Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

Which Brest do you like? At once port city, commercial harbour, military base and historic site, here are our best addresses to discover the Finistère metropolis, under the invigorating ocean breeze.

Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

And I passed you in the rue de Siam

Uncontrollable excitement. Seeing the ocean, sailing the roadstead of Brest, walking down the rue de Siam known by sailors all over the world, wearing a reefer jacket because of the oceanic climate. Drinking nights (as sung by Miossec in his song Brest) wandering in the steps of Jack Kerouac – who came for a lovely getaway in 1965 – while humming a poem by Jacques Prévert: Remember Barbara / It was raining ceaselessly on Brest...
From the place de la Liberté facing the square Mathon (named after the urban planner and architect who almost entirely rebuilt the city after the Second World War), the rue de Siam, former rue Saint-Pierre drawn by Vauban, now opens onto high-end boutiques.

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

All sorts of nights

If you choose to set up home in Brest, the Vauban Hotel exerts charms of yesteryears, close to the train station and 100 feet from the place de la Liberté. You are sure to find what you're looking for in one of the 53 rooms, renovated in 2009. For lunch of dinner in the hotel's restaurant, you will try local French specialities such as garlicky leg of lamb round steak, or the fresh seafood platter. If you feel like staying up late, the hotel offers its own concert hall in the basement.

Hôtel Vauban
17, avenue Georges Clemenceau
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 46 06 88
www.hotelvauban.fr
Rooms: from 59 EUR

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

From chic to rock

Luggage-free, you'll drift towards the commercial port through the very chic and tree-filled cours Dajot neighbourhood, down to the quai de la Douane. Every Thursday in summer, the port livens up to the sounds of rock concerts (from the docks to the Académie gardens and the parc à Chaînes).

Cours Dajot
29200 Brest

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

Rock in hand

When it is time for your stomach to claim its rights, head over to the 8, quai de la Douane. There, you'll find the renowned Crabe Marteau restaurant, offering the catch of the day, newspaper-made tablecloths and 2-pound Brown crabs – poor animals that you'll confront with the energy of Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk, armed with a hammer (not a sword) to break the pincers. Delicious!

Le Crabe Marteau
8, quai de la Douane
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 33 38 57
www.crabemarteau.fr

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

Sea legends in a fortress

As the seagulls fly, the Château de Brest is nearby. As Joseph Mallord William Turner pictured it in the 19th century (in The Harbour of Brest: The Quayside and Château), not quite so. Whatever. Located on the delta of the Penfeld River, this military fortress cuts a fine figure and shelters the National Navy Museum, essential to understand Brest and the roadstead.
The collection of wooden figureheads will give you a big smiley face reminiscent of Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate, and makes you want to climb up the sails. The whole maritime, civil and military life of the far-western city is unveiled. Afterwards, you'll face the oceans like Robert Mitchum in The Enemy Below.

Musée national de la Marine
Château de Brest
Boulevard de la Marine
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 22 12 39
www.musee-marine.fr/brest

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

The marina

If you feel more in tune with yachting than cargo-shipping, don't worry: just head to another cove. The Moulin-Blanc unfolds a beach, a marina, bars and restaurants. In the very spacious Tour du Monde – founded in 1993 by famous sailor champion Olivier de Kersauson – you'll look for your own Jane Russell's Venus (in Underwater!) until 1:00 a.m. and in all weathers, especially during the weekend when the nightclub atmosphere is on. Mussels and chips are mandatory, and the price is moderate.

Bar Le Tour du Monde
Moulin Blanc Marina
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 41 93 65
www.tourdum.fr

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

Sea fauna

Still in the Moulin-Blanc cove, you'll be taken by the ocean and immersed in The Silent World. 68 fish tanks and pools await you in Océanopolis, a great marine centre unique in Europe, where you'll be able to admire blacktip reef sharks and try and unravel the mystery of the abysses.

Océanopolis
Moulin Blanc Marina
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 34 40 40
www.oceanopolis.com

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Tonnerre de Brest: our best addresses in the far western city

Brest of yesteryears

To have a better idea of the Brest of yesteryears and overlook the entire city, use the cable car that links both banks of the Penfeld River, between the Siam and Capucins neighbourhoods. In the latter, which is in complete renewal, you will find a multimedia library, a cinema theatre, a large mall and an international housing project, giving onto one of the oldest streets in Brest amidst the popular and historic Recouvrance district: the rue Saint-Malo. For those who love to wander about, it offers a lovely urban heritage, dating back to Louis XIV and the Age of Enlightenment: the Tour Tanguy, the Explorateurs garden, the la Fontaine house or the Saint-Sauveur church. This is where the spirit of the old town and the men that slaved at sea can be found.

Tour Tanguy Museum
Square Pierre Péron
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 00 84 60

Explorateurs garden
3, rue de la Pointe
29200 Brest

La Fontaine house
18, rue de l'Église
29200 Brest
+33 (0)2 98 00 82 48