Receive the newsletter

Share :


Bassin du commerce
from 25 June  to 18 September 

Discovery tour: Waterside

The smallest sailboats in the world, Optimists are also used to teach sailing to the very young. If we haven't had the chance to climb aboard one these miniature boats, we’ve at least seen them happily sailing in Le Havre, in the Bassin du Commerce or on the beach. 

Lorène Dengoyan became interested in the International Code of Maritime Signals, a universal visual language used to transmit messages on sails, when the radio wasn’t yet used to communicate on boats. The 26 images each refer to a message and a letter of the alphabet.

The Optimists, displaying their new colours, form and deform meanings, words, to constitute a living installation. 

“During my daily walks, I’d see many boats coming and going. What struck me most were the movements of the container ships adorned with giant letters on their hulls. Seeing the letters parade by, heading towards the horizon, helped lead to the emergence of this current offering.

For my part, I knew very little about the maritime world, but this city very quickly taught me to take an interest in it.

This is how I discovered the maritime code and these different symbols which each represent a letter of the alphabet. I quickly focused on these maritime flags. In addition to the aesthetic dimension they have, these flags are important and used to communicate. A way for me to see anew the passage of moving letters within the city itself. By combining flags and boats, a new dimension unfolds.

This creates an educational, interactive and constantly moving device (whether at sea, moored or on land). This installation reactivates this little-known language and lets me share a certain vision of this landscape. The Optimist type of boat seemed relevant to me for several reasons: it's the smallest sailboat in the world, it's the first boat on which children learn to sail, it's a fond memory for many people in Le Havre, it's a symbol of summer and holidays by the sea, it's on the move, and always in a group, so ideal for the alphabet. »

Lorène Dengoyan

This work was produced as part of a partnership between Un Été Au Havre and the Ecole Supérieure d’Art & Design Le Havre - Rouen.

Practical info




Bassin du commerce
25 June  / 18 September 

Bassin du commerce
Bassin du commerce

  • Visitors with physical disabilities
  • Visitors with hearing impairment
  • Visitors with mental disabilities
  • Visitors with visual impairment

Work visible in the basin during sailing lessons, and on the quay outside



Discovery tour

Étape 32 du Waterside



How to get here
Bus 1, C2, 4, 6, 7, stop Richelieu
  • Bar
  • Store
  • Bike hire
  • Bike parking
  • Free parking
  • Paid parking
  • Information desk
  • Catering
  • Snacks
  • WC
  • Wi-fi
  • Rest area
Share :