Le Havre, which lies along the English Channel on France's western coast, is the common port of entry for big ships calling on Paris and most typically a place to go through on your way to the City of Lights. By no means would we dissuade cruise travelers from making the long slog to "tres magnifique" Paris on a first visit, but on a return trip, Le Havre itself, both on its own merits and because of its proximity to Normandy (which is also quite magical), is worth a look-see.
While Le Havre is an ancient and textured city, dating back to the 16th century, it was badly bombed during World War II, losing much of its historic appeal. Still, it's been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the way it was rebuilt; the organization noted that Le Havre is "exceptional among many reconstructed cities for its unity and integrity."
Le Havre's prime location between Honfleur and Normandy offers a huge range of options. It's a gateway to the beaches that witnessed the bravery of D-Day and to the coasts and countryside that inspired so many artists. It's also a good place to visit for its art galleries and cafes, and it offers a relaxing alternative to the half-day commute into Paris.