Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Brest (population of the city: 146,000 inhabitants as of 2004 estimates; population of the metropolitan area: 303,484 inhabitants as of 1999 census) is a city in the Bretagne région, north-west France, subprefecture of the Finistère département. Located on the western tip of the Brittany peninsula, the city is an important port and naval base.
Due to its location, Brest is regarded as the first French port that can be accessed from the Americas, and hence shipping is big business, although Nantes and St. Nazaire offer much larger docks and attract more of the larger vessels.
Brest is a cool little town in a dramatic landscape. It is located at the bottom of a natural bay, at the west end of the Britanny peninsula. Its protected location means that it is ideal to receive any type of ship, from the smallest dinghy to the biggest airplane carrier (the USS Nimitz has visited a few times). Its location also means it is at the heart of one of the most culturally rich regions of France, Brittany, and the local people are extremely proud of this. Breton is spoken here, albeit not an official language. Every occasion to mix cultural and maritime heritage is a good excuse for a party. The best of those happens every four years, when the town organises a tall ship meeting.
Le Musee de la Tour Tanguy houses a collection of dioramas that depict what the state of the city of Brest was on the eve of WWII. The Musee de la Marine de Brest contains exhibits which outline Brest's maritime tradition.
The town of Brest itself is not very attractive, apart from a few select monuments such as the Castle and the Tour Tanguy. This is due to the British and American pilots who bombed the town during World War II, in an attempt to destroy the submarine base the Germans had built in the harbour. The town was hastily rebuilt in the 1950s using a large amount of concrete.
A few kilometres out of town, there are more impressive landscapes, from sandy beaches to tall granite cliffs. Sunbathing, windsurfing, yachting and fishing are practised in the area. However, even in the middle of summer, Brittany can be stormy, due to its location in the far northwest of France.
- 1959-1973 : Georges Lombard
- 1973-1977 : Eugène Berest
- 1977-1982 : Francis Le Blé
- 1982-1983 : Pierre Maille
- 1983-1985 : Jacques Berthelot
- 1985-1989 : Georges Kerbrat
- 1989-2001 : Pierre Maille again
- 2001- : François Cuillandre
Food in Brest
If you like fish and seafood, this is the place for you. Any restaurant will have fresh fish on the menu and you can even find a few fish only restaurants. Any market or supermarket will have an extensive fish and seafood offer if you want to cook yourself. On the other hand, if you'd rather see live fish in their environment rather than eating it, head for the Océanopolis marine centre and don't forget to bring the kids.
Back on the food front, you cannot leave Brittany before having sampled the most famous local delicacy, the Breton crepe. You will find crêpe restaurants (called "crêperies") all over the place. and make sure you eat them with real farmhouse Breton cider.
Finally, if you want to bring back home some local delicacies, head for the biscuit section. Favourites include Traou Mad which are similar in a way to Scottish shortbreads. But beware, Breton biscuits are made from real full fat butter so, if you are on a diet, you might be better off buying chocolates.
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