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Brest France Brittany Brest

Brest France

Brest is located in a wide natural harbour, the Rade de Brest, which shelters it from the riotous seas that lash the coastline of Finistère, the westernmost part of Brittany. The post WWII architecture does nothing to alleviate the sense of greyness that descends upon the town when it rains, which it often does.

Originally there was a medieval port and winding streets, but all of this was flattened and now Brest is a modern, bleak town that is too windswept to sustain much verdure. Brest is an important naval base and white uniformed sailors are seen everywhere when on shore leave.


Brest

Both the gare SNCF and the gare routière are in place du 19ème Régiment d'Infanterie at the lower end of Avenue Clemenceau, and the tourist office is at number 8, opposite the place de la Liberté (02 98 44 24 96). The airport at Guipavas is 9km from the centre of Brest and has flights to London with Ryanair, or internal French flights.

As for hotels in Brest, there is a conglomeration of them around the place de la Liberté and station areas, but not many have their own restaurants. The Hotel de la Gare, 4 bd Gambetta (02 98 44 47 01) has views of the Rade de Brest from €40 55, or the swish Mercure Continental near the tourist office at square de la Tour d'Auvergne (02 98 80 50 40) has recently renovated rooms with an Art Deco twist for €125 150. The Comodeia at 21 rue d'Aguillon (02 98 46 54 82) is on a quiet street and has rooms for under €30 and a restaurant downstairs for functional, cheap accommodation.

The town of Brest has little to charm the tourist, but the impressive 15th century Chateau de Brest on the headland is a good thing to see from a distance, if a little dull inside. The Tour Tanguy is a 14th century tower that contains a history museum with relics from Brest's pre 1939 past. The best attraction in Brest, however, is Océanopolis (€13.50) east of the town at the Port de Plaisance, with its three aquariums (tropical, polar or local) detailing everything about sealife from how to spot it to how to cook it! The lifecycle of a scallop is rather cynically displayed next to a recipe for scallops.

For restaurants try the area near the station or the rue Jean Jaurès, which has bars and bistros, or the place Guérin for more studenty outfits. Ma Petite Folie (02 98 42 44 42) is a fishing boat moored at place du Moulin Blanc that serves a seafood menu at €17 and a wider range of à la carte dishes. If you like potatoes go to L'Amour de Pomme de Terre at 23 rue des Halles (02 98 43 48 51) where, as the name suggests, all the €20 dishes are based around the samba potato.