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Le Havre Cruise Port Decoded

Updated: Feb 23

Quite possibly one of the busiest harbors in France, Le Havre is home to the embarking and disembarking Brittany Ferry fleet coming in and out of England regularly, as well as many cruise ships like the MSC Euribia, which I set sail with in December 2023.


In port, a long port day awaits, with many options for shore excursions. You can visit Normandy, artsy, cliffside Etretat, take the train into Joan of Arc's Rouen, or of course, slog down to Paris for a heavy day of touring. There is always the choice of staying put in Le Havre, as well, although less exciting.


Below, with great brevity, I've showcased just snippets of what to expect in Le Havre port and beyond, to help researchers in this cruise port steer which way they may wish to spend their busy port day. Here we go!


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Understanding Le Havre (Paris Cruise Port)


With multiple options for where to go and what to do, this port will take some careful advanced planning (i.e. don't try to wing it, or just take a ship's tour). You'll be interested in seeing and doing it all from taking in the top sites in Normandy to gallavanting (quickly) through the Parisian neighborhoods like Montemarte. It will be a whirlwind day, so I suggest you do your research.


Paris sacre cour

Where You'll Dock


To learn more about where you'll dock, check out the information page here.


The dock is spitting distance if you're a bird, but as a taxi or a bi-ped, unfortunately there's quite a meandering walk to get into town (more on that below).


Walking route directional sign


What To Do In Le Havre


You basically have to pick what means most to you. Have you seen Paris before? Skip it and see Normandy.


Have you seen Normandy? Skip that and visit Rouen, or perhaps artsy Etretat.






Not feeling super motivated? Stay close to port and explore quiet and modern Le Havre town itself.



Regardless of your options, you can't really just step off the ship without a plan. Below I illustrate in a chart format the best general ideas to get you going on your adventures. Feel free to print it out as a reference!



What To Do, Where To Eat, and Where to Shop Near Le Havre Cruise Port (At a Glance)


Port Destination

What To Do

Where To Eat

Where To Shop

Paris

Take a ship tour or arrange one in advance through Viator for potential cost savings.



Rouen

Shop and wander, start at Place du Vieux Marche

Consider La Régalière for crepes and quaint timbered style surrounds, or perhaps La Petite Auberge for their escargot and cheese options, or lastly Le P'Tit Bec for traditional cuisine in a cozy timbered bistro.


Etretat

Visit the Jardin d'Etretat inspired by Claude Monet with views of the iconic cliffs, then head down to the old village

Eat at Hoa Binh for asian food and cute decor or La Flotille for open flame grill and big pots of mussels. Feeling like a crepe? Try Lann-bihoue for crepes.

Visit the small but very old Vieux Marche market stalls and cute streets. Pop into La Rose de Vents regional products store where you can stock up on supplies to bring snacks to the beach.

Honfleur

Visit the old church and stroll the streets

Eat at Brasserie de L'église by the old church or along the waterfront from mussels and drinks


Le Havre

Docks Vauban modern mall (35 minutes walking)


How To Get Around


Depending on your chosen activity for the day, you'll want to consider that getting around requires more than just stepping off the ship.



For Paris

Take the organized ship tour. This will guarantee you will arrive back in time for the ship's departure that evening. It's a long day, and too much could go wrong trying to get back to the ship in time.



For Rouen

Take the regional/local SNCF train. Tickets can be purchased online in advance here. Expect to spend about $10 each way, or $20 RT. The ship will offer an excursion for Rouen (simple bus transfer), but it will be upwards of $70 round trip. You choose what is easiest for you!


For Etretat

Consider a taxi or pre-arranged Viator tour.


For Honfleur


Waterfront view of boats and buildings in Honfleur

Consider a shuttle or taxi from the port. Read up a little bit on Honfleur and neighboring communities here.



For Le Havre

On foot is doable, but local taxis will be easiest. We found that the taxi line was very long with people disembarking and chose to go on foot into town.


The train station was about a 35 minute walk, and the local mall with a Primark and Lidl was also 35 minutes. There were many options for dining in town, mostly Asian cuisine.



Last Thoughts


My best advice to any cruise ship passenger traveling through Le Havre is to keep in mind that travel time will easily eat through the majority of your day if you aren't careful. Be prepared with tours in advance, and ready for a full day.

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