Normandy: Places to Explore

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Le Havre

You might think there is little left to see in Le Havre, France's second-largest port (after Marseille), as it was bombarded 146 times during World War II. Think again. You may find the rebuilt city, with its uncompromising recourse to reinforced concrete and open spaces, bleak and uninviting; on the other hand, it is home to some of France's most spectacular modern architecture: Auguste Perret's rational planning and audacious modern structures, which have now earned the city UNESCO World Heritage status. Above all, the unforgettable Église St-Joseph —half rocket ship, half church—is alone worth the trip, along with such other modernist landmarks as the center-of-town "Volcanoes." Perret (d. 1954) developed a mastery of the art of reinforced concrete and this wound up lending so much élan to the rebuilding of war-devastated Le Havre.

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