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5
Le Havre

The Church of St. Joseph (towering over all the other buildings in this shot of Le Havre) was personally designed by Auguste Perret, chief architect for the reconstruction of Le Havre. The port is visible in the background.

RIEGER Bertrand/hemis.fr/Getty Images

Nestled along the English Channel in Normandy at the mouth of the Seine estuary, Le Havre was a small fishing village before King Francois I transformed it into one of France's biggest harbors in the early 16th century. The city remained a thriving trade port until World War II, when it was violently bombed [sources: World Port Source, UNESCO].

Le Havre was meticulously reconstructed between 1945 and 1964, to mirror the town's original pattern while also making room for more modern urban planning and construction techniques. UNESCO called the remade city "a landmark of the integration of urban planning traditions."

It was originally constructed on top of drained marshes, and the rebuilders had planned to place it on a reinforced concrete platform roughly 11 feet (4 meters) above ground. However, that plan was scrapped due to postwar limits on iron and cement, and Le Havre remains subject to flooding, which is only expected to increase as sea levels rise [sources: UNESCO, IOP Science].

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