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Discover the joys of Breton life on a cruise to Brest, a scenic port city located on the Western tip of France’s famed Brittany region. Spend your day visiting medieval landmarks, like a 13th-century castle. Stroll along the city center’s cobblestone streets. Get a bird’s-eye view of the harbor while aboard an urban cable car. Dine on a freshly made crepe, one of the region’s most beloved food staple. Explore the beguiling region of Brittany on a cruise to France with Celebrity Cruises.
Step inside the towering Chåteau de Brest, a fortress that formerly belonged to King Richard II of England, located on the Penfeld River. This 13th-century castle is the city’s oldest standing landmark. Aside from being an essential part of history, the Chåteau de Brest is also the home of the city’s popular Navy Museum.
Marvel at the medieval architecture of Tanguy Tower, a 14-century building whose exact origins remain unknown. Inside the tower, you’ll find the Museum of Old Brest, which highlights the town’s storied history in exhibits that include documents, artifacts, and a series of photographs that showcase what Brest looked like before the devastating WWII bombings wiped out most of the city’s infrastructure.
Animal lovers can’t miss a stop at Océanopolis, known as the largest open-air aquarium in Europe. Océanopolis is divided into three pavilions that are focused on polar, temperate, and tropical marine animals. Explore over 50 aquariums, shark tanks, penguin habitats, and interactive exhibitions, where you’ll be able to see and mingle with marine animals up close.
Learn all about Brest’s impressive naval history at the Musée de la Marine, a comprehensive marine museum located inside the Chåteau de Brest. Admire model replica ships of former French fleets, marine-themed paintings, historic artifacts, and 18th-century sculptures. You’ll also have a chance to look inside this 17th-century fortification that includes foundations that can be traced back to the Roman Empire era.
Enjoy some downtime at the largest indoor public square in Europe. Squeeze in some shopping at its stores, stop by the beer garden, or sip an espresso at one of the cafes. There’s also a skating rink and rock climbing wall, which is perfect for families traveling with children.
Hop aboard Brest’s Téléphérique, the first urban cable car in France, which will take you across the Penfeld River. Board the cable car at the river bank by the city’s center and soar above the river while soaking in a unique, 360-degree view of this picturesque seaside port.
Since Brest is a port city, you can expect plenty of fresh seafood and fish options on local menus. For lunch, enjoy the local moules frites, which are mussels served with a side of French fries, or order a dish of the fresh oysters of the day. To accompany your meal, try a glass of Muscadet wine, a light-bodied white from the region. And don’t forget to indulge in one of Brittany’s most famous food exports, the crepe. Order one made with lemon and sugar for dessert, or a classic savory option, like the Breton galette, which comes with ham, cheese, and a fried egg.
The history of Brest begins in 1240, when the Lord of Léon ceded the territory to John I, Duke of Brittany. In 1342, Jon IV surrendered Brest to the English, who occupied it until 1397. It later made its way into the hands of France and, in 1631, a major naval base was built. Brest was used as an important debarkation point for American forces during World War I. In the subsequent Second World War, the city was bombed and almost completely devastated, but was later rebuilt to its former glory. To this day, it continues to be one of France’s largest naval bases.
The Brest cruise port is located in the city’s natural harbor. Once you reach the cruise terminal, there’s a shuttle bus that can drop you off at the city center, which is located only a mile away. Most of the city’s attractions are within walking distance, including the Château de Brest, the Tanguy Tower, and Océanopolis.
Most of the sights and landmarks in Brest are easily accessible on foot. You can also use the city’s public bus and tram system, called BIBUS. There are also taxis available throughout the city, but keep in mind that many of the drivers do not speak English.
For high street shopping, your best bet is to head to the Rue Jean-Jaurès, where you’ll find a mix of both popular and luxury brands and shops. If you’re searching for souvenirs to remember your cruise to Brest, try Roi de Bretagne, Brest’s famous department store, where you can find many local items such as handmade soaps, canned sardines, regional wines, and more.
The local currency in Brest is the euro. Credit cards are widely accepted in major stores and restaurants, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially if you plan on shopping in local markets and small boutiques. ATMs are easily found throughout the city. Tipping is not as common in France as it is in the United States, but if you experienced excellent service, feel free to leave a few extra euros as a thank you.