Le Havre [Loo Ah-v-ruh] is a French seaport in Normandy. The town was almost completely destroyed in World War I, so architect Auguste Perret undertook the job of redesigning the city so that it would still feel French, but with modern considerations in mind. Thus, Le Havre has remarkably wide streets and building facades that look older than they actually are.
The upside of our trip to Le Havre is that we got to do everything we wanted to do. The downside was that there weren’t too many things to do. But we made our own fun and had a blast anyway. Take away: Le Havre is good for a short, fun trip.
There was a really fun seaside fair and some cool street art. The beach was advertised as a “pebble beach” but turned out to be a stone beach. Still, we had fun in the water (it’s salty in France too!) and enjoyed the sun. There are cute beach storage huts with colorful doors where the locals keep their beach supplies. We really liked those too.
We went to two museums: the Museum of Modern Art (MuMa) and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MuMa was great, with a floor of works with an ocean theme. I especially liked the paintings of what people imagined the bottom of the ocean looked like before it had been explored. I also enjoyed the early underwater photographs. Upstairs, there were a lot of smaller impressionist paintings, including a few lesser-known works by famous artists like Claude Monet.
Monet liked to paint Le Havre and his painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), which gave the Impressionist movement its name, is a painting of the harbor in Le Havre.
The Museum of Contemporary Art was an adventure. We walked across town to get there, only to discover the museum only contained eight pieces of art:
- A crunched car that revved loudly—we thought someone was vacuuming upstairs when we walked in
- A row of mirrors progressively getting more bent
- A pile of car parts and debris from the crushed car left on the upstairs landing
- A plate of twisted, rusty metal hanging from the ceiling on a chain
- Another plate of twisted, rusty metal hanging from the ceiling on a chain
- A final plate of twisted metal, this one mirrored, also hanging from the ceiling
- Three wooden planks painted black and leaned against a wall and
- A short film called “Dark Energy” that showed the car that we mistook for a vacuum cleaner, getting progressively destroyed as it was driven off cliffs, through forests, and along roads with the pieces of metal along the roadside.
I’m still not sure what to make of it. But I suppose it’s art.
On another art note, I’m pretty sure we finally found the sphinx’ nose.
We went to the movies in Le Havre and watched The Incredibles 2 in English with French subtitles. No one else came, so we had the entire 336-seat theatre to ourselves to ten euros. Plus, there was a love-seat fold-down velvet seat right in the middle of the theatre, so you know where we sat.
We ended our trip to Le Havre with a visit to the suspended gardens. The gardens are not suspended in the sense that they hang like the ancient hanging gardens of Babylon. Instead, they are suspended in time and place. I went through a whole cluster of greenhouses exhibiting flora from jungles, deserts, mountains, and coastal environments.
And then we boarded this spaceship with the other humans.
Just kidding. But the view from the to of the hill behind by the spaceship was—wait for it—out of this world.