Follow our recommendations for the top 10 things to do in Brest and make the most of your stay in one of Finistère’s most beautiful cities...
Welcome to the Western City! Other than being the second largest conurbation in Brittany (after Rennes), Brest is also home to France’s second largest military port. It’s hard to get bored in this dynamic student city! Here are our top 10 things for newcomers to do in Brest!
1 – Stroll down rue de Saint-Malo
Brest suffered heavily from World War II bombing, so most of the historic centre had to be entirely rebuilt. Luckily rue de Saint-Malo was spared. So you will be able to stroll down one of the few parts of “authentic” historic Brest, and experience a completely different atmosphere.
2 – Discover the National Maritime Museum
The world’s oldest maritime museum is located in Brest! Inaugurated in 1748, the National Maritime Museum in Brest has an exceptional collection, allowing visitors to learn all about great expeditions, such as those of Lapérouse, and to discover a unique heritage. This museum is located inside the castle of Brest, which you can also visit on your own or with a guide!
3 – Take the cable car
At the end of 2016, the city saw the inauguration of the first French urban cable car, which now forms part of Brest’s public transport system! Connecting both riverbanks of the Penfeld (historic and military centre of the city), this eco-friendly means of transport also affords lovely views of Brest!
4 – Take a boat to the islands
Brest is located on the far west of Brittany, at the end of Finistère. It’s a departure point for the islands of Molène and Ouessant; locals themselves take advantage of this ideal location to venture into nature whenever they can! Wellness, serenity and tranquillity await you just across the bay of Brest... a two-hour boat ride to heaven!
5 – Visit the Océanopolis aquarium
Océanopolis takes you on a journey through earth’s oceans and ecosystems. You’ll visit three climate areas: polar, tropical and temperate zones allowing you to discover incredible marine biodiversity.
The superb panoramic lift down into the shark pool is outstanding! L’Abyssbox is another first-class experience. This world first lets visitors observe real animals from the depths of the ocean (they normally swim between 1,800 and 2,000 metres deep!). Abyssbox technology allows them to live as if they were in their natural environment.
Océanopolis, Port de Plaisance du Moulin Blanc, Brest
6 – Escape on a beautiful yacht
The Loch Monna yacht dates back to 1956, and can be admired in the harbour. She sails the Roadstead of Brest and you can join the crew by contacting her friendly captain, Yann. The atmosphere is friendly, the landscapes spectacular... And the boat, simply superb! It’s no coincidence that she’s been taking part in the annual International Maritime festivities since 2012!
Yann, the boat captain, can be reached on: +33 (0)6 22 22 58 85
7 – Enjoy a good meal
The best gourmet locations in Brest are a closely guarded secret, but here are three of our favourites:
Le Crabe Marteau (Hammer Crab) is a Brest institution and should not be missed. As the name suggests, you have to break the crab’s shell with a hammer to eat it. It is accompanied by organic potatoes and several tasty sauces. It’s a lovely spot serving fresh produce – the crabs are delivered straight to the restaurant from the Iroise sea every night!
Le Crabe Marteau, 8 Quai de la Douane, Brest
You must taste Breton pancakes before you go! The Blé Noir crêperie is located in the heart of Vallon du Stang-Alar, the green lung of Brest! In addition to enjoying natural surroundings (the botanical gardens) and the delicious pancakes, you can also try out the other regional culinary speciality: Kig ha farz, or Breton stew!
Crêperie Blé Noir, le Vallon du Stang Alar, Brest
For a change of scenery, head for the vintage Beaj Kafethat canteen with an unbeatable atmosphere. This coffee shop, which also serves as a place to work, serves a variety of coffees, chocolates and teas from around the world. You can relax on the sofas, enjoy the Wi-Fi, use the photocopier, read newspapers... it’s just great!
Beaj Kafe, 51 rue Branda, Brest
8 – Have a look at the urban murals
In 2000, a program to spruce up the Quatre Moulins neighbourhood was implemented, allowing the walls to “speak”. A group of artists from Lyon was allowed to let their creativity flow, transforming the right bank of Brest with the creation of a unique collection of murals. We love urban art that beautifies the city and enlivens a walk.
Most of the murals are found in rue Anatole France
9 – Have a drink at the castle marina
You can’t get much better than a drink on one of the marinas to fully enjoy a port city. The castle marina gives you a clear view of the 625 moorings and brings together the major points of interest, such as Océanopolis, the cinema and even Le Musée de la Tour Tanguy. End the day beautifully and simply, admiring the sunset in one of the many bars.
10 – Try an unusual location: le Fifty-Fifty
This multi-faceted location offers visitors a tea salon and a restaurant, alongside a furniture and interior design shop! If you fall in love with the small armchairs, you can simply buy them. This is one of the city’s best curated vintage traders. And naturally, the pastries and set menus are homemade... it’s a great place!
Fifty-Fifty, rue Boussingault, Brest. Remember to book your table for lunch.