10 largest cities in France




Brest is a French commune, capital of the arrondissement of the Finistère department in the Brittany region. It is an important port, the second military port in France after Toulon, located at the western end of Brittany.

With its 140,064 inhabitants (2017), Brest is the 25th most populous municipality in France. With a metropolis of 209,722 inhabitants (2017), it represents the first agglomeration in western Brittany and the second in the Brittany region after Rennes. Although Brest, also called the city of Ponant, is the most populous city in Finistère, the department prefecture is Quimper.

In the Middle Ages, the history of Brest merges with the history of its castle. Then Richelieu made it a military port. Brest will develop around its arsenal, until the second half of the twentieth century. Strongly marked by bombardments during the Second World War, Brest saw its historic center almost entirely renewed during Reconstruction. At the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, the deindustrialisation of the city was accompanied by the development of the tertiary sector. Brest is labeled City of Art and History.

Brest is today a major university town with more than 29,000 students. Its university is multidisciplinary and notably includes a faculty of medicine. In addition, Brest and its country have several grandes écoles: engineering schools (ESIAB, IMT Atlantique, ENSTA Bretagne, ENIB and ISEN), the Brest Business School, the EURO-Institut d'Actuariat EURIA, Brest is also an important research center, focused on the sea, and notably hosts the head office and the largest of the Ifremer centers, CEDRE, SHOM as well as the European University Institute of the Sea and the French Polar Institute. The Technopôle Brest-Iroise facilitates the implementation of these scientific and technical skills in the economic and industrial field.

Brest has always been very marked by its maritime past: the Marine Academy was founded there in 1752, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was built there, and every four years, in July, Brest hosts the great international celebration of the sea, boats and sailors. Brest also hosts the Maistrance school (initial training school for petty officers), the foam school at the Naval Instruction Center, and numerous nautical businesses within the Breton Sailing Valley.