On 15 July 2005, the ultimate accolade: Le Havre entered the pantheon of Unesco for the modernity of its architecture.

There is often a gap between a creation and its appropriation by the general public. Le Havre, long misunderstood for its architecture, has become a World Heritage Site.

Le Volcan la colombe Niemeyer

Le Havre, one city, two renowned architects

The bush-hammered, washed concrete, the claustras, the colonnades, the famous 6.24m grid that made up Perret’s architectural vocabulary, came out from the shadows into the light and proudly revealed themselves to the curiosity of an incredulous public and mesmerised press. Le Havre joined Brasilia, until now the only representative of modernity in the Unesco classification. These two cities, the fruit of the genius of two exceptional architects, Perret and Niemeyer, are symbols of 20th-century urban planning…

Bassin du commerce au Havre

Le Havre, considered by historians and town planners as one of the most significant achievements of the 20th century, is one of the most remarkable applications of town planning knowledge accumulated in Europe at that time.

Zoom sur détails architeturaux béton Le Havre
Panoramique vers Porte Océane
Détails architecturaux béton Perret

Auguste Perret, concrete and Le Havre

Perret’s concrete is not a classic, banal concrete. Described as “20th-century stone”, it is decorated, stained and treated using various technical processes such as bush hammering, chiselling, polishing and washing. Its composition differs, giving the facades a variety of colours. Because its concrete catches the light and, depending on its evolution, goes from pinkish beige to golden brown.

Organised from this 6.24m grid allowing standardisation of all building elements, the architectural quality of this reconstruction is coupled with an undeniable quality of life: double and sometimes triple orientation, numerous openings, long balconies, high ceilings, oak floors…

Intérieur immeubles Perret
Célébrations pour le classement au Patrimoine mondial de l'Humanité
Le boulevard François 1er vu du ciel

The urban plan is organised around three iconic venues: the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, the Porte Océane and the southern waterfront, linked by three major arteries remarkable for their width and layout: Avenue Foch, Rue de Paris and Boulevard François 1er, known to the people of Le Havre as the “Golden Triangle”. 

The Perret show apartment

To see and understand this architecture and not just look at it, first go to the Maison du Patrimoine and visit the show apartment. The explanations available will help you understand all the details and subtleties of the buildings on Avenue Foch, the Champs Elysées of Le Havre with its bas-reliefs evoking the “glories of Le Havre”: painters, musicians, builders, industrialists …

La salle à manger de l'appartement témoin E>N
Le béton Perret

As well as Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, the Town Hall, its tower building rising to over 70 metres high, the Church of St Joseph, Perret’s masterpiece and his collaboration with Marguerite Huré, Master Glassmaker, plus the Porte Océane, Rue de Paris, the Halles Centrales, the Casino (former Chamber of Commerce) and the St François district.

About a hundred architects who made up the Perret workshop helped rebuild Le Havre, including: Raymond Audigier, Georges Brochard, Charles Fabre, André Hermant, Guy Lagneau, Pierre-Edouard Lambert, Jacques Lamy, André le Donne, Jean le Soudier, Jacques Tournant, Otello Zavaroni…

Maison du Patrimoine181 rue de ParisLE HAVRETel. 02 35 22 31 22E-mailWebsiteLearn more

©Philippe Bréard

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