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Le Havre, translated to English as 'the harbour', was established in 1517 by King Francis I. It has long been the port of choice for mariners and international traders thanks to its prime location. Situated on the banks of the River Seine estuary, it offers accessible docking, as well as onward passage to Normandy's inland cities.
The majority of the city was devastated in 1944, though it rose from the ashes after World War II with the help of Belgian architect Auguste Perret. A pioneer in utilising reinforced concrete as a cheap and versatile material, he reconstructed Le Havre with such bold grandeur that it has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. View his striking work throughout the urban centre and at the sky-scraping octagonal tower of St Joseph's Church.
Other notable architectural feats include Le Volcan cultural centre and the light-filled André Malraux Museum of Modern Art (MuMa), where Monet's 'Waterlilies' is on display. Away from the industrial hustle and bustle you'll find a large yachting marina, a hut-lined pebble beach and the wonderfully contemporary Les Bains des Docks aquatic centre and swimming pools.
A couple of hours from Le Havre is magnificent Paris, where history and culture can be found at every turn. First time visitors will undoubtedly want to visit the iconic Eiffel Tower - a wrought iron marvel that's become the symbol of France's capital city. Three observation levels, including two restaurants, offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and are a common place for smitten lovers to get engaged. The Arc de Triomphe monument on the Champs-Elysée is a must-see, as are the Louvre museum and the Gothic gargoyles of the 12th century Notre Dame Cathedral.
Aside from the many major attractions, Paris offers a wealth of memorable experiences. Parisians are famed for passion for food, fashion and style so a stroll through the streets gives a true flavour of this decadent lifestyle. Browse haute couture clothing through boutique windows, succumb to delicious temptation in a vibrant patisserie, follow your nose to a local market or walk arm-in-arm over the cobblestone bridges of the Seine.