Taking the train to Le Havre is a great way to travel to this major port city on the English Channel in northern France. A UNESCO Heritage Site since 2005 and famous for its modern architecture, the ‘Ocean’s Gate’ also has beaches, museums and, of course, fabulous Normandy cuisine to offer. The train to Le Harve from Paris takes 2h15mins, leaving from Paris-Gare-St-Lazare, via the high-speed TGV service. The journey time from Rouen to Le Havre is only 47 minutes, while Lyon is 4h33mins away. Église Saint-Joseph, by the renowned architect behind the city’s redevelopment after WWII, is a must-see.
The city’s main attractions are all easily accessible by foot from the main station, making catching the train to Le Harve a convenient way to get to this coastal city. Within 10-15 minutes, visitors can be strolling along the waterfront, choosing from museums and galleries, or gazing out across the ocean from a quayside restaurant. Heading from the station, the Musée Maison de l'Armateur is a 6-minute walk away and provides a rare example of what the city looked like prior to WWII bombing. A little further towards the harbour and inland is Cathédrale Notre-Dame, a striking example of contrasting 15th-century architecture and contemporary repair. From here, in under a 10-minute walk, the Musée Malraux, a bright and breezy modern art gallery, boasts a collection of Impressionist work that’s considered the best outside of Paris, perhaps because Monet himself grew up in Le Havre!
Continuing north on foot, tourists come to the Église Saint-Joseph — a reinforced-concrete space rocket from the outside but uniquely beautiful from within. Nearby, another modern architectural adventure, Le Volcan cultural centre, is a gleaming white edifice and a hub of the city’s burgeoning arts scene. A 5-minute walk to the north, one of France’s largest squares frames the town hall with a collection of fountains, trees and pretty green spaces. When the weather is fine, Le Havre beach becomes a much-loved playground for water sports enthusiasts, as well as those who prefer to remain ensconced on the sand. From here, the Alabaster coast stretches to the north, classed as an area of national importance and an inspiration to the Impressionists — Boudin, Manet and, of course, Monet.