The largest city in Normandy, Le Havre or “LH”, is 2 hours from Paris. It is a city of radical modernity. In 2005, a dramatic intervention changed its fate: the town centre, rebuilt by Auguste PERRET after the Second World War was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That revealed Le Havre to the eyes of the world in a new light - the honour also enabled the city to show everyone its ability to reinvent itself. Le Havre, the Phoenix city, still bears the motto given to it by its creator, Francis “nutrisco et extinguo” (I nourish and I extinguish).
A kingdom for pleasure
Bright, airy, dynamic, Le Havre is a true kingdom of pleasure. The No.1 port for cruising on the Atlantic seaboard, the No.1 French port for container traffic, Le Havre is also a seaside resort. There are few cities that have more than 180,000 inhabitants, where you only have to cross a boulevard to enjoy a beach. Facing south-west, along more than two kilometres of the city centre,and served by the tramway, Le Havre beach offers a multitude of opportunities for leisure and entertainment.
A seaside town
A real institution are the 700 beach huts which appear on the pebbles of the beach from April. Designed during the emergence of sea baths in order to preserve “good public morals” as much as to protect bathers from the cold, they are now part of the cultural heritage of Le Havre, and are, for their owners, the place for summer, a real second home with their feet in the water!
After a stroll along the promenade and gardens created by the landscape architect, Alexandre Chemetof, walkers can enjoy the 20 restaurants on the waterfront from mid-March to mid-September, with a breath-taking view of the horizon.
Natural splendour carved in Alabaster
The bay of Le Havre is an unusual setting for sailing, between the container ships, ferries and cruise ships lining the harbour and the majestic cliffs of the Côte d’Albâtre (Alabaster Coast) that lead you further on to the reliefs of the famous arch of Etretat (renamed “Aiguille creuse” by the novelist Maurice Leblanc). Thanks to the development of its infrastructure, Le Havre offers pleasure boaters thirsty for sea and culture a surprising and unexpected body of water. For Le Havre is also a “spot” which is particularly suitable for windsurfing, kitesurfing, speed-sailing, body-boarding, stand-up paddle, skimboarding, surfing, wakeboarding and rowing.
The city of Le Havre is equally proud of its sailing club,Société des Régates, the first created on the European continent, and its football club, Le Havre Athlétic Club, founded in 1872. It was in Le Havre that the first French rowing, rugby and field hockeyclubs were created.
Le Havre has a long tradition of sports. More than 80 different disciplines are practiced. All levels are catered for and easily accessible in Le Havre, from beginners to recreation to high-level competition.
The city now has 350 sports associations and four semi-professional clubs (ALA Basket - HAC Handball) andtwo professional ones (HAC Football and St Thomas Basket). The 36,000 practitioners have about a hundred sports facilities spread over the whole territory (60 sites - 100 halls or grounds), not to mention the natural spaces that form the beach and Montgeon forest, or the Parc de Rouelles, idealfor free training.
Founded in 1872, Le Havre Athlétic Club (HAC) was the first French sports club. It was on its turf that the first matches of "”combination”, a mixture of football and rugby, took place.
It was also here that Pierre de Coubertin decided to organise the second Olympic congress in 1897. And these qualities that allowed him to host the sailing events of the Olympic Games of 1900 and 1924 (the last organised in France).
Since 2003, the City of Le Havre has been supporting its high-level athletes with financial assistance. This initiativeis helping 39 athletes in 2017.
A paradise for water sports
Le Havre is also a water sport hotspotfamous for offering exceptional technical and sporting conditions for the practice of all activities on the water, and regularly hosts national and international level marine events,such as the Transat Jacques Vabre. It also has more licensed sailors than any other French city! The doyen of sailing clubs in Europe, the Société des Régates du Havre (SRH), was founded in 1838, the same year as the Havreise de l'Aviron. The SRH is still a key player in the development of sailing and water sports in the Bay of Seine.
In 2006, Le Havre created what was then the largest free outdoor skate park in France. The park is located on the esplanade of the beach and now hosts a stage of the FISE Experienceevery summer. It has helped develop skating and the talent of the users, to the point that Team Skateboard which will represent France to the 2020 Olympic Games includes two natives of Le Havre.
Equipment for all pursuits
In order to support the development of sports activities, the City is redeveloping the Auguste Delaune stadium, the skate park, and building a multifunctional centre with a sporting and socio-cultural emphasis in the heart of the old city centre. This facility will notably have a 12-metre high climbing wall,over a 45-metre development.
To the north-west of the city, the Yuri Gagarine sports complex, inaugurated in the ‘70s, will benefit from a large redevelopment project from 2019. The 13-hectare site (12 sports fields, a playground and a multipurpose hall), which hosts 12 clubs (football, rugby and US sports), and many schools, with 200,000 users a year will be completely regenerated. With the aim of making it the new showcase for regional sport, the City of Le Havre wants tocreate a football field good enough for CFA-level football, to encourage American sport activities (American football, baseball and softball) and field hockey, improve the environment for sportsmen and women, partners and the public, encourage interaction between clubs around a common living space, and create open areas accessible to all.
Since 2012, Le Havre has been home to the Stade Océane, an ultra-modern stadium recognised throughout the world for its architectural and environmental qualities. This multifunctional facilityis equipped with 25,000 seats and can accommodate up to 33,000 spectators when the playing field is open (performance configuration). This capacity makes it the largest stadium in Normandy. It has 3,053 VIP seats and 340 seats across 16 private boxes that can accommodate 13 people each. There is also a lounge with a capacity of 146 people. This is the leading stadium in France for“positive energy” (producing more than it consumes). It was designed by Luc Delamain and Maxime Barbier of the SCAU agency.
In June 2019, the StadeOcéane will host matches of the FIFA Women's World Cup, which will take place in France. This World Cup will bring together 24 nations for a total of 52 matches.
A public policy to get moving everyday
In 2016, the City of Le Havre launched “LH enForme”. Through this new public policy, it wishes to reintegrate physical activity into the daily life of the people of Le Havre by implementing various initiatives (awareness, introductions, urban improvements) based around three ideas: to move, to share, to discover. The goal is to encourage everyone to practice 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week. The City is creating conditions favourable for sport, through the available facilities, urban exercise equipment installed in public spaces and the integration of tracks in its green areas. Zumba, yoga, tai chi, and other classes to wake up the body will be offered free to all in public parks. Specific urban circuits for walking and running, with different levels of difficulty, are currently being developed. In this spirit, Le Havre is one of the host cities of the Vélotour, a convivial and cultural cycle event dedicated to visiting places usually closed to this practice or inaccessible to the public.
In July 2015, the City applied to join the Basse et Haute-Normandie regions, the Seine-Maritime Department and the CROSF in order to host sailing events as part of Paris's bid for the Olympic Games in 2024. The quality of the Normandybid has made it possible to identify Le Havre as one of the five main sailingareas in France.
To mark the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Le Havre by King Francis I, the city welcomed the Tall Ships Regatta. This popular event brought together over 400,000 people over four days. There were 31 boats in the Vatine and Eure basins, including 13 very large sailing vessels from 12 countries, 15 of which could be visited free of charge by the public, and 1,200 crew members from all over the world, including 60 young sailors from all municipalities of Le Havre
Le Havre is now preparing to receive the skippers of the next Transat Jacques Vabre. It is the 13th edition of an event which represents a great pride for the people of Le Havre. Two beautiful events to celebrate the link between city, sea and sport!