Brest, France

Brest, France Cruise Port

  • ship excursions are listed at bottom of this entry

(From Brest Tourist office):

Budding historians, welcome to Brest! This is a city in which time has done its work well, and every neighborhood bears the distinctive marks of its own history. From the work of Vauban to the destruction of World War II,  every aspect of the city’s architecture can trace its roots back to historic events. Monuments, military heritage buildings, and museums are each a testament to the past, offering an opportunity to take a fascinating journey through the events that have made Brest what it is.

In a city so strongly marked by the past, history is on display at every street corner. A simple stroll through the city center is, therefore, enough to take you inside Brest’s history. Start by stepping inside the city’s oldest monument – the castle. Seventeen centuries old, it houses the National Maritime Museum, where the full military history of the city is laid out. Once you’ve crossed the Pont de Recouvrance, which was inaugurated in 1954, a visit to the Tour Tanguy Museum will use scale models and dioramas to immerse you in history. Nearby, you’ll find the Arsenal – one of the city’s symbols – created by Richelieu in 1631. The Bagne (prison) is the work of Choquet de Lindu. Intricately linked with the history of Brest, it was demolished not long after the end of World War II. Indeed, World War II played a huge role in the history of Brest. The city was liberated in 1944, after months of devastating bombing.

A look at rue de Siam and its surroundings provides a good general idea of this period. These spacious neighborhoods, which open onto Penfeld, represent the pinnacle of the city’s reconstruction between 1946 and 1961. Rue Pasteur, for example, was raised by around twenty meters at that time!

The Sadi-Carnot shelter, which was dug out between 1941 and 1942 between rue Emile-Zola and the Porte Tourville, stands alone as a powerful symbol of the mark left here by World War II. The character of the city and its inhabitants was forged out of this very courage – this strength in the face of adversity.

Military and port development, uninterrupted over several centuries, has resulted in a maritime center of excellence whose reputation extends well beyond French frontiers, enhanced by infrastructures to match its exceptional natural environment. The creation of the Communauté Urbaine de Brest in 1974 (now Brest Métropole Océane) allowed further development of the resources of a region that was now inseparable from the sea and its economy.

Other resources:

Brest, France is located along one of the most beautiful natural harbors found in France and the rest of the region. The Pont de L’Iroise Bridge crosses over the River Elorn leaving a picturesque view. There are many beautiful historic buildings that can be found in the area where traces of the Golden Age can still be found. The city was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but has been completely restored and some of the old buildings were saved. Brest today is filled with many unique museums, botanical gardens, aquariums and parks offering its visitors many interesting things to discover. Below, we have listed a few of our favorite things to do while cruising to Brest, France:
  • Explore Oceanopolis, an outstanding aquarium made up of three different regions that showcase tropical, temperate and polar flora and fauna.
  • Learn about the history and naval subjects at the National Navy Museum, Musée National de la Marine

    The Chateau de Brest is home to one of five French maritime museums. After World War II, the castle at Brest was the only remaining substantial building left standing so the French navy took over the building to use as their naval college. Today, visitors can tour the museum and explore almost 17 centuries worth of French naval history. Admission to the museum is 6 Euros and it includes a free audio guide to explain the different exhibits. The audio guides are available in French, English, Spanish, German, and Italian.

    City Walls

    Since the Roman Empire stretched to include France, Brest has been a fortified city. The walls lasted through the 16th century when the entire town was still enclosed. Toward the end of the 16th century in order to keep up with advancing artillery technology, the walls and the castle were re-fortified to better defend the city. During World War II however, much of the walls were destroyed. Visitors today can still see sections of the walls that are facing the ports and the castle itself. Visitors can walk beside the city walls from just outside the railway station, through the front of the harbor, and finish the walk at the gardens which belong to the Naval College at the Chateau.

  • Shop along the Roi de Bretagne full of fabulous specialty boutiques for modern as well as antique for perfect souvenirs from your cruise to from Brest, France.
  • View the Jardin du Conservatoire Botanique National de Brest and see some unique plants featured. Enjoy some fresh crepes along the way!

    Brest For Cruise Passengers

    Cruise ships dock close to the city center, making it possible for passengers to walk to many of the city’s attractions. It might be worth noting, however, that much of Brest is hilly.

    Quimper:  (from Donna- Quimper seems to be the most highly rated day trip from Brest)


  • Port to Quimper – 71 KM, 55 minutesQuimper is a historic town with a strong Breton style.  Where Brest has long been swayed by non-Breton influences due to its military importance, Quimper has retained more of the original culture of Brittany.  Named because of its position at the confluence of two rivers, the town is mapped out with narrow streets, footbridges and half-timbered houses dating back centuries.  Its most famous landmark is the gothic St-Corentin Cathedral, begun in the 13th century and not completed until the 19th.  Several churches that are even older are worth a visit.  Quimper is also famous for its ceramics, especially Faience pottery.  The Bishop’s Palace now houses the Brittany Museum which contains the most important artifacts from the region.Brest highlights:
    • At the “La Passerelle” Art Centreyou will find a wide range of contemporary art on exhibition.
    • Rue de Saint-Malo is unique: It is a street that was not hit by the bombs that destroyed almost every other building in Brest during the Second World War. Rue de Saint-Malo is situated close to the Penfeld River, which splits Brest into two parts.
    • The Musée national de la Marine (the Maritime Museum) – situated in the Castle of Brest – promises “17 centuries of eventful history.” The museum puts focus not only on local maritime matters but also on national maritime history. The Castle of Brest is quite naturally a monument in itself. It still plays the role as a military fortress and is thus the oldest castle in the world to be still in use.
    • Just across the river Penfeld, from the Castle of Brest, is the Tanguy Tower. While it remains unclear who actually constructed this medieval fortification, it is believed that it was built during the Breton War of Succession in the mid-14th century. The most probable reason to erect the tower seems to have been the possibility to control crossings between the two banks of the Penfeld River.
    • Situated close to the Castle (on 24 Rue Traverse), the Museum of Fine Arts has a nice collection of European paintings on display.
    • For a different take on the sea, visit the unique Océanopolis marine discovery park. Situated close to the port area, the Océanopolis features more than 10,000 fish and animals from all over the world.

    If you’re interested in photography, the Centre Atlantique de la Photographie is something that you should not miss. The center features exhibitions by contemporary photographers, many of which are based in the surrounding region.

  • Shore Excursions

    A number of shore excursions can be available in and around Brest. Examples include:

    • Tours of the city, by coach or private car. These tours will typically take in the most well-known sights of Brest (see above under Do Not Miss for examples).
    • At Camaret-sur-Mer, visit the Vauban’s Tower, which is also known as the Tower of Camaret. The defensive tower was built in 1696, nowadays mainly serving the purpose as lookout point. Distance from Brest: 42 miles/67.8 kilometers.
    • Concarneau is a charming town that features not only France’s third-largest fishing port for tuna, but also a fish market worthy of a visit. The landscape that you will encounter during the drive to and from Cancarneau is worth experiencing. Distance from Brest: 57 miles/92.2 kilometers.
  • Ship Excursions from NCL

  • Discover Locronan

    Discover Locronan

    Brest, France

    The charming town of Locronan, which once prospered from the manufacturing of sail cloth, is the focus of this half-day tour.

    • ADULT FROM $89.00
    • CHILD FROM $89.00

    DURATION 5 hours


  • Morlaix & Chateau de Kerjean

    Morlaix & Chateau de Kerjean

    Brest, France

    This wonderful tour combines visits to the picturesque town of Morlaix and the classically elegant Château de Kerjean.

    • ADULT FROM $99.00
    • CHILD FROM $99.00

    DURATION 6 hours


  • Panoramic Brest & Mythical Coast

    Panoramic Brest & Mythical Coast

    Brest, France

    Enjoy a relaxing panoramic tour of Brest and then a drive along the Mythical Coast on this relaxing tour.

    • ADULT FROM $85.00
    • CHILD FROM $85.00

    DURATION 5 hours


  • Gardens of Daoulas Abbey & Plougastel Calvary

    Gardens of Daoulas Abbey & Plougastel Calvary

    Brest, France

    Travel from Brest to Daoulas for visits to the Daoulas Abbey & the Plougastel Calvary on this half-day tour that explores outside the environs of Brest.

    • ADULT FROM $79.00
    • CHILD FROM $79.00

    DURATION 4 hours


  • Charming Quimper

    Charming Quimper

    Brest, France

    This excursion offers you the chance to enjoy a leisurely day spent visiting the quaint town of Quimper. Located in a scenic valley at the juncture of the Stei 

    • ADULT FROM $89.00
    • CHILD FROM $89.00

    DURATION 5 hours


%d bloggers like this: