Tiny town ‘completely walkable’ and named hidden gem due to lack of tourists

A “completely walkable” city named a hidden gem due its lack of tourists could be the perfect destination for travellers looking for a charming European getaway.

Le Havre in France’s Normandy region has been tipped as the perfect weekend trip with its impressive architecture, modern works of art and stunning seaside views.

The city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features the impressive la Catene sculpture made up of 21 brightly coloured shipping containers and the Church of Saint Joseph with its immense concrete tower and unique arrangements of stained glass windows on each of its sides.

Travel blog Grumpy Camel, lists the city as Europe’s number one “crowd-free” location saying it “surprises visitors with impressive architecture and modern works of art that blend into the landscape”.

Art lovers are able to marvel at the work of Claude Monet, who was raised in the area, along with paintings by Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse at the city’s MuMa gallery.

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Le Havre is also home to the volcano shaped Le Volcan arts centre which was designed by leading Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and houses a multimedia library, concert hall and cafe bar.

Situated at the mouth of the River Seine, Le Havre’s port has been trading for more than 500 years and is the second largest in France after Marseilles.

The city boasts some of France’s oldest sports clubs with yachting and rowing clubs dating back more than 150 years, while also hosting top flight football and basketball teams in Le Havre AC and Saint Thomas Basketball.

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In the first weekend of September, Le Havre hosts the Festival of the Sea which features a sailing race from the French city to Bahia in Brazil, while a flower parade passes through the city durng mid-August.

The city is also known for its literature with Le Havre being the setting for an array of 19th century French novels and a children’s book festival taking place every spring.

Its promenades are lined with colourful beach huts, bars and restaurants stretching all the way to neighbouring Sainte-Adresse, making it perfect for an evening stroll.

Known as Le Havre’s “elegant next-door neighbour” by the Normandy tourism board, Sainte Adresse is home to the Dufayel building, which housed the exiled Belgian government in World War I, and a 19th-century fort turned public gardens boasting magnificent views of Le Havre and its port.

A trip to Le Havre can even be extended beyond the weekend with Paris just two hours away by train and the impressive cliffs of Etretat or the old charm of the city of Honfleur just a 30-minute bus trip away.

Those wishing to explore the city can book a return flight to Paris for about £120, with trains from the French capital to Le Havre costing about £30.

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