A couple of weekends ago my significant other and I hopped on a ferry and headed over to Normandy. I haven’t been on an England-France ferry since I was a whipper snapper and it’s safe to say that I was super excited.
I was writing a piece for a travel mag (more on that later) and here is a snapshot of what we found in the town that people normally dismiss as somewhere only worthy of a drive-through.
Sorry brick fans, Le Havre is all about concrete, after being almost entirely flattened by bombs during World War II starchitect Aguste Perret rebuilt the town to his own design and there is now a lot of the poured stuff in various shades, textures and shapes.
Very French cuisine
It might only be 3 hours by boat from Portsmouth but Le Havre is going its own French way with food. We ate plenty of fresh fish and steak, moules mariniere, crépes, smoked herring, paté and even snails at the Michelin-starred Pierre Caillet restaurant where we were invited to sit at the chef’s table, inside the kitchen (words cannot describe the flavours that man delivered to my plate)
Claude Monet decamped from fun-time Paris after being rejected by the conservative Académie des Beaux-Arts to the sleepy-town Le Havre during his teenage years, and in an act of rebellion against THE MAN started up the controversial impressionist art movement with his mates Renoir, Manet and Boudin (what a badass). We spotted one from his famous Waterlilies series as well as an extensive collection on the subject of cows by Boudin.
We drove 45 minutes to Fécamp (such a French word) to visit the Bénédictiné Palace where first monks then later an advertising-savvy boozer named Alexander have been producing this sweet spiced spirit since the 12th century. We admire some tiny 12th century bibles and tasted some concoctions (try it with grapefruit juice) in the beautiful botanical greenhouse bar.