The city of Brest hosts an International Maritime Festival gathering thousands of sailors and ships from all over the world. Beautiful tall ships will dock in the port and regattas, exhibitions, sea shanties, concerts, parades and fireworks are also on the agenda.
One of France’s largest ports, second most important base of the French Navy, Brest will be a not-to-be missed destination for naval enthusiasts during the next summer. From July 13th to 19th, this city located at the far end of Brittany will indeed host one of the world largest maritime festivals. An event commonly known as “Les Tonnerres de Brest” (The Thunders of Brest) that refers to the cannon shot which signalled in the past the opening and closure of the arsenal as well as the escape of a prisoner from the fortress.
[ Practical ]
- By road
590 km from Paris on autoroutes A6, A10, A11, A81 then on N 157, N 136, N12 and D 112
- By train
TGV Paris Montparnasse – Brest. The journey takes 4 h 05 to 4 h 15
- By plane
Daily flights from several French and British cities.
Hôtel Best Western Les Voyageurs
Hôtel de la Corniche
Hôtel Océania Brest Centre
Hôtel La Plaisance
Aux Vieux Gréements
La Fleur de Sel
- One day tickets : €15 / €9
- Two days tickets : €24 / €14
Free for children under the age of 10 and on July 19th
- Brest Tourist Office
Tel : 0298442496
- Finistère Tourist Office
Tel : 0298762564
- Brest 2016
Tel : 0298922008
Nearly 20 000 sailors and more than 2 000 ships of all sizes and from all periods are expected including about fifty tall ships. Here are some of the most remarkable ones. The Hermione, a replica of La Fayette's historical flagship. The Libertad, 103 m long, an impressive three-masted bark launched in 1956 that often sails around the world, to train officer cadets of the Argentinean Naval academy. The Cuauhtemoc, 90 m long, a Mexican three-masted bark serving as training ship. She made in 1990 a round-the-world trip, sailing 26,000 nautical miles in 180 days. The Swaensborgh, a steel-hulled topsail schooner that was built in Germany in 1907 and now a 32-passenger ocean Dutch cruising sailboat. The Recouvrance, a 42 m long exact replica of a topsail French schooner built in 1990.
World largest tall ship
The Nao Victoria, a replica of one of the four 16th century ships that took part in the trip led by Magellan. The Sedov, 117.50 m, the world largest tall ship, a merchant vessel built in Germany in 1921, given to Russia after the Second World War and now used as training ships. The Iris, a ketch with a steel hull and deck that was built in 1915 in a Dutch shipyard for use as a herring boat in the North Sea. It first set sail as the Pallas and was turned into a day sailer and a cruising sailboat in 2001.
There will also be a myriad of ancient and traditional ships sometimes more than one hundred years old that still go over the seas coming from France, all European Union States and the four corners of the planet. Particularly from the five countries and territories being guests of honor of this edition. Portugal, Great Britain, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Melanesia.
For the festival, the French Navy will exceptionally gives visitors access to the banks of the Penfeld River where is located one of its main dockyards. Many exhibitions and activities will be organized there, especially on July 14th. The Navy’s four sail training ships will be moored there. The Belle Poule, a topsail schooner and her sister ship, the Étoile., built in 1932 in Fécamp and a replica of Paimpol’s cod fishing schooners. The Grande Hermine, a fore-and-aft rigged yawl that first set sail in 1932. The Mutin, a 33 m cutter built in 1926 based on the design of tuna fishing sailboats. The French Navy will also present modern ships. The Aquitaine, a multipurpose frigate, the first anti-submarine one of the FREMM program. The Monge, a 225 m test and measurement vessel and reconnaissance ship whose main role is to observe the flight tests of ballistic and tactical missiles.
Trips out on the water
© Franck Beterrmin / Rivacom
All these ships will be for most of them open to the public and the event also gives the opportunity to watch all them rounding under sails one after the other in the Brest roads. Indeed, every days and nights there will be parades bringing together dozens of ships. A show visitors will be able to enjoy from the quays or from the sea as motor boats will offer one and half hour trips out on the water. More exceptional, traditional wooden yachts will be carrying out daily short trips with tourists on board.
Besides, many kinds of boats come and go every day and all day long, taking part in races and parades. Let's name old fishing or cargo sailboats either restored or rebuilt, powerboats from the 50s, small traditional pleasure boats, exotic boats from Indonesia, Brazil and Australia, gigs and sail-and-oar boats, boats of today's marine industries, ocean racing sailboats ranging from the Pen Duick yachts to today’s giant multihulls.
But the show will be also on the quays and in town where will go on exhibitions, street performances, sea shanties, Celtic music, jazz and rock concerts, brass band parades and fireworks display. In addition, each invited country will present its maritime traditions as well as its culture through gastronomy, craftsmen, musical animations, exhibitions and shows.
A festive week that will end in apotheosis on July 19th with a great regatta More than 1 200 sailing ships will cruise along the Brittany coast from Brest till Douarnenez where some boats will remain three more days as this city holds another maritime festival from July 19th to 24th.
May 18, 2016