Paris Skyline, Eiffel Tower
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Photo Credit: iStock / neirfy | Paris Skyline
Le Havre, France, Musée d'art moderne André Malraux
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Photo Credit: OTAH | Musée d'art moderne André Malraux
Le Havre, France, Place Hôtel de Ville
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Photo Credit: OTAH | Place Hôtel de Ville
Normandy, France, Camembert
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / Gilles_Paire | Camembert from Normandy
Le Havre, France, houses
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / stefanphoto | Le Havre Houses
Étretat, France, cliffs
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / Lukasz Janyst | Cliffs of Étretat
Le Havre, France, Bains des Docks
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Photo Credit: OTAH | Les Bains des Docks
Honfleur, France, cider
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / Delpixart | French Cider
Normandy, France, Cows in Normandy
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / destillat | Cows in Normandy
Le Havre, France, city view
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Photo Credit: Franck Godard | Le Havre

Le Havre (Paris), France

Le Havre, France, St. Joseph's Church Photo credit: OTAH / Fabrice Moley | Saint Joseph's Church

The port at Le Havre in northern France is the closest large cruise ships can get to Paris. It's takes about 2.5 hours to travel to the City of Light from the coast — and it's worth it for a sightseeing day if you've never been or won't be back anytime soon. If you're a repeat visitor, or not up for cramming the city's highlights into one shortened day, Le Havre is a cultural hub in its own right. Bombed to bits during World War II and rebuilt in modernist concrete, the town has swank bars, a futuristic spa complex, and unrivaled impressionist galleries.

What We Love

The Lower City: The area around Hotel de Ville is considered the European epitome of smart urban planning. Judge for yourself if Auguste Perret’s reinforced concrete rebuild is the architectural wonder of the postwar world. 

The Upper City: For a taste of the Old World, head to the effortlessly appealing (and strategically unimportant) suburbs along the coast, which were spared from Allied bombing. The opulent villas and twisting alleys beguile in all the ways you imagine France would.

Best Known For

Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux: Le Havre doesn’t call itself "the birthplace of impressionism" for nothing. This museum rivals Parisian institutions, with exquisite works by masters like Renoir, Monet, Degas, and Manet.

Bains des Docks: Take the waters at this magisterial spa and water park that rifts on ancient Roman baths and was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Architect Jean Nouvel.

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Who It's Best For

Urban Explorers: Formerly seedy docks are an urban design enthusiast’s playground, where once grubby warehouses and factories now host slick bars and gastropubs.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

It’s Still an Active Port: This is also France’s major container shipping terminal and has all the attendant headaches of any port city, with a little more grit and crime. Embrace the authenticity.

Sarah Rose

Sarah Rose is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for The Wall Street Journal.

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Itineraries Including Le Havre (Paris), France
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