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General view in 1970 before the intervention: the beach space invaded by two thousand changing rooms, huge presence of vehicles and poor access


images  (7)



previous state

An urban beach isolated from the town centre which is so close by. This was the definition of the seafront at Le Havre prior to its redevelopment. Heavy traffic flows between the downtown and residential uptown districts had turned the seafront esplanade into a fast-moving, congested thoroughfare, creating a clear barrier between the town and its seafront. The beach still attracted large numbers of people during the good weather, from April to October, and its many beach huts and small seasonal restaurants ensured it remained a hub of activity. Nevertheless, Le Havre had lost its reputation as a seaside resort and was no longer known for its beach and seafront esplanade.

aim of the intervention

The 1987 General Coastline Development Plan included the project for refurbishing the beach. It had a clear purpose: to renew the seafront landscape, to develop exisiting activities and to reestablish the links between the city and its seafront which had been lost.

The first interventions in 1990 which were designed to contain the traffic flow and develop pedestrianised areas, affected traffic and the roads in the area. The project for the beach began a few years later. It was a highly symbolic part of the renovation of the city's seafront, as the zone was often frequented by the people of Le Havre.

The intervention strategy involved limiting the number of beach huts, building new recreational spaces, and introducing plant life into the mineral universe of the beach.


The gardens occupy a large expanse of beach and a new esplanade runs alongside them next to the Boulevard Albert I. An intermediate space runs between the green "strip" of the garden and the new esplanade, comprising a stream with aquatic plants, gently sloping dunes planted with reeds, and a boardwalk located below the esplanade. A series of wooden walkways cross the entire space as far as the beach. People can thus enjoy a relaxing landscape on their way to the busiest area by the sea. The green space is closed off and protected by a dike-walkway raised slightly above the level of the garden. The seasonal restaurants are set out along it. The beach huts have been set out in front of the esplanade and perpendicular to the sea, preserving the tradition of the family seaside outing.


After the redevelopment, the beach was still extremely busy in both summer and winter. The success and the quality of the landscape intervention have led to the extension of the gardens to the south of the city, towards the marina. Also, in the north, the designer of the beach gardens, A.Chemetoff, has undertaken the project for the "promenades des régates" which will link up with the neighbouring town of Saint-Adresse, with the aim of incorporating the varied landscape characteristic of the Le Havre coastline.

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  • Marco Massa
    Sent on Saturday, July 16th, 2011
    I am a professor of the Architectural Faculty of Florence (I). I did a research on the seafront promenades in the world (published in "Passeggiate lungo molti mari"Firenze 2005) and I consider La Havre one of the best contemporary projects.
Winter view with the promenade, the garden strip and stream in the foreground and, beyond them, the deserted beach

technical sheet

CITY: Le Havre (188,605 inhabitants)





AREA: 26,000 m2

COST: 47,411,600 €



Alexandre Chemetoff, Bureau des Paysages


Marc Mimram, André Jugy, Stéphane Hirschberger