Destination Brittany: Why Not Choose… Brest?
Looking for a holiday by the sea? In Brest, a city constantly influenced by the call of the sea, the waves await you. At the point of Finistère, it is a little like being at the end of the world. As they often say here: "The next city is New York!" Head for its magnificent bay and ports to taste the pleasures of the sea air.
Answer the Call of the Seas
A boat trip, bathing, walking along the coast… facing out to the Atlantic, Brest's stunning bay has plenty of beaches to enjoy. After an invigorating dip if the weather is warm, head for the commercial port, where a host of cafés and restaurants line the seafront. Or maybe you prefer the marinas with their trademark jingling masts? You'll adore the Port du Moulin Blanc and the Port du Château in Brest, or the Port du Tinduff and the Port de l’Auberlach in Plougastel Daoulas.
However, the best way to take in the beauty of the bay is on a boat trip, sailing in the wake of Bougainville, La Pérouse and other great seafarers who set off from Brest.
A City Packed with History
Once you're back on dry land, it’s time to explore the heart of the city.
Start by visiting Brest Castle, the oldest monument in the city. It is 17 centuries old and houses the National Navy Museum, which covers the whole military history of the city. After stopping to see the Pont de Recouvrance, immerse yourself in history at the Tour Tanguy Museum, with its models and dioramas. Nearby, you will find the Arsenal, one of the symbols of the city, created by Richelieu in 1631.
In Brest, time has left its mark, and each neighbourhood bears the traces of its past. From Vauban's projects in the 17th century to the reconstruction of the city between 1946 and 1961 after much was destroyed in the Second World War, the city's architecture is steeped in history.
An Enchanting Territory
The Pays de Brest, surrounding Brest Métropole Océane, is made up of four distinct territories. In the north is the Pays des Abers, Côte des Légendes, which will take you from the beautiful beaches of Brignogan to the tortuous stretch of Aber Wrac’h, near Plouguerneau. To the west, the Pays d’Iroise, where with winding coastal paths and crashing waves, the wonders of the coast are laid before you from Plougonvelin to Conquet, and from Porspoder to Ploudalmézeau. Meanwhile, in the Pays des Rives d’Armorique, you can visit Landerneau, with its 500-year-old inhabited bridge and its majestic river running through the town. And finally, there is the Crozon Peninsular, which has 400km of marked trails for keen walkers. Visit Crozon or Camaret, idyllic seaside villages where time is governed by the tides.
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Jardin des explorateurs (Explorers' Garden): this garden is the legacy of Brest's important contribution to the 18th-century maritime expeditions. It contains a collection of plants brought back by four explorers who left from Brest, split into five geographical zones: Asia, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and South America.
Brest, port of records: Brest now has a promenade dedicated to record-holding seafarers. With its 18,000 hectares of exceptional coast, Brest has long been a departure and arrival port for sailing records: the Jules Verne Trophy, around the world, the Atlantic crossing...
Questel Fort: built on a 6 hectare site, this fortified and renovated building overlooks the Valley of the Allégoet: an affluent of the Penfeld. After much work, access to the main ogive dating back to the 18th century, which was blocked by stones and has now been cleared, is well worth the detour. While you're there, the fort offers lovely walks through its well-sheltered green moats, its underground sections, its steps, scarps and counterscarps.
The banks of the Penfeld: the upper valley of the Penfeld offers ample inspiration for wandering imaginations. There are magnificent walks, and benches or lawns perfect to rest on. These highly historical places have regained one of their past vocations: as somewhere to relax within a stone's throw of the city.
The Bay of Brest with a boat trip on the Brestoâ: all aboard the Brestoâ to sail to Brest or the Crozon Pensinsula. Admire the beauty of the bay. At lunchtime, treat yourself to a lunch cruise with oysters, white wine and strawberries from Plougastel!
The Morgat Marine Caves: our cliffs have many secrets, with deep caves hidden away in the stunningly coloured cliff face... Make sure you take a tour inside the Morgat Marine Caves.
The Fort of Bertheaume: this fort in Plougonvelin is not to be missed, standing 37 meters high and accessible via a footbridge over the waves!
The Brest Arsenal: a collection of military and naval buildings in the Penfeld river. It is France's second naval base , after Toulon . In Brest workers' language, the Brest Arsenal is also known as the "arsouil".
The Sadi Carnot Shelter: Brest's main underground shelter during the Second World War. In the night of 9 September 1944, it was the site of a terrible explosion which killed hundreds of people. Now an exhibition and commemorative space, it allows visitors to discover the history of the city during the Second World War, as well as the everyday life of its civil populations.
Brest Castle: built on Gallo-Roman foundations from the 3rd century, the castle was completed by Vauban in the 17th century. A demonstration of the power of the Counts of Léon up to the mid-14th century, an English enclave for fifty years, coveted by Brittany, England and France... in the Middle Ages the fortress at the end of the world was considered the strongest castle in existence.
What's to Eat in Brest?
Contrary to popular belief, in Brittany, they don't just eat crêpes! It is also a region where gastronomy sits side-by-side with traditions, and where chefs demonstrate great originality. Brest has plenty to get your mouth watering: strawberries from Plougastel, abalones from the Iroise Sea, sausage from Molène, lobster ragout, Kig ha farz (a sort of Breton stew, a speciality of Léon)... let yourself float away on an ocean of tastes!
January-February: Pluie d’Images Festival
Since 2004, this photography festival is one of the events which punctuate life in and around Brest. For this occasion, photography comes to cultural buildings, community centres, secular centres, libraries, schools, etc.
May: The Foire aux croutes
Every year, for three days over the week-end of Ascension, the "PLAGE GUERIN" association welcomes around 200 novice or experienced painters, allowing them to exhibit their works in tents or outdoors.
Every year, Astropolis brings together all the electronic music trends for three dizzying festival days around the city. There are giant concerts, club nights and electro afternoons... not to mention the explosive finale: a fantastic rave in the grounds of the Manor of Keroual.
July-August: Port Thursdays
An unmissable event in Brest, the Jeudis du Port (Port Thursdays) give summer a party feel, with music and street arts making up an eclectic program, in an impressive setting and a friendly atmosphere, with recognised or upcoming artists.
November-December: "Grandes Marées" High Tide Festival
This festival is the chance to discover Brest's historical and cultural heritage and the projects carried out in partnership with local associations.
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