Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Brest, a seaport of Finistere, in France, about 350 miles N.W. of Paris, capital of arrondissement and of three cantons. It is a garrison town and a naval station, and possesses both arsenal and dockyards, and is a town of increasing importance as a military and naval port. Its trade is not very extensive. The chief export is corn, and the chief imports are colonial produce and naval stores. The roadstead of Brest is one of the finest and safest in Europe, and will hold more than 500 ships of war. The harbour, formed by the Penfeld, includes the military harbour, and the old mercantile harbour; while the new commercial harbour is in that part of the roadstead which lies to the S. of the town. The roadstead communicates with the sea by a passage about three miles long, and varying from 2,000 to 4,000 yards in width, well defended by batteries, and well lighted by five lighthouses. The military harbour with its belongings is of vast extent and great importance, and is fitted with every appliance necessary for fitting out vessels of war. This harbour is defended by powerful batteries, and by a citadel called the "Chateau," which occupies the site of an old Romano-Gallic fort. The arm of the sea into which the Penfeld falls is crossed by a fine iron turning-bridge. The mouth of the Penfeld divides the town into Brest proper, and Recouvrance, which was formerly only a suburb, difficult of access. A bridge now joins the two parts. Brest proper is built on the slope of a hill, and forms naturally a high and low town. Of these the latter, in the neighbourhood of the port, consists of narrow winding streets; while in the former the streets, some of them, climb like veritable ladders, and the fifth storey of one house is on a level with the garden of another. Brest has no very remarkable monuments. The high altar of the church of St. Louis has a baldachin supported by four antique marble columns, which came from an ancient temple of Serapis at Lebedah. In the Middle Ages the possession of Brest was considered so important that there was a saying, "He who is not lord of Brest is not duke of Brittany." The English possessed it for a time, and vainly tried to take it, with Holland, in 1694, and alone in 1757. It was Richelieu who first determined to make it a marine arsenal.