The manufacture des Tabacs at Morlaix!

So let me take back to my region of Brittany and something off the beaten path but worth stopping by especially as it is going thru a transformation that will be super for all to see. I have done briefs on it in my posts on Morlaix but feel now deserves a post of its own. I will be telling you about the Manufacture des Tabacs or the Tabacco Factory of Morlaix.

The Manufacture des Tabacs or Morlaix Tobacco Factory is a group of buildings located on the quai de Léon in Morlaix. This is in the Finistére dept 29 of the region of Brittany. I will skip the town as already mentioned in previous posts in my blog.

The manufacture des Tabacs was built in four stages: the main buildings, subdivided into three groups (manufacture, stores, logis) were built between 1736 and 1740 according to the plans of Jean-François Blondel, member of the Royal Academy of Architecture. During the inter-war period, four new buildings were added, crowned by a concrete frame imitating green wood.  The Chamber of Commerce and Industry  (CCI) of Morlaix acquires the monument in April 2001.


In December 2007, the entire west wing of the architectural ensemble found new assignments: artists’ studios, businesses, offices , etc.  At the end of 2008, a first installment of repairs to the fireworks and burned roofs is completed. In 2009, the development of courts and public passages are made, allowing it to open a little more this property complex to the rest of the city.  On May 24, 2013, the Espace des Sciences and Morlaix Communauté sign an agreement to open a branch of the Espace des Sciences in the tobacco factory of Morlaix in 2015.


A bit of old history I like

The Manufacture des Tabacs de Morlaix must be one of the oldest in France. It already existed in 1689, because there are records of the hospice, that the children of this establishment worked and made ankles for the manufacture. In 1667, the Monarchy having reserved the monopoly of the manufacture of tobacco, leased it to Sr. Jean Breton. In 1718 this monopoly returned to the general farm; it was then that it was established a factory in Morlaix.  From 1723 to 1747, the East India Company owned the tobaccos, the company was obliged to build a new building, which rose on the Quai de Leon instead called the Clos-Marant. The new Royal factory was completed in 1736-40.

The Manufacture des Tabacs produces snuff, chew and smoke until the dawn of the 21C. The advent of the steam induces the construction of new premises between 1868 and 1871. Four other buildings surmounted by a concrete frame, called “the Cathedral”, are erected between the two wars.  At the height of its activity, around 1880, the Manu employs more than 1,800 people. First manual (hence the name of Manufacture), the production is mechanized from the late 19C. Machines are improving and the number of jobs is decreasing. In 1995, the establishment has only 185 employees. Production begins to be delocalized. It is then that a large fire seriously damages part of the site. The announced closure of the Manu is experienced here as a historical, social and economic wrench.

Until the decree of the National Assembly, dated March 20, 1791, under the French revolution, which abolished the monopoly, recognized to all French the right to cultivate, manufacture and sell tobacco. The tobacco factory was closed and a large number of workers were out of work.  The buildings, which were almost entirely rebuilt in 1868-1871, are immense, the courtyards spacious, the workshops vast and well ventilated, but the whole is without architectural character.

There is a future for all wonderful beautiful things in my belle France!

The Manufacture des Tabacs that for 250 years was a main motor of fabrication of cigars etc, today it is save by administrative offices and it is open to the public to showcase it.  A reconversion project was born: the Manu, hitherto closed to the public, will become a new city district combining economic, administrative, cultural and educational activities, around a few dwellings. The CCI takes charge of the project management of all the works. Of the 31,000m² of the site, 10,000m² of buildings without heritage interest are demolished between 2003 and 2005.  In order to make this project feasible, work is needed to rehabilitate 3600 m2 of this historic monument. This site also includes the restoration of 14 preserved machines and 12 mills to grate as well as the creation of an attractive scenography, Including the installation of “Espace des Sciences”, a unique science center in France that will open in 2020. This real palace of discovery will have the mission of promoting the heritage and history of the Manufacture and promoting scientific and industrial culture through exhibitions, workshops, events and conferences for all. Great indeed, we will return.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Morlaix on the tobacco factory in French

Tourist office of dept 29 Finistere on Morlaix in English

Tourist office of Brittany on Morlaix in English

There you go, i hope you have the chance to stop by this wonderful town of Morlaix, we like it and have memorable moments here with the family. As said, we will return to see the Manufacture des Tabacs or Tobacco factory fully restore in 2020. See you!

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

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