Picking up on my recent two-week break in France, I am taking you to some of the smaller towns located near and around the city of Le Havre. Considering that I only spent merely afternoons in these places, I’ll be recapping all three of them within this post.
Without further ado, let’s get started! 🙂
Located about two miles from Le Havre, the town of Sainte-Adresse is situated on a hill, overlooking the beautiful, vast Atlantic Ocean. Considering the views, you can bet that the town is a rich one…and it is! My colleague with whom I was staying during my time in Le Havre had told me that many of the houses cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to purchase. From the sleek, modern flats to the traditional, half-timbered Normand houses alongside each other, all of them had amazing views of the ocean.
As soon as I arrived in Le Havre, my colleague picked me up from the train station and proceeded to drive us straight to Sainte-Adresse, where we spent the afternoon hiking along the cliffs. We saw the de la Hève Lighthouse, as well as came across several bunkers left over from WWII, now all covered with colorful street art. My colleague is a huge fan of street art, so of course she snapped tons of photo of each one we stumbled upon; I also captured a couple as well.
After the hike, we headed over to la chapelle Notre-Dame des Flots, which is a small chapel perched at the very top of the hill that is dedicated to the sailors who have been lost at sea, as well as is a place where the sailor’s wives come to pay their respects to their husbands. There’s also a lovely, small garden right outside of the chapel and especially with the sun that day, it was looking good!
We also made a brief visit to the Pain de sucre, which literally translates to “sugarloaf.” The monument itself is mausoleum dedicated to a French army general back in the 19th and 20th centuries. I’d expected for the monument to be taller than it actually was, since I’d seen it from the bottom of the hill. Alas, looks can be deceiving!
We left Sainte-Adresse afterwards, heading back to Le Havre for the rest of the day. Along the way, my colleague stopped along the roadside as we were descending the hill to let me snap a photo of one of the viewpoint spots of Le Havre. Not too shabby!
While a tiny town, Sainte-Adresse nevertheless remains a beautiful spot for an afternoon trip. If you love beach views, then this place is definitely for you! 🙂
The following day after my visit to the “MuMa” in Le Havre, my colleague took me over to Harfleur, located the next town over. Situated along the Lézarde river, this small town is famous for its quaint, colorful houses along the river bank, as well as its towering church overlooking all of the area. During my time as a teaching assistant last year in the area, I would pass by Harfleur’s church on the bus on the way to Le Havre and be amazed by its height, considering that it really stood out from other small-town churches out there.
Any case, my colleague and I did a brief visit along the river bank (in which we saw tons of ducks, a few gorgeous swans, even a beaver!) before heading into the city center to check out the Harfleur Church. Before we left, we took a stroll around the city hall, as well as the musée du Prieuré (Prioryship museum). Didn’t go inside, but regardless I got photos of their quite colorful, charming architecture.
Although a very brief visit, Harfleur had its cute, charming quality to it. I was also glad to have discovered the gorgeous houses along the river, as it turned out to be more picturesque than I had thought! The church didn’t disappoint, either, although I wish I could’ve went inside (there was a funeral going on that day, so I wasn’t allowed to visit. Another time, perhaps!). Any case, I’m glad to have discovered what Harfleur had to offer!
“Monti” for short, this small town is situated not too far from Le Havre and definitely not too far from Harfleur. My colleague and I made our way over there right after Harfleur, spending a short while at the Montivilliers Abbey, which back in the day had housed almost all nuns (female power, yeah!). Although I had to pay an admission fee to enter the abbey, the fee was small but it was quite rich in architecture and history dating back all the way to the 11th century. The cloister was a lovely sight as well.
After the visit of the abbey, that was pretty much it. There wasn’t a whole lot more to see in Montivilliers, so we headed back to Le Havre for the afternoon.
Overall, these three, small towns near Le Havre are good for an afternoon trip over. Visiting those places over vacation made me realize that traveling doesn’t necessarily mean going big in cities like Rome or London, but also exploring the small, otherwise overlooked towns and villages that have something new and local to offer. I really got a taste of the Normand atmosphere in these small, sparse towns, even more so than Le Havre itself (although I still really love it!).
Stay tuned for the next adventure over this past vacation. Coming up: Honfleur, Deauville, and Trouville, France!
— The Finicky Cynic
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