The Volcan at Le Havre!

Let me bring you back to my belle France and a city very much underrated due to its sad times during WWII. I have been here at least a couple times and my impressions are different than most travelers. We have enjoyed Le Havre!

Let me refresh your memory on how to get here.  Le Havre  is in the department de Seine-Maritime 76 of the region of Normandie right in the mouth of the Seine river. The city center of Le Havre is an Unesco World Heritage Site!!

The autoroute A131 link Le Havre to the A13  (autoroute de Normandie) by the other great bridge or Pont de Tancarville.  The autoroute A29 (autoroute des estuaires) link the metro area to the north of France and ends at the Pont de Normandie.  The trains are from the TER and Corail network   but no direct TGV service to Paris yet (working on it for 2020 if all goes well).  The regular trains put the city in touch with Gare Saint Lazare-Paris.

I have my posts on Le Havre but not on this unique building. The Grand Volcan is located exactly at 8 place Oscar Niemeyer, while the Library is at 2 place Oscar Niemeyer both not far from the Bassin du Commerce in Le Havre.

le havre

There is a wonderful Maison de la Culture du Havre built by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer ,known as the Volcan for it shape. Le Volcan, first Maison de la Culture created in 1961, then national stage in 1991. Le Volcan is today one of the most important national stages in France. It is a place of artistic production and dissemination of national reference in the field of theater, music, dance, circus, new aesthetics, new images and digital arts. The complex has two performance halls, one with 800 seats and the other with 125 seats. The establishment was created and inaugurated on November 18, 1982.

le havre

A large opening opposite Place Perret is articulated between a large majestic step which descends gently towards the lower square, facing the restored fountain and the main entrances to the building, a sequence of ramps accessible to people with reduced mobility, and a high promenade maintained in a balcony above the lower square.

The helical staircase of the southern access is preserved by being vented, and will descend gently to the east to catch up with the bottom of the large step and turn over the entire width of the space up to the building entry. The two west accesses, on the very lively side of the market, are modified. The helix ramp is turned over to correspond in the upper part with the covered passage which leads to the market and at the lower square level, with the equipment entrances. The elevators will see their functionality improved so that they are real urban elevators between upper square, lower square and parking.

It is divided into two distinct areas such as

Le Grand Volcan is a real reinforced concrete shell pierced with small portholes, the Grand Volcan suffers from a lack of natural light, the rehabilitation of the whole thus emphasizes the play of light and the choice of materials. Wood is in the spotlight with fabric and wood seats, parquet floors, curved wooden walls for the room, new wooden reception desks. The warm atmosphere thus provided is complemented by colorful notes of colorful drapes and partitions, and lighting highlighting the concrete plank walls.

The Oscar Niemeyer library offers a general documentary offer, self-study and quiet work spaces. Architecturally the glass facade overlooking the lower square has been improved. For more natural light, a central atrium is created by installing a glass roof. Inside, a real scenographic route is set up. Original and innovative, it counterbalances the scale of the building, a priori unsuitable for individual spaces, with atmospheres differentiated by lighting, furniture, textures and the choice of materials. The warm atmosphere of the Grand Volcan will be found at the entrance to the media library, which offers a café and press lounge area, directly visible from the outside thanks to the glass facade. Intuitive and readable by a light treatment on the ceiling, the route is then ascending and punctuated by balconies, boxes and alcoves like little reading rooms.

The entrance to the two major cultural facilities is through a common covered square on which there is also a bar-brasserie. A permanent place of conviviality, open to all locals and visitors alike. The covered space will be treated as a continuity with the outdoor spaces, the aim being to encourage people to enter and meet.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Le Volcan webpage

City of Le Havre on le Volcan

Tourist office of Le Havre on Le Volcan

And to give a bit on the destruction sufffered by this courageous city of Le Havre that practically came back from the ashes to be a vibrant metropolis that is today full of Arts around the sea here are some excerpts

The human toll was big in WWI to the city of Le Havre ,and it served as the rear base especially for the British navy where 1,9 million British soldiers passed by the port of Le Havre.

During WWII, the Nazis occupied Le Havre since the spring of 1940; and prepare the city for the invasion of the United Kingdom (Operation Seelôwe), making arrangement along the coast with casemates, blockhaus and batteries integrated into the Atlantic Wall. Le Havre received 132 bombardments by the Allies during the war with the most damaging coming on September 5-6 1944 with English Royal Air Force bombed the city center and the port to weakening the Nazis during operation Astonia; the  Royal Air Force did more than 2000 waves dropping about 10K tons of bombs. Le Havre was liberated by allied armies on September 12 1944. (My birthday!! but not the year ok lol!!)

There you go a nice place to be in the north and wonderful arts by the ocean to give it a sublime combination we love. Hope you too enjoy Le Havre

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!





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