Le Havre

Something has gone very wrong in France in the last 40 years. Specifically, something has gone very wrong with French architecture and taste. A country once justly famous for the beauty of its art, the splendour of its buildings and cities has totally lost the plot. Or maybe they’ve just been the victim of a deep and high level conspiracy between the government and a cement company…. In any case, one of the greatest examples of this terrible fall from grace can be viewed in Le Havre, the second largest port city of France, once a bustling, historic harbour city, home of the French fleet. Now, admittedly, we didn’t do it any favours, bombing the place to dust in advance of the D Day Landings in 1944. However, given the famously exquisite taste of the French, wouldn’t you think they would view this as yet another opportunity to demonstrate said taste by rebuilding in the most aesthetically pleasing manner possible???? You would??? Well, you’d be wrong… because right there… right there in the very heart of the city, they built this:

And this:

Which, believe it or not, is actually the rebuilt cathedral!!!!!!   No, not the Temple of Zog as you may, quite justifiably have first imagined.

And many other horrible cement monstrosities. In fact, the whole place is a giant cement monstrosity. A veritable poem to cement. And we saw it on a sunny day. God knows what it must look like on a grey, rainy November day…..
So, we had a wander around the only thing open on a Sunday, which was a little market. Very nice. Some good cheese and vegetable stalls.DSC09160


We weren’t buying though. You’ll notice even the stall holders can hardly bear to look at their surroundings…  🙂

And we had coffees in the square and watched the world go by in front of the bizarre cement upside down bucket. We wanted to go to Honfleur but the buses weren’t running. The car rental places weren’t open. There wasn’t a train and the taxis wanted 125 euro for the 20 minute trip. So….
Spent the afternoon back on the ship, reading in the sun. It was lovely.
Tonight we went to an early show in the theatre. A British comedy ventriloquist who we’ve seen before on other ships. He does a slightly risqué act featuring a variety of dummies including a roguish old grandad and a skinny legged boxer. At times his waggly finger is deployed as a fake willy. God knows what the elderly Americans made of it, but there was a lot of laughter.

We had dinner with another English couple and two American couples and it was a very jolly table. Very enjoyable. I had crayfish tail and shrimp for starter followed by lemon sole. Bob had vegetable tempura followed by roast beef with Yorkshire pudding (rubbish) and then pear soufflé with Drambuie sauce.
After dinner we went up to the Movies Under the Stars and deployed our blankets again. It had been torrenting down but we managed to get under cover still with a view of the screen. The film was The Mummy with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. It was pretty terrible, not helped by the poor sound quality. We gave up after about an hour and turned in.
Tomorrow we have the first of two sea days before arriving in Lisbon on Wednesday. Fingers crossed the Bay of Biscay will be calm for us.