"The End of the Earth" Top 5 Page for this destination Brest by bzh
Brest Travel Guide: 136 reviews and 369 photos
Brest is the place where I was born. Located at the bottom of a natural bay, at the west end of the Britanny peninsula. Its protected location means that it is ideal to receive any type of ship, from the smallest dinghy to the biggest airplane carrier (the USS Nimitz has visited a few times). Its location also means it is at the heart of one of the most culturally rich regions of France, Brittany, and the local people are extremely proud of this. Every occasion to mix cultural and maritime heritage is a good excuse for a party. The best of those happens every four years, when the town organises a tall ship meeting.
Tall ships refer to large traditional sailing ships, such as the tea clippers of the 19th Century and the term is usually extended to any traditional ship or replica of. So, every four years, thousand of traditional ships from all over the world head for the Bay of Brest. The last of those events happened in 2000, when the harbour received 3500 ships and 1.5million visitors, over 4 days in July. A good recipe for a huge party and when it comes to party, trust the Bretons.
The town of Brest itself is not very attractive, apart from a few select monuments such as the Castle and the Tour Tanguy. This is because British and American pilots bombed it flat during World War II, in an attempt to destroy the submarine base the Germans had built in the harbour. As a result, the town was hastilly rebuilt in the 50's with the help of a lot of concrete.
But drive or take a bus a few kilometers out of town and you will discover some of the most impressive landscapes. From fine white sand beaches to tall granite cliffs, this extremely dented coastline is dazzling. Everything to do with the sea, you can do. Sunbathing, windsurfing, yachting, fishing, it's all there. But don't assume anything about the weather, even in the middle of summer. Brittany is quite far up North on the West coast of France and when Mother Nature decides to remind the locals that she is in charge, the resulting storms can be impressive.
If you like fish and seafood, this is the place for you. Any restaurant will have fresh fish on the menu and you can even find a few fish only restaurants. Any market or supermarket will have an extensive fish and seafood offer if you want to cook yourself. On the other hand, if you'd rather see live fish in their environment rather than eating it, head for the Oceanopolis marine centre and don't forget to bring the kids.
Back on the food front, you cannot leave Brittany before having sampled the most famous local delicacy, the Breton crepe. You will find crepe restaurants (called "crÃªperies") all over the place. and make sure you eat them with real farmhouse Breton cider.
Finally, if you want to bring back home some local delicacies, head for the biscuit section. My favourites are called Traou Mad and they are similar in a way to Scottish shortbreads. But beware, Breton biscuits are made from real full fat butter so, if you are on a diet, you might be better off buying chocolates.
- Pros:Amazing landscapes, fantastic food, great pubs, rich culture, very decent prices.
- Cons:The weather can be cold and rainy, even in summer.
- In a nutshell:A cool little town in a dramatic landscape.
When in Brest, you could spend all your time in the harbour, on the beach, discovering the coast around or trying out... more travel advice
Océanopolis is not just an aquarium. It is a full blown marine life museum. Divided in three parts, for temperate, polar... more travel advice
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