Arsenal or Naval Base of Brest!

Ok so once again going to tell something different, it can be a tourist destination more of a military naval base but can be visited with prior arrangement of the tourist office of Brest and will be the highlight of your trip here me think. Of course, I have mentioned in previous posts, but will like to tell you more about the Naval Base of Brest.

The Brest arsenal or military port of Brest is a naval base of the French Navy consisting of a set of military and naval installations located in the Penfeld River in Brest, dept 29 of Finistère in the region of Brittany. This is the second French naval base, after that of Toulon. In the popular workers’ language the local Brestois, call it the “arsouil” (do not want to say the meaning here but soldiers needs). It is right in city center after the castle naval museum of course!

brest

The Penfeld, in the confines of the military port, is almost entirely bordered by wharves, which however present the major drawback of not being attached directly because of the level of the rock that discovers in many places at low tide. There are also positions, mainly on the left bank, by means of overflowing, in order to allow some small units to moor in Penfeld, and to use some facilities such as the great crane.

brest

There four spikes were to be attached to the south pier of the military harbor, parallel to each other, arranged in an angle to the pier and rooted every 250 meters, the first spur being rooted at about 600 meters from the rooting of the pier. Their common length of 270 meters and the depth available to their right would allow accommodating the largest boats of the Allied Marines, especially the aircraft carriers, hence their name. Brest is no longer a port-base for a French aircraft carrier. The usefulness of the spikes is limited to the reception of large ships, and of Allied boats in stopover or hulls. Along the pier, reservations made for the reception of no. 1 and 2 spikes are still discernible. This basin, located in the so-called Troulan Cove, on the left bank of the Penfeld, is currently named pool no. 1. It is the oldest of the forms of Brest. So unique, it was called the form of Brest. Basin No. 1 was built in 1683, modified in 1745 and 1864. Its dimensions are 115 meters in length for 25 meters width at the level of the docks.

brest

Until 1966, France was part of NATO’s integrated command. As such, France had to have facilities for the reception of Allied marine boats, including American aircraft carriers. For the arsenal of Brest, this obligation was done by the creation of four pitches, the ears of aircraft carriers. The two basins of Pontaniou are located in the Cove of Pontaniou, at the confluence of the Penfeld and the Valley housing the rue Saint-Malo, now crossed by the building of the Salou an area located upstream of the current Pont de L’Harteloire, where currently are basins 4, 6 and 7 of the arsenal.

Not much used upstream of the pont de Recouvrance, these stations welcome however downstream of this bridge the old naval rigging, the port’s skippers and the trans rades providing services between Brest and the Crozon peninsula. Bordered by eight lines of pontoons launched perpendicularly to the masterly of the wharf, this wharf is the privileged area for the docking of the units of the National Navy based in Brest, in particular for the minehunters, the avisos, or the buildings-school. Two parallel pontoon lines are embossed in front of the underwater base and have a similar role.

brest-pont-de-recouvrance-nov12

One of the most spectacular workshops is certainly the cordage (Corderie), if only because of its length.  In Brest, there were two cordages, after the oldest one, installed along the Brest basin, burned down: the low cordage and the high cordage stretched under the prison and the maritime hospital. The Madeleine building, or Pontaniou prison, was built during the first decade of the 19C. Originally intended for the sailors and workers of the arsenal (and not the convicts), it was a model prison, with a certain comfort whose flagship point were the individual cells. Located just beyond the lift of Pontaniou and the building to the Lions,( bâtiment aux Lions) it was outside the confines of the arsenal.  Transferred to civilian use in 1952 the building is still standing today

Brest

The building to the Lions, the name given comes from the ten lead lion heads that serve as gargoyles. It is also referred to as the lifting of Pontaniou.  This building, located at the bottom of Pontaniou Cove, had a double objective: to close the Pontaniou Cove , and to promote communication between the plateau of “the Cayenne” ,where was the second depot of the crews of the fleet, and that of the Capuchin.  The lifting of Pontaniou is a four-story dike bridge, 58 meters long, 10.5 meters wide and 20 meters high. The site successively housed the convent of the order of the Capuchin, a hospital, a barracks and in the 19C, large industrial workshops.  Retrofitted to the community in 2010, the workshop buildings were conserved and rearranged to accommodate commercial and cultural activities (e.g. Media Library and Cinema).

The mole of the viaduct allows to ensure the connection between the workshops of the Capuchin plateau and the docks. This imposing construction is elevated to the north of the plateau to which it is connected by a 30 meters long arch. This is one of the most representative monuments of the naval arsenal steam period.

In all an impressive naval base right coming up to the city center of Brest!

brest

Some webpages as usual from to help you plan your trip here worth the reservation.

Tourist office of Brest on the naval base guided tour

Official Finistere dept 29 tourist office on Brest

Official Brittany tourist office on Brest

There you something different off the beaten path and well worth the visit; the Naval Base of Brest is unique for a visit.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “Arsenal or Naval Base of Brest!”

  1. I admit I wondered what naval had to do with tourism, but there you are. I’d never thought to visit naval bases anywhere in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

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