Ferries and cruises to Le Havre (Paris), France

Paris; the city of love, the city of culture, the city of romantic dreams…

It’s a place that has become the stuff of legend, and the best part of all the stories is that they are true – Paris really is for lovers. It’s also for artists and thinkers, for historians and scientists, and for anyone wanting a memorable, exciting, and absolutely fascinating break away from home.

There is something rather magical in the air around Paris. Vibrant and buzzing with sound and movement, the city is alive with hope and dreams for the future, as well as an awesome respect for the past. Visit Paris and you won’t leave without having learned something important about the place, and possibly yourself too.

Paris is the capital of France, and the busiest too. Situated on the banks of the River Seine in the north of the country, it has been populated since around 9800BC. That’s a lot of time to get it to where it is now, a wonderful place to visit.

Getting to Paris

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Portsmouth Le Havre 1 daily 15½ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Cruise line Typical itinerary Prices
Southampton Ports such as Le Havre See prices °
Southampton; Dover; Portsmouth Ports such as Le Havre See prices °
Southampton Ports such as Le Havre See prices
Southampton; Harwich Ports such as Le Havre See prices °
Southampton Ports such as Le Havre See prices

This information is for reference purposes only. Information correct at the time of writing.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Cruise & Maritime Voyages 2 for 1 sale from £279
  2. 2 for 1 Guernsey mini cruise on Condor Ferries from £32
  3. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp

Top attractions in Paris

  • You can't not visit the Eiffel Tower, arguably the most internationally recognisable emblem of the city.
  • The Montparnasse Tower is equally worth a visit. While it doesn't have the same notoriety as the Eiffel Tower it does boast panoramic views of Paris from its observation deck. Most importantly your photos will actually include the Eiffel Tower, a feat that's impossible from the tower itself.
  • A visit to Le Louvre is a must.
  • If you've got time then a cruise along the River Seine offers magnificent views.

Sightseeing

Paris is full of things to do, but if you’ve never visited before there are some ‘must sees’ that a trip to the capital of France just wouldn’t be complete without. The list below should give you some ideas of how to spend your time here.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is probably the most famous of all Paris landmarks. Built in 1889, it was originally the arched entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair and since then millions (250 million as of 2010) of people have walked around it, through it, and up it.

When Gustave Eiffel first envisioned his masterpiece, it’s unlikely he would ever have imagined just how popular, and how iconic, it would later become. From marriage proposals to attempts at flying (albeit rather fatal ones), the Eiffel Tower (or the Tour Eiffel as it is known in Paris) has spanned not only the Champ de Mars, but historic moments in the city’s past as well.

Tickets can be purchased to access the tower itself, and there are 300 steps to contend with, although the higher levels also have lifts. The views are magnificent, and to say you have climbed the tallest structure in Paris is a pretty impressive feat.

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris is most well known for being the back drop of Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name (translated as The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English). This cathedral is an architectural dream, with its gothic gargoyles, columns, and spires reaching far into the Parisian sky.

Situated on the Ȋle de la Cité, this has to be one of the most famous – if not the most famous – cathedrals in the world. When the cathedral was completed in 1345, the exterior was a glorious colour, but centuries of pollution and weather has taken its toll, and turned it into a grey structure that is, nonetheless, still beautiful.

Visiting the cathedral is a must, whether you venture up the 387 steps to see the bell and the gargoyles face to face, or whether you prefer to keep your feet on the ground and enjoy the interior of the cathedral itself.

Le Jardin du Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Garden, more commonly known as Le Jardin du Luxembourg in France, is a 23 hectare park with beautifully designed lawns, flowerbeds, promenades, and tree lined walking and cycling routes. It was begun by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of Henry IV of France, in 1612 because she wanted somewhere beautiful for her new residence, the Luxembourg Palace, to be built.

It’s a good thing she did, as otherwise this stunning example of exterior design would not now be a place to visit when in Paris. With numerous statues and fountains (including the Medici Fountain) as well as large open spaces (including a well-kept children’s playground and carousel), the area is famed for being the perfect place to relax, thanks to its particularly calming atmosphere.

Avenue des Champs Elysees

As streets go, the Avenue des Champs Elysees has to be up there with the most iconic of them all. Fashion models and superstars of stage and screen have traipsed up and down the pavements of the Champs Elysees, and when you are in Paris it would be a shame not to literally follow in their footsteps.

The Champs Elysees is a 70 metre wide street that runs for almost two kilometres between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. It is full of theatres, boutiques, and traditional French cafes and bistros. Examples of the shops you will find here include the Disney Store, Zara, H&M, Louis Vuitton, and Lacoste. Sit and watch the world go by or shop ’til you drop on the Champs Elysees.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is an imposing monument that sits squarely at one end of the Champs Elysees. And it’s not called the Arc de Triomphe. Not entirely, anyway – it’s full title is the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile (the arch of the triumphant star). However, it’s very rare to hear the full name, and everyone knows it simply as the Arc de Triomphe.

This massive arch was built over 30 years between 1806 and 1836, and was commissioned to honour those who had fallen during the Napoleonic Wars. As time marched on, it came to represent soldiers who had fought in all French wars, and after World War I an unknown soldier was interred beneath it.

If you choose to climb to the top of the 50 metre structure, you will be able to see the entire length of the impressive Champs Elysees, and snap some perfect holiday photos.

Musee du Louvre

The Musee du Louvre is a wonderful way to spend a few hours or a whole day. There is enough here to start early and finish late (using the exceptional café for lunch), but equally the exhibitions are ideal for just popping in and out when you fancy it.

Open every day except Tuesdays, with free entrance on the first Sunday of every month between October and March, it is always worth visiting this iconic building. The pyramid itself is stunning, and the feeling of disappearing underneath it as you descend on the escalator to the entrance of the museum is an exhilarating one – you’ll certainly feel a thrill.

Once inside, there are, of course, some displays that you cannot afford to miss; the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Michelangelo’s David. But there is more to the museum than these world renowned pieces, and the changing exhibitions are from all over the world.

River Seine

For a peaceful, serene, yet informative tour of the city of Paris, why not take a cruise along the River Seine? The river has been the muse of poets, writers, and artists for centuries, not to mention the fact that it enabled Paris to trade and grow into a successful commercial city, so it’s only right that a visit to Paris should include the famous river.

A river cruise will, depending on which one you opt for (and there are many) take you under at least some of the 32 bridges that span the Seine, as well as past as many tourist attractions as possible. So sit back, relax, and learn more about Paris in an hour than you thought was possible.

And there's more...

To really appreciate Paris, you need to visit more than once. But what to do on those second, third, fiftieth trips? As it turns out, there is plenty to see here.

If you thought Moulin Rouge was a film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, you’d only be half right. The Moulin Rouge is not just a great film, but it is actually a real place in Paris, complete with iconic windmill (the name translates as ‘red mill’), and it has been around since 1889.

The Moulin Rouge is the home of the can-can, and this is where cabaret began. Decadent and daring both then and now, for a fun and utterly unforgettable night out, tickets to the Moulin Rouge should definitely be on your Parisian to do list.

Paris is full of shops, but some shops are that little more interesting than others. A case in point is the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop on the Rue de la Bûcherie. This long time staple of Paris’ Left Bank. In its heyday, this was a library, a bookshop, a boarding house (but only for writers), and a publishing house, and Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor (he even mentioned the shop in his memoir, A Moveable Feast. Full to the brim with second hand books, there are treasures untold to be unearthed from its shelves.

Montmartre is a hill. That may not sound too exciting or much fun, but it is a hill with a difference. This particular hill is where the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur sits, looking out over the north of Paris. The area of Montmartre itself is where artists gathered to soak up the atmosphere and create – luminaries such as Picasso, Monet, Dali, and van Gogh all came to Montmartre.

It was known as an artists’ area, and this has not changed over the centuries. As for the famous white church, it is open every day from 6am until 10.30pm, and visitors are welcome to stroll around the building as they please. It is even possible to arrange a special pilgrimage to the basilica, and the trip includes accommodation and food.

The Hotel de Ville in Paris is the town hall and tourist office, so it’s a handy place to visit anyway, but the neo-renaissance architecture of the outside, and the surprising beauty of the inside (for example, the function room is a replica of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles) make this a bonus attraction. Tours must be booked in advance, but it is worth doing so to experience the city’s inner workings.

The Île Saint Louis is a naturally occurring island which is connected to Paris proper by four bridges. Once this area was used to graze cattle – a sort of urban farm – and these days it is a wonderful place to get away from the bustling, busy city. The streets of the Île Saint Louis are narrow, one way roads that mean any traffic has to move slowly and steadily. Mostly residential, the area has not changed much since the 18th century, so here it is possible to see what it would have been like to live in Paris hundreds of years ago.

Hotels

The idea of staying the night (or nights) in Paris is certainly an alluring one. There is so much to see and do here, and picking the perfect hotel for you and your budget will make everything even better.

Bargain hotels in Paris

For the best value in town, here are a few places to choose from:

The elegant little Hotel Darcet is a bit of a surprise; from the outside it might appear to be a standard budget hotel, but once inside it is full of charm. The staff are friendly, the location is excellent (just 15 minutes from the main tourist attractions and surrounded by cafés and bars), and the rooms are clean and comfortable. There is even a 24-hour ‘snack bar’ available to guests serving hot drinks and pastries. Ideal!

As you might expect, the bijou Hotel Korner is located right on the corner of a quiet street in Montparnasse. Close to the station and the Metro, you won’t need to walk too far to get into central Paris. Nothing is too much for the staff here, and you’ll receive a complimentary drink once you’ve checked in.

Family-friendly hotels in Paris

Families are more than welcome in Paris, and most hotels will cater for larger groups. Some do it better than others though, and here are some of them:

It doesn’t get much better than a stunningly beautiful hotel with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower, and this is exactly what the Hotel Le Bristol has. Not only that, but it is perfectly placed to look after your entire family, and even your pets if you want. The manager is on hand to answer any queries, and the staff will go out of their way to make sure your stay is a happy one. There is even a hotel cat to play with!

With spacious family rooms available (including suites with a kitchen and as many facilities as you could need), a child-friendly location right by the Metro that will take you all over Paris, and staff that will give you hints and tips on how to make your Parisian adventure the best it can be, Hotel Le Six is a wonderful hotel to use as your base when visiting Paris.

Paris' finest hotels

Paris and luxury go hand in hand, so why not enjoy a special hotel as well?

Step inside Le Royal Monceau-Raffles and you’ll instantly know that this is a top class hotel. This five star boutique establishment will exceed all your expectations, and by the end of your stay you’ll really feel like a superstar. Located just off the Champs Elysees and with its own pool and spa, you can be pampered and preened ready to venture out into the Paris excitement.

St James Paris would not look out of place in the middle of the French countryside, yet this gorgeous château is right in the heart of Paris itself. This oasis in the city serves top class food, fantastic wine, and the rooms are large and sumptuously decorated. If you want to really treat yourself or a loved one, St James is the place to do it.

Restaurants

When you visit Paris, you expect the food to be good. This is France, after all! But where are the best places to eat?

Budget choices in Paris

For value for money, there are a number of restaurants that would suit.

It doesn’t look it, but Restaurant de la Tour is actually a cheap place to eat! Despite the beautifully presented food and the impeccable service, a meal for two won’t come in at bank breaking levels. Choose from dishes such as mixed salad with pear and blue cheese, venison filet Mignon, and crepes Suzette! This is a traditional French style restaurant that is comfortable and classy.

If you are in the mood for Lebanese food, and you don’t want to pay the earth for it, Maoz is the place for you. With a large selection of toppings for your falafels, and a huge vegetarian menu, it’s the ideal place to rejuvenate your energy levels ready for the next portion of city exploring!

Family-friendly Restaurants in Paris

Taking the children out for a meal should be a fun, memorable experience. Choose one of these restaurants and it will be!

La Boule Rouge offers combination of Jewish and Tunisian cuisine. With traditional lamb and couscous dishes, meatballs, salads, and desserts, as well as a set menu which even includes wine, you and your family can sample the delights of Arab-Jewish food in a convivial atmosphere where the children are welcome – and welcomed.

Nos Ancetres Les Gaulois is the perfect place to get the kids to eat their vegetables, as once at your (shared) table you will receive a delicious basket of fresh veg. Eat as much as you want (and drink as much as you want) for a set price, and enjoy the fun, loud atmosphere. You will make friends and discover new tastes whilst listening to a French troubadour singing ballads around the room.

Push the boat out in Paris

For a special meal out, there is, of course, an array of exceptional restaurants in Paris, home of fine dining:

Le Cinq is not cheap, and with a possible (depending on what you order, of course) final bill of £600 or more, it’s not the kind of place you just pop into on a whim. However, for a once in a lifetime treat, this is a stunning place to eat. With a dinner menu that includes maki rolls of red shrimp from Sicily, trap caught blue lobster, Chilean sea bass with lemon and ginger, hibiscus jelly, and Caribbean chocolate ingot, you won’t go away hungry. A tasting menu, fine wines from around the world, and the feeling that you are being treated like royalty go a long way to making this the most exciting dining experience you could wish for.

Epicure is a superb fine dining restaurant is based in Hotel Le Bristol, but you don’t have to be staying there in order to enjoy the stunning food on offer. Relaxed and enjoyable (but do bear in mind that men should wear jackets), this restaurant is nonetheless capable of giving you the best in haute cuisine – and it has won awards to prove it, including a Michelin star. Choose from stuffed macaroni with black truffle, artichoke, and foie gras, blue lobster roasted in its shell, veal sweetbreads, and desserts made from the finest fruits and chocolates from around the world.

Family travel

Paris is traditionally thought of as a place for lovers and couples to enjoy, but it is also a wonderful place for families to discover together. Whether it is enjoying the museums or seeing the famous sights that everyone already recognises from books and television and favourite films, or even just wandering the beautiful old streets and discovering new places (and food and experiences), it is certainly worth a visit.

When to Visit Paris

The famous line about Paris in spring time might sound appealing, but is the spring really the best time to visit the city? In spring, the many parks and gardens around Paris are in full bloom, and it really is the most beautiful place to spend time.

But what about other seasons?

In the summer there are a lot of festivals throughout the city, including Bastille Day on 14th July, the Paris Street Music Festival on 21st June, and the open air cinema in Parc de la Villette in July and August.

Autumn has its own delights; there is the annual wine festival in Montmartre, for example, plus Autumn is the time when the Parisians return after their summer holidays, so the city instantly becomes more authentically French and less touristy.

The city literally lights up in winter, and Christmas is everywhere. This is a great time to get some shopping done before enjoying a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or warming aperitif in one of the many cosy cafés around the city.

Handy information

Where you will dock

Most cruise ships dock in Le Havre for Paris. It's not close though and takes around two hours by car to reach, longer if you are travelling by coach on a shore excursion.

For tourists looking to explore Le Havre then this town sits to the north of the port and is around 1 mile (about 2 kilometres) away from the ferry terminal.

Nearest airports

Le Havre Octeville Airport (LEH) is the closest regional airport to the port at around 5 miles (about 8 kilometres) to the north, but it only handles a small number of flights. Deauville-Normandy Airport (DOL) offers a greater number of flights but is 21 miles (about 34 kilometres) to the south. Alternatively Caen Carpiquet Airport (CFR) is around 64 miles (about 103 kilometres) to the south west of Le Havre.

Nearest railway stations

Gare de Le Havre is around a 1 mile (about 2 kilometres) walk from the ferry terminal. Here you can catch the intercity service to Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris.

Currency

The currency used in Paris is the Euro (€). 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Euro coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents coins. Euro bank notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 values.

The exchange rate is currently around £1 equals €0.00. The rate you get when exchanging currency online or on the high street may differ to this rate as this figure comes courtesy of the European Central Bank. The foreign exchange rate may differ from this so it pays to shop around to get the most currency for your money

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Portsmouth Le Havre 1 daily 15½ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Cruise line Typical itinerary Prices
Southampton Ports such as Le Havre See prices °
Southampton; Dover; Portsmouth Ports such as Le Havre See prices °
Southampton Ports such as Le Havre See prices
Southampton; Harwich Ports such as Le Havre See prices °
Southampton Ports such as Le Havre See prices

This information is for reference purposes only. Information correct at the time of writing.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Cruise & Maritime Voyages 2 for 1 sale from £279
  2. 2 for 1 Guernsey mini cruise on Condor Ferries from £32
  3. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
Tip: Other suitable ports where onward travel to Paris is feasible include Calais, Dunkirk, Caen and St Malo. All are a considerable distance from the French capital city though.

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