It is said of Brest that it is "the city with 5 ports", but in truth, it counts many more.
First, it is a military port, that has seen generations of sailors trained, go on missions and relax here. The signs of the "Royal" are visible everywhere around the city, from the Castle to the Navy Museum through the banks of the Penfeld and the Capucins. On the other side of the road, a strategic port, even more secret and confidential, is home to the submarine fleet which is the nuclear deterrent force of France.
It is also a port of adventurers: it is from Brest that the expedition of La Fayette left to assist the American "Patriots" in their war of independence against England, as it is from Brest that La Perugia sailed with the hope of completing Jim Cook's discoveries. Explorers and naturalists from the past have brought exotic and rare plants from their travels, some of which have been saved from extinction and can still be admired today at the Stang Alar National Botanical Conservatory. In line with these inventors of species and varieties, Brest has also become a leading scientific port in the field of oceanography and the study of the marine environment as the general public can discover by visiting Océanopolis, the ocean discovery center.
Another adventurer that attended the Naval Academy, Eric Tabarly was the first of the great French champions of the modern sailing race. A tutelary figure in this domain, he inspired the vocation of those who made Brest a Port of Records, with more than 25 solo or team exploits whose memory is engraved in so many bronze plates on the Promenade des Records and in the memories of the people of Brest. This legacy remains active today and will be perpetuated on November 29, 2019, with the start of the first race around the world dedicated to the greatest multihulls, the Ultims, in Brest. Tomorrow’s sailors are trained at the Moulin Blanc nautical center and, for future champions, by the Pôle Espoir and the Sailing France Pole specialized in Olympic sailing. The historic marina of Brest, the Moulin Blanc also welcomes all sea lovers that simply want to enjoy this accessible body of water. With 1,450 boat slips, it was extended in 2009 with the completion of the Marina du Château, for a total of 2,200 slips, including 250 reserved for passing boaters.
Between the two sites extends the commercial port, that encompasses several activities: site of the future activities related to Renewable Marine Energies, ship repair, traditional freight activities, but also port of call for cruise ships.
It is extended by the fishing port where returning trawlers land the day’s catch and sell their fresh production at the auction. Just like the fishing ports of Camaret or Conquet, there are also the boats that bring passengers to the islands of Molène and Ouessant. Opposite, Quai Malbert, we can admire two of the most famous boats in the region: the sea-going tug Abeille Bourbon and the schooner La Recouvrance.
The first is the "St. Bernard of the Seas" that can be visited when the weather is mild, but as soon as the sea gets rough, she will be posted on alert near the rail of Ouessant to help ships in distress.
The second is a reconstruction of an old schooner, pride of the inhabitants and ambassador of the city at the giant gatherings that take place here every 4 years. In 2016, the maritime festivals attracted 715,000 visitors in 6 days, to admire the sailing ships among the largest in the world, traditional boats from around the world, 9,000 sailors, 3,000 musicians, water parades, fireworks and the grand parade between Brest and Douarnenez that gathers thousands of boats.
Next stop: July 10-16, 2020 for the 8th edition.