Brest is grey, Brest is sad, Brest is Ugly. These are all the things I have heard since I am a child. I was born and raised in Brest, Brittany, France. Of course, Brest might not seem to be the most attractive destination in France but I will give you some reasons to come and visit it. But first, let’s start with a bit of history to understand the city. As a harbour, it was a very important location during the war. Indeed Brest is the most western city of France, facing the United States. So, unfortunately, it was destroyed during the Second World War by the German and had to be rebuilt very quickly that explains the grey atmosphere of the city.
Its landscape, Its weather
The first thing that you should know about Brest is that it has the reputation for being a rainy city. Indeed it is a really wet city but if you compare to other cities in the South, the percentage of rain over a year is less. Moreover, the temperature rarely goes over 30degres during summer time. This weather is the reason why the landscape is so green and flourished. You can compare it to the Irish landscape. The sky is often grey but there is nothing better than the reflection of a grey sky on the sea which makes it blue grey, and as the colour of the sky changes every day, the sea has a different colour every day! And yes, we also do have tempests sometimes but have you already seen the sea when the wind is blowing? It is something amazing! In addition to that, the weather is wet but we have a saying which says “the Bretons are not made of sugar”. So we are not going to melt if it starts raining.
As it an harbour, there are a lot of marine activities to do like sailing, kayaking or even fishing. But most of all Brest hosts one of the biggest marine culture centres in France called Oceanopolis. It’s a perfect place for all the marine searchers but also for all the families to chill on a Sunday. Oceanopolis is divided into 3 main sections, a Breton section with all the animals you can find in the surrounding seas like seals, seaweeds … But also a tropical section in which you will find different kinds of sharks and a lot of tropical fishes. The third section is the polar section with penguins, arctic seals and a lot of other strange fishes. If you want to disconnect with reality and dive into the marine world in the middle of the city that’s the perfect place to go!
A contrast of ancient and modernity
In contrast with its old buildings, Brest is a very innovative city. Indeed, Brest has different old buildings like the Castle which has been built more than 17centurys ago and which has been classified historical monument since 1923! And this is what is fascinating about the city, the contrast. At the end of 2016, Brest became the first French city with an urban cable car. This was created in order to connect the two parts of the city called left bank and right bank. Because the city is separated by a river called Penfeld River. And more particularly to connect a new neighbourhood called “Les capuchins” on the right bank. But this was not the first modern improvement made by the city. In fact, in 2012, Brest had re-created a tram line (that had already existed before 1944 and was destroyed because of the second world war), to decrease the circulation into the city centre. All along the line, you can see different urban arts among which one of them was elected the ugliest public building in France!
Modernity has also been brought to Brest thanks to Sport. Indeed, when a team becomes better and better you have to provide it with the right infrastructure. That’s why they created l’Arena, a huge sports complex which is also used for concerts. It has the shape of a basketball’s filet. For now, it is mainly used for our Handball team: the Brest Bretagne Handball which performs in the France First league. The team is composed of a lot of international players such as Alison Pineau (France), Melinda Geiger (Roumania), Cleopatre Darleux (France), Marta Mangué (Spain). But Brest also shines in soccer, in the second major league called Ligue 2, where the Stade Brestois is in the top rank of the Ligue.
A Cultural city
Speaking of culture, it has a big impact on the city mainly about Art, Music and Movie. Indeed, while you are walking around the city, you can find a lot of street arts including mural paintings. One of them was made by the most popular artist in Brest: Paul Bloas. Otherwise, If you ask about music to Brest people, the first answer you going to get is Astropolis. It is a huge electro festival happening twice a year in Brest (in January and in July), it is even known all over the France. But if you want to listen to world music you can go to “Le bout du monde” in Crozon which is about 30minutes drive from Brest. It happens in August. Or for Celtic music, you can go to Lorient for “The Interceltic festival”. The last cultural aspect which has a big impact in Brest is the world of the cinema. Indeed, every year in November Brest hosts the “European Short Film Festival” which gathers a selection of European short films at “Le Quartz” our theatre.
In Brittany, we have a cuisine very rich, we cook with a lot of Butter. We are mostly known for our crepe, a very thin pastry made of flour. The most famous crepe is made of ham, cheese with on top a fried egg. But you can add any ingredient on your crepe. Crepes are usually eaten with a glass of cider which is also some typical from Brittany. We also have something similar to crepes but a bit thicker called galette. If you are more into sweet things I recommend to taste the” Kouign Amann” which means in Breton butter cake. It is made of bread dough mixed with butter and sugar! And if you just want a small snack you can also have our famous Palet Breton, also mostly composed of butter or our salted caramel sweets.
If with these arguments you think it’s not enough, you can just come for the people! Brest is populated by students and foreign students, thanks to the Erasmus program for the European students, which makes it very diversify and attractive. And as being part of the Celtic culture, we also have the reputation for drinking a lot so there are a lot of bars in the city so if you want to meet the locals you know where to go ;). Otherwise, you can just come and enjoy the beauty of the landscape, you won’t be disappointed!