Paris–Le Havre railway

The Paris–Le Havre railway (Ligne Paris–Le Havre) is an important 228-kilometre long railway line, that connects Paris to the northwestern port city Le Havre via Rouen. Among the first railway lines in France, the section from Paris to Rouen opened on 9 May 1843, followed by the section from Rouen to Le Havre that opened on 22 March 1847.[2]

Paris–Le Havre railway
Ligne Paris–Le Havre
Pont Austreberthe 01 09.jpg
The Barentin Viaduct, also known as the Pont Austreberthe,
on the Paris–Le Havre railway
LocaleFrance (Île-de-France, Normandy)
TerminiGare Saint-Lazare, Paris
Le Havre station
Line length228 km (142 mi)
Number of tracksDouble track
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz[1]
Route map
0.0 Paris-Saint-Lazare
1.7 Pont-Cardinet
3.2 Clichy–Levallois
4.2 River Seine
4.5 Asnières-sur-Seine
to Versailles–Rive Droite
to Argenteuil
from Les Vallées
8.1 La Garenne-Colombes
to Saint-Germain-en-Laye
from Nanterre-Université
10.9 River Seine
12.8 Houilles–Carrières-sur-Seine
15.2 Grande Ceinture from Noisy-le-Sec
15.5 Sartrouville
16.0 River Seine
16.8 Maisons-Laffitte
21.3 Achères – Grand Cormier
to Pontoise
Grande Ceinture to Versailles
25.8 Poissy
29.7 Villennes-sur-Seine
34.6 Vernouillet – Verneuil
37.0 Les Clairières de Verneuil
40.3 Les Mureaux
45.6 Aubergenville-Élisabethville
to Plaisir-Grignon
48.6 Épône – Mézières
from Conflans-Sainte-Honorine
56.1 Mantes-Station
57.3 Mantes-la-Jolie
Line to Caen and Cherbourg
62.8 Rosny-sur-Seine
68.8 Bonnières
79.9 Vernon–Giverny
93.2 Gaillon-Aubevoye
106.7 Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray
107.1 to Louviers
111.6 Val-de-Reuil
115.7 River Seine
from Gisors
119.0 Pont-de-l'Arche
124.4 to Serquigny
125.3 River Seine
125.7 Oissel
129.6 Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray
133.6 Sotteville
to Rouen Saint-Sever
135.4 River Seine
Line to Amiens
139.5 Rouen-Rive-Droite
145.0 Maromme
148.9 Malaunay-Le Houlme
to Dieppe
156.7 Barentin
158.4 Pavilly
from Montérolier-Buchy
169.7 Motteville
to Saint-Valery-en-Caux
177.1 Yvetot
188.3 Foucart-Alvimare
196.7 Bolbec-Nointot
from Notre-Dame-de-Gravenchon
from Fécamp
202.2 Bréauté-Beuzeville
207.5 Virville-Manneville
210.6 Étainhus-Saint-Romain
217.5 Saint-Laurent-Gainneville
221.7 Harfleur
Line from Rolleville
225.2 Le Havre-Graville
227.9 Le Havre


The Paris–Le Havre line leaves the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris in northwestern direction. It crosses the river Seine at Asnières-sur-Seine, and again at Houilles. After Poissy it follows the left bank of the Seine. At Mantes-la-Jolie, the line to Caen and Cherbourg branches off. Between Rolleboise and Bonnières-sur-Seine, and again between Aubevoye and Venables large meanders of the Seine are bypassed.

Near Rouen, the Seine is crossed at Le Manoir, at Oissel and at Sotteville-lès-Rouen. After crossing central Rouen and the main station Rouen-Rive-Droite, it climbs in northwestern direction onto the Pays de Caux plateau. At Motteville it turns west, crosses the town Yvetot and descends to the Seine estuary. After a total length of 228 km, it reaches its terminus Le Havre station.

Main stationsEdit

The main stations on the Paris–Le Havre railway are:


Opening ceremony of the Rouen and Le Havre Railway

Following the success of the early railways in Britain, France was encouraged to develop a railway network, in part, to link with the railway system in Britain. To this end the Paris and Rouen Railway Company was established, and Joseph Locke was appointed as its engineer. Determining that bids submitted by French contractors were too expensive, he suggested that British contractors should be invited to tender. Thomas Brassey and William MacKenzie, two British contractors, jointly tendered an offer, which was accepted in 1841. (Between 1841 and 1844, Brassey and Mackenzie won contracts to build four French railways, including the Orléans and Bordeaux Railway.)[3]

In January 1846, during construction of the 58-mile (93 km) long Rouen and Le Havre line, one of the few major structural disasters of Brassey's contracting career occurred, the collapse of the Barentin Viaduct. The 100 feet (30 m) high viaduct that crosses the Austreberthe River was built of brick at a cost of about £50,000. The reason for the collapse was never established, but a possible cause was the nature of the lime used to make the mortar. The contract stipulated that this had to be obtained locally, and the collapse occurred after a few days of heavy rain. Brassey rebuilt the viaduct at his own expense, this time using lime of his own choice. The rebuilt viaduct still stands and remains in use today.[4]

The section from Paris–Rouen had been completed a few years earlier by two different firm, but both parts were united and became part of Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest in 1855.[5] The first 8 km of the railway, until La Garenne-Colombes, are shared with the line to Le Pecq that was opened in 1837 and extended to Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1847. The original terminus of the railway was the Rouen Saint-Sever station on the left bank of the Seine. When the line was extended to Le Havre in 1847, a new station was built on the right bank of the Seine, the Rouen-Rive-Droite station (originally: Gare de Rouen-Rue Verte).[2]


The Paris–Le Havre railway is used by the following passenger services:

Cultural referencesEdit

The Paris–Le Havre railway plays a central part in Jean Renoir's 1938 film La Bête Humaine (The Human Beast), starring Jean Gabin.

The line is extensively referred to in "Maigret" season 1 episode 2, starring Rowan Atkinson. A mystery suspect 'travelled from Paris to Goderville on the slow train to Le Harve, a journey which nobody makes.'


  1. ^ "RFF - Map of electrified railway lines" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b Direction Générale des Ponts et Chaussées et des Chemins de Fer (1869). Statistique centrale des chemins de fer. Chemins de fer français. Situation au 31 décembre 1869 (in French). Paris: Ministère des Travaux Publics. pp. 146–160.
  3. ^ Helps 2006, pp. 44–45, 106–114.
  4. ^ Helps 2006, pp. 50–53.; Stacey 2005, p. 17.; Haynes, pp. 59–60.
  5. ^ Joanne, Adolphe (1859). Atlas historique et statistique des chemins de fer français (in French). Paris: L. Hachette. p. 39.
  • Helps, Arthur (2006) [1872], The Life and Works of Mr Brassey, Stroud: Nonsuch, ISBN 1-84588-011-0

External linksEdit