BREST: 29200 (Finistère département, Bretagne région) Print

 

48°23′27″N, 4°29′8″W. Brest, a city in NW France located amidst dramatic landscape at the west end of the Brittany peninsula, has a population of 150,000. The city is an important port and naval base. The population of the city was estimated at 146,000 as of 2004; the population of the metropolitan area was recorded as 303,484 in the 1999 census. Although the city is by far the largest in Finistère, its préfecture (capital) resides in the much smaller commune of Quimper. Breton is spoken here, albeit not as an official language. Traditional biscuits include Traou Mad, which is a full fat butter biscuit, somewhat similar to Scottish shortbreads. Nothing definite is known of Brest until about 1240, when a count of Léon ceded it to John I, Duke of Brittany. In 1342 John of Montfort gave it up to the English who held it until 1397. Its medieval importance was great enough to give rise to the saying, "He is not Duke of Brittany who is not lord of Brest." By the marriage of Francis I to Claude, daughter of Anne of Brittany, Brest with the rest of the duchy passed to the French crown. The advantages of the situation for a seaport town were first recognized by Richelieu, who in 1631 constructed a harbour with wooden wharves, which soon became a station of the French navy. Colbert changed the wooden wharves to masonry and otherwise improved the post, and fortifications (1633-1707) followed in 1680-1688. During the 18th century the fortifications and the naval importance of the town continued to develop. In 1694 an English squadron under John Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley of Stratton, was miserably defeated in the Attack on Brest; but in 1794, during the revolutionary war, the French fleet, under Villaret de Joyeuse, was as thoroughly beaten in the same place by the English admiral Howe. During World War II, the Germans held a large submarine base in Brest. Destroyed at the Battle for Brest, the city has since been rebuilt. (About three buildings were left standing.) After the end of the war, the West German government had to pay several billion dollars of reparations as compensation to the homeless and destitute civilians in the city for any of their homes or property that were damaged or destroyed in the war. The rebuilt city consists primarily of utilitarian gray granite and concrete buildings. In 1972, the base of the French submarine nuclear deterrence was opened at Île Longue. Since 1981, Edward BELAICH, Président de la Communauté since 1979, found his way to the Town Hall for the acquisition of a Community Centre. The municipality gave its consent on May 19. The official unveiling of "Beth Hafsé Aaretz" (Home of Boundaries of the Earth) by the Grand Rabbi R.S. SIRAT, then Grand Rabbi of France and by Mr. KERBRAT, Mayor de la Ville, took place on February 15th, 1987. Marked by planting two chestnut trees in the "Garden of Deportation" (" Jardin Rozenbaum ") and given to the City by the family FRAK in memory of their mother, who died in deportation. [January 2008]

 

Municipal cemetery of Brest: In 1991, the Jewish community acquired a Jewish section in the cemetery thanks to the intervention of Mr P. STITCH, then Mayor of the town. Synagogue and Centre Communautaire at 40, rue de la République - 29200 BREST. They have a Chevra Kaddisha. [January 2008]