One of the largest cities in the north-western French region of Brittany, Brest is a place which is synonymous with all things maritime. Serving as one of France’s principal ports, many of the buildings here hint at it being new, but much of the city’s older buildings were destroyed during World War II. However, Brest’s history lives on through its many museums and cultural venues. Today, Brest serves as a regional hub for tourists who want to explore the whole of Brittany, especially the numerous towns and villages located in the countryside and along the coast. It’s also developing a reputation for being one of France’s great university cities, with over 20,000 students living here during term time. The city’s students have made a notable contribution to local nightlife.
A smaller family car would be ideal for just about any journey, even into the Brittany countryside. They would also be easier to park than something like, say, a family saloon on the streets.
Driving in Brest
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
All the main highways going to and from Brest are toll-free, although you do need to keep an eye out for road signs and police patrolling the roadside.
In the city centre, buses and trams usually get right of way over cars, although they’re less regular during evenings and nights.
The best road for entering Brest by is the N12 which goes north-westwards towards other major cities such as Rennes.
Highlights & Hotspots
To learn about pre-war Brest, the best place to go is the Musée de la Tour Tanguy in Tanguy Tower. Here, there are a number of dioramas depicting how the city looked the day before World War II began, while you can look out over the city from the tower.
Another museum worth visiting is the Musée national de la Marine, situated in the city’s castle. It documents Brest’s important maritime role throughout the centuries as well as offering a window into Brest’s future as a port.
The Oceanopolis is one of France’s largest aquariums. If you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids, it’s probably the perfect place to start. The aquarium has three themed pavilions – polar, tropical and temperate – all housing different species of fish and mammal in their ideal habitat.
If you fancy something more outdoorsy, then a trip to the Conservatoire Botanique National de Brest is just the ticket. Located near the city centre, it is home to many endangered species of plant, with the garden’s administrators doing all they can to protect the plants.
Brest Bretagne Airport is the main airport for Western Brittany, sitting 6.4 miles northeast of the city centre. It mainly offers flights to other cities in France, although a few flights to cities in the UK and Spain are available during some parts of the year.
The airport is located just north of the N12, which is accessible by a link road. Keep going on the E50 westwards until the road ends and you‚Äôll find yourself in central Brest.