Visiting Brest - What to See and Do

(Brest Bretagne Airport BES, France)

Noted for its remarkably long maritime history, not to mention a host of splendid historical sites, Brest has become one of Brittany's most adored cities. France's second-largest military port is found on the seafront of Brest. However, this is only a part of the city's many maritime landmarks.

Travellers can reach this picturesque city through its domestic airport, as flights to this city originate from international destinations like London, Birmingham, Southampton and Barcelona. The city isn't overly large, and so tourists can see the attractions of Brest in two or three days.

The castle is the most treasured site in the city, although there are several other landmarks that are must-sees. Tourists can spend an afternoon strolling through the greenery of Vallon du Stang Alar, or go sightseeing along the magnificent St. Malo Street. Considering that the centre of Brest had to be completely rebuilt following WWII, this fascinating destination is impressive to say the least.

Ten things you must do in Brest

  • Brest Castle is a breathtaking fortification overlooking the mouth of the Penfeld River. Boasting a history of more than 1,700 years, the Chateau de Brest is the longest-surviving castle on the planet. Encompassing other attractions like Vauban's Citadel and the Tour Cesar, this castle makes no apologies for its vast space and stern design. Tourists will be captivated by the site.
  • The National Navy Museum is housed within the halls of Brest Castle. Even though it is just one of several branches sprouting from the National Maritime Museum of Paris, this attraction hosts an array of intriguing collections worth checking out. Much of the city's maritime history is on display in the museum's exhibits.
  • One of the oldest sites in the city is the Tour Tangur. It is basically a medieval tower that now hosts a local museum. Exhibits and dioramas of Brest's older history are on show within the tower museum. The Tour Tangur is very easy to spot, located just across the Penfeld River from the city's fortress.
  • The Pont de Recouvrance may not match the antiquity of the city's castle, but it does radiate a stature of significance that tourists should experience. This was once the largest vertical lift bridge in Europe, and replaced the historic Pont National after the Nazis heavily bombed it during WWII.
  • The Rue de Siam has traditionally been the centre of Brest's café and restaurant scene. Today, tourists can still walk down this historic street when sightseeing in the city to enjoy a coffee, lunch or dinner. Shopping in one of the high-end stores is another popular way to enjoy this strip, which connects central Brest with the Pont de Recouvrance.
  • Although not renowned for its religious structures, Brest does provide tourists with several church options. St. Louis Church is the most visited religious structure in the city, and locals and newcomers flock to the site for its unique stained glass windows and modernist design. It was rebuilt in 1958 after the original building was demolished during WWII.
  • Children and adults alike will love the city's large ocean aquarium, named the Oceanopolis. A huge range of marine species are housed within this attraction, including an impressive penguin den. Many of the animals found within the aquarium are local marine species that usually reside within the surrounding maritime area of France.
  • The Rue Saint Malo is where tourists can go to embrace Old Brest. Museums and castles are not found along this road. Instead, visitors will find dozens of 17th-century terraced houses still bursting with life. Along with the famous fountain resting at one end of the road, the Rue Saint Malo enchants sightseers with its traditional ambience.
  • Even though the local botanical garden is found within the grounds of a teaching hospital, visitors are still encouraged to explore it. Created in 1688, the garden was almost completely ruined during the Second World War. However, much of the park has been fully replanted and refurbished. Of note, the site is only open to the public on weekends.
  • Brest is home to the National Botanical Conservatory, which is one of France's most famous botanical gardens. It is largely designed to preserve endangered floral species, but is open to the public. There are numerous greenhouses operating here, providing a range of environments for visitors to explore.

Brest Airport BES

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