Today we’re in Le Havre, what appears to be a relatively industrial enclave on the Normandy coast. The ship docks within seeing distance of the city centre – but it’s at least a mile to walk into the town.
The city is overwhelmingly grey, undoubtedly a result of post-war reconstruction that heavily favoured concrete. This is not a pretty town – if you want something more visibly attractive, Honfleur is supposed to be nicer and it’s not too far away by bus.
Top tip: The Normandy coast saw some of the most vicious fighting towards the end of WW2. Dark tourists may want to check out the D Day landing beaches which are located to the south of the city.
On the way into town we grab a few geocaches, including a fun one in a puzzle box under a bridge. Sadly there’s not much by way of sights in the town – and we have arrived near lunchtime as all the stores shut for an hour or two. The place feels deserted.
Top tip: Most cruise lines advertise this port as Le Havre – Paris. Don’t be fooled – it’s almost two hours drive to the French capital. Even the cruise ship excursion staff have a hard time selling their trips because you have almost no time to see anything in Paris. Our advice? Don’t bother.
We make our way to the faithfully restored Cathédrale Notre-Dame which still bears some scars of bombing and fighting in 1944-45. However, inside we discover something quite incredible:
In one of the side chapels is a fairly standard crucifix. However, the photograph besides reveals something quite astonishing – Jesus was the only thing to have survived the heavy bombardment of the Cathedral in September 1944. The only damage he sustained? A gash on his side, just as described in the New Testament book of John.
It has to be said, Le Havre does have a more famous church to visit, but we found this undocumented piece of history particularly fascinating.
Afterwards we retire to L’Havrais Bière, a local brewpub serving its own beers. With six to eight ales to choose from, there’s something for everyone – and my cloudy IPA is pretty decent. Then it’s the long walk back to the ship…