A Few Things To Do In Brest, France

Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

A Large Commercial Port In Brest, France

We enjoyed a magical day when we visited Mont St Michel in France. That was a slow disembarkation day as we tendered from the ship to shore. But in Brest we were once again docked in the commercial port. Beside us we saw a most ugly collection of tanker buildings and commercial ships.

Commercial Port.jpg

Commercial Port.jpg

The port security did not allow anyone to walk off the ship. So we waited for the Oceania Cruises shuttle to go into town and explored a few things to do in Brest.

It appeared that most people had no booked tours in this port. So the shuttle buses ran full most of the day. Our shuttle had 3 different stops. We got off in the central part of town. After we walked and saw a few things in Brest, we got back on the shuttle by the castle.

The Centre Of Town At Liberté Square

The bus stop in town was right in the main square of Brest at Liberté Square. On one side of the road we saw administrative buildings and on the other there was a large stone pillar with the town name.

Liberty Square.jpg

Liberty Square - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Liberty Square - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

We followed the tram path downhill along Siam Street. We could have used the tram to get to many spots around town. But it was easy to walk to the few things to do in Brest on our list.

Town Tram Bibus On Siam.jpg

Siam was the shopping street in town. There was a mix of small boutiques and cafes. We saw a few pieces of quite abstract street art. It would not be the last we found as we wandered in Brest.

Town Murals.jpg

Town Murals.jpg

Saint Louis De Brest Church

We found a spot to sit and watched the traffic go by. Across the street was the L’Eglise Saint Louis de Brest. This newer church sat on top of an older church. The red doors were meant to symbolize the blood of Brest residents who died during WWII. The doors were submarine-shaped as a tribute to Brest’s maritime history.

Eglise Saint Louis.jpg

We found the interior design of this church very different from the many churches we saw on our travels along the Baltic coast on this trip. The altar and stained glass looked like modern art. The stained glass windows along the side represented different saints.

Eglise Saint Louis Altar - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Eglise Saint Louis Stained Glass - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Eglise Saint Louis Stained Glass.jpg

Eglise Saint Louis Saints Stained Glass - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Eglise Saint Louis Saints Stained Glass.jpg

Our visit to the Saint Louis De Brest Church was one of the things to do in Brest that showed more of the modern art and maritime tradition of this city.

The Big Bridge – Pont De Recouvrance

We headed next to the Port De Recouvrance. As we neared the La Penfeld River, we stopped and watched a cable car approach at Jean Moulin. There were several bridges that crossed the river. But the cable car looked like much more fun. It ran every 12 minutes and cost 4€ each way.

Jean Moulin Cable Car - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Jean Moulin Cable Car - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

As we walked along the river, we got yet another view of how busy the port at Brest was. This was the second largest military port in France after Toulon. We saw many Navy ships in the water and one in dry dock.

Pont de Recouvrance Bridge Naval Boats - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Pont de Recouvrance Bridge Naval Boats.jpg

Pont de Recouvrance Bridge Naval Boats Dry Dock.jpg

The Port De Recouvrance was a massive drawbridge which stood over 210 feet high. On the lower level we saw the bridge that was raised as ships passed through.

Pont de Recouvrance Bridge - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Across the river we saw the Tanguy Tower. It housed a small museum with a collection of dioramas that showed Brest on the brink of WWII.

Pont de Recouvrance Bridge Tour Tanguy Tower - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

Before we left this area we saw yet one more modern art piece in Brest. The L’Arbor Empathique was a 12 metre high sculpture meant to be a mix of a tree and technology.

Pont de Recouvrance Bridge LArbre Empathique sculpture - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

We certainly found an interesting mix of things to do in Brest.

We Finished Up At The Castle of Brest

As we kept walking along the water, we got a view of the castle. The castle was originally built for the Earls of Leon. It was at the centre of centuries of battles fought throughout France’s naval history. The castle along with most of the town was bombed during WWII but was totally rebuilt.

The castle was now the home of the National Maritime Museum. Since Brest was the European capital of marine science and technology, this museum celebrated Brest’s long maritime tradition.

We strolled around the outside of the castle but did not go in.

Castle Chateau.jpg

Castle Chateau - Things To Do In Brest France.jpg

The clouds started to form so we headed back to the shuttle bus stop. We saw yet more boats of all kinds at dock. There was also a large number of restaurants along this strip. And of course, there was lots of fresh seafood to be had!

There was one more tribute to Brest’s maritime role in town. Oceanopolis was a small aquarium at the other end of town. A taxi from the Brest Harbour could take us there if we wanted to visit.

We Found A Few Things To Do In Brest

As we enjoyed our cruise along the north coast of France, we took some tours and other days just explored the local towns. We had a very busy day when we visited Mont St Michel the day before. So when we landed in Brest, we decided to just stroll around the town and explored a few things to do in Brest.

We got a good flavour of the maritime flavour of this port town. And we saw an interesting collection of modern art.

We heard there were great beaches in the Brest area. But we never saw them as we stayed close to port. It was far too cold for me to swim as we cruised along the coast of Western Europe.

The next day we had a long tour planned to explore a different aspect of northern France. We went to Cognac for cognac tasting!

Did you find a few things to do in Brest? Did you stay in the town or wander far afield?

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About TravelAtWill 633 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

44 Comments

  1. We’ve been in France so many times before yet never heard of Brest. That’s probably because we never took a cruise along the north coast of France. Being a commercial port makes Brest less appealing from a tourist stand point, but from all I see you managed to find a few interesting things to do there. Like visiting the Tanguy Tower, or the castle of Brest.

  2. I have not even heard of Brest and had no idea there’s a city with that name in France. The church is Brest looks really nice, I’d love to explore. Its an interesting itinerary if I someday land up in this city which will most likely be a port city on a cruise I take!

  3. Ever since I’ve read Genet’s Querelle I wanted to see Brest. Although it’s totally under the tourists’ radar, there is a lot to see. However, it seems to be a bit less charming than other French cities. That’s the destiny of cities with large industrial harbors, I believe. Nevertheless, you’ve put Brest back on my bucket list 😀

  4. The Tanguy tower looks interesting and different. Brest looks like a beautiful place. Unfortunately I had never heard of it before. I do have France on my list and I do hope to visit it to travel for a longer period of time. I will make sure I add Brest to my list. I also want to see the Castle.

  5. I have not explored much of France yet. Brest looks like a busy commercial port, but it is interesting there are some touristy stuff here. I like the unusual modern art on the stained glass of the church, The L’Arbor Empathique looks interesting and Maritime Museums are always nice to visit. 🙂

  6. Brest didn’t look very enticing in your first photos of an industrial port environment. So glad you perservered to check out the town itself and what it had to offer. And it looks like that had a good payoff. Loved the modern take on stained glass windows at the church you visited, as well as the historic castle that had been destroyed and rebuilt. Too bad you didn’t get to see the beaches!

  7. Oh, the tanker buildings and commercial ships look mysterious and cool. I wonder what history they hold. I didn’t know about this marine side and military port of France until this post. It’s an interesting read!

  8. Brest doesn’t look at all like the pretty French towns that are scattered around the country but then a lot of port cities are lacking in aesthetics. For me the stained glass windows and the castle would have made up for that and of course some French cuisine and wine!!

  9. I hadn’t even heard of Brest so far. I’ve always taken Calais or Dunkirk ports and never did a trip around France by sea, so I haven’t even heard of this port! Thanks for introducing it to me. St.Louis Church is intriguing – a newer church atop the older church. The stained glass windows are very interesting.

  10. I loved Mont St Michel years ago. Brest seems like it’s definitely worth checking out. Seems to have lovely streets and views. Will have to check it out!

  11. Brest looks lovely & I agree – the stained glass & internal decor of the church are really unusual. I also would have enjoyed a trip on the cable car – looked like a fun way to cross the river. Very interesting place to visit.

  12. The northern part of France is cold not only in terms of climate but also visually and, compared to the romantic southern, it looks plainer and even a bit boring. It is understandable – long chilly rainy days make their impact on everything. However, the distinctive Brittany cultural region and the city of Brest have an unchanging authentic atmosphere that is worth feeling.

  13. I like the idea of walking around to explore. Brest looks a nice city to do that without a rush. The castle and the view of the Tanguy Tower across the river look such nice spots. Hopefully some day would travel to Brest, possibly like you on a cruise.

    • Most of the cruise excursions went inland in France and there was more wine tasting excursions. One tour took people around Brest. But we were ok to do it on our own.

  14. I will be honest here. I might be wrong but I don’t find Brest too appealing. Not Something I would like to explore. Maybe it has to do with my not-so-nice experience in the France last time.

  15. Frankly, I have not even heard of Brest despite visiting the country over 15 times. I had absolutely no idea a city exists with that name in France. The church is Brest looks really nice, I’d love to explore the city at a slow pace. So, maybe not on a cruise holiday.

  16. We’ve never done a cruise but the idea of stopping someplace and being greeted with ugly ports doesn’t sound appealing! Glad you got to see the Brest castle though! Love that there are castles always popping up when you least expect them in France.

    • Ugly port towns are something that we don’t like either. Great when it is easy to walk to town or when there is a bus to the city centre. Then you can avoid the port. We were glad we went into town and found some interesting spots.

  17. Brest really looks like an odd mix of modern, military and medieval. It sounds like leisurely wandering the town in between other busy days was perfect. I like the perspective of viewing the city from the cable car, which would give you a good bearing of the area.

  18. It is always interesting to me when you visit a modern city mixed into an old world! For example, when we went to Colombia, all the cities along the coast felt old, until we hit Barranquilla which was like visiting Houston, Texas or something!! So it seems like Brest is very much like that from your descriptions and pictures. From the start of the business tankers at the port to the modern Stained Glass Windows in L’Eglise Saint Louis de Brest it all seems so modern and Nouveau! (A little french there for you!) But I like all the adventures you found in Brest & I like how Oceania mixed it up for your cruise experience.

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