HAVRE, LE, a seaport of north-western France, in the department of Seine-Inferieure, on the north bank of the estuary of the Seine, 143 m. W.N.W. of Paris and 55 m. W. of Rouen by the Western railway. Pop. (1906), 129,403. The greater part of the town stands on the level strip of ground bordering the esluary, but on the N. rises an eminence, la Cote, covered by the gardens and villas of the richer quarter. The central point of the town is the Place de 1'hotel de ville in which are the public gardens. It is crossed by the Boulevard de Strasbourg, running from the sea on the west to the railway station and the barracks on the east. The rue de Paris, the busiest street, starts at the Grand Quai, overlooking the outer harbour, and, intersecting the Place Gambetta, runs north and enters the Place de 1'hotel de ville on its southern side. The docks start immediately to the east of this street and extend over a large area to the south and south-east of the town. Apart from the church of Notre-Dame, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, the chief buildings of Havre, including the h6tel de ville, the law courts, and the exchange, are of modern erection. The museum contains a collection of antiquities and paintings. Havre is the seat of a sub-prefect, and forms part of the maritime arrondissement of Cherbourg. Among the public institutions are a tribunal of first instance, a 1 ribunal of commerce, a board of trade arbitrators, a tribunal of maritime commerce, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France. There are lycees for boys and girls, schools of commerce and other educational establishments. Havre, which is a fortified place of the second class, ranks second to Marseilles among French seaports. There are nine basins (the oldest of which dates back to i66g) with an area of about 200 acres and more than 8 m. of quays. They extend to the east of the outer harbour which on the west opens into the new outer harbour, formed by two breakwaters converging from the land and leaving an entrance facing west. The chief docks (see DOCK for plan) are the Bassin Bellot and the Bassin de 1'Eure. In the latter the mail-steamers of the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique are berthed; and the Tancarville canal, by which river-boats unable to attempt the estuary of the Seine can make the port direct, enters the harbour by this basin. There are, besides, several repairing docks and a petroleum dock for the use of vessels carrying that dangerous commodity. The port, which is an important point of emigration, has regular steam-communication with New York (by the vessels of the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique) and with many of the other chief ports of Europe, North, South and Central America, the West Indies and Africa. Imports in 1907 reached a value of 57,686,000. The chief were cotton, for which Havre is the great French market, coffee, copper and other metals, cacao, cotton goods, rubber, skins and hides, silk goods, dye-woods, tobacco, oil-seeds, coal, cereals and wool. In the same year exports were valued at 47,130,000, the most important being cotton, silk and woollen goods, coffee, hides, leather, wine and spirits, rubber, tools and metal ware, earthenware and glass, clothes and millinery, cacao and fancy goods. In 1907 the total tonnage of shipping (with cargoes) reached its highest point, viz. 5,671,975 tons (4018 vessels) compared with 3,816,340 tons (3832 vessels) in 1898. Forty-two per cent of this shipping sailed under the British flag. France and Germany were Great Britain's most serious rivals. Havre possesses oil works, soap works, saw mills, flour mills, works for extracting dyes and tannin from dye-woods, an important tobacco manufactory, chemical works and rope works. It also has metallurgical and engineering works which construct commercial and war-vessels of every kind as well as engines and machinery, cables, boilers, etc.
Until 1516 Havre was only a fishing village possessing a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Grace, to which it owes the name, Havre (harbour) de Grace, given to it by Francis I. when he began the construction of its harbour. The town in 1562 was delivered over to the keeping of Queen Elizabeth by Louis I., prince de Conde, leader of the Huguenots, and the command of it was entrusted to Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick ; but the English were expelled in 1563, after a most obstinate siege, which was pressed forward by Charles IX. and his mother, Catherine de' Medici, in person. The defences of the town and the harbour-works were continued by Richelieu and completed by Vauban. In 1694 it was vainly besieged by the English, who also bombarded it in 1759, 1794 and 1795. It was a port of considerable importance as early as 1572, and despatched vessels to the whale and cod-fishing at Spitsbergen and Newfoundland. In 1672 it became the entrep6t of the French East India Company, and afterwards of the Senegal and Guinea companies. Napoleon I. raised it to a war harbour of the first rank, and under Napoleon III. works begun by Louis XVI. were completed.
See A. E. Borely, Histoire de la mile du Havre (Le Havre, 1880- 1881).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)