More about BREST - LORIENT

Naval base and industrial port in the département of Finistère, situated on two hills separated by the River Penfeld at Rade de Brest (Brest Roads), a large bay whose only entrance is a narrow channel, at the western extremity of Brittany in northwest France; population (2004) 298,300.
The town has a naval academy, several schools of nautical science, a university and an oceanographic research centre; it is also the headquarters of the French naval and oceanographic service.
Industries include electronics, shipbuilding and naval supplies, and the manufacture of clothing, chemicals, and paper.

Occupied as a U-boat base by the Germans from 1940 to 1944, part of the old city was destroyed by Allied bombing and the retreating Germans.

History

The town of Brest is built on a Roman site on the slopes of two hills intersected by the river.
It has two harbors, one for naval and one for mercantile shipping, and is one of the three major naval headquarters of France.
It grew and prospered after Cardinal Richelieu founded a naval base in 1631 and developed the harbor.
The town was fortified by the military engineer Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban in the 1680s.

Historically Brest was often a point of dispute between France and England, with several naval engagements between the two countries taking place off Brest during the 17th and 18th centuries.
It was under English rule twice before the incorporation of Brittany with France in 1532.

In World War I Brest was a supply base for US forces. During World War II the Germans established one of their Atlantic submarine bases here and used it as a harbor for the battleships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen, as well as U-boats.