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Douarnenez is a French commune, located in the department of
Finistère in the Brittany region. Douarnenez still retains the
reputation of a great sardine port, even if the vagaries of the
sardines, over time, have led to a diversification of the formerly
seasonal fisheries, as well as in other economic sectors including
A thriving fishing port until the late 1970s and early 1980s, it has experienced a sharp decline since. It is also an important marina in Finistère with Tréboul and Port-Rhu. It is also the city in which the kouign-amann was invented.
The town was enlarged in 1945 by merging with the neighboring towns of Ploaré, Pouldavid and Tréboul, and it is today known as a town with three ports (Port-Rhu, port of Rosmeur, marina).
The name of Douarnenez appears for the first time in the form Douarnenectz in 1505; it is written Douarnenes in 1520 in a “sealed letter” from King François I to the “Chancellery of Brittany”.
The name of the locality is mentioned in the form Leones in 1154 (attested on the map in Arabic language of Al Idrissi, could, according to Bernard Tanguy, represent an evolved form of the Latin legionense, "city where a Roman legion is stationed"); in the Latin form Insula Videlicet Sancti Tutuarni (translation of the Breton Tutuarn Enez "island of Saint Tutuarn") in 1138; then in the forms Insula Trestani (Enez Tristan) in the fourteenth century; Terrouer of Douarnenes in 1540; Town and Bourg of Douarnenes in 1541; Douar an enez in 1598.
The port, before becoming Douarnenez in 1541, was called "hamlet of Saint-Michel" then "village of the island of Tristan" in 1520.
The name Douarnenez would come from the Breton expression Douar an enez ("the land of the island" in French), the site then depending on the Tristan Island. This hypothesis is made credible by Father Maunoir who, in the seventeenth century named the locality in Latin terra insulæ, because the location depended on the priory of Saint-Tutarn located in Tristan Island. Another hypothesis puts forward the idea that the name “Douarnenez” comes from the very name of the Tristan Island, Tutuarn enez or Toutouarnenez in Breton.
Its inhabitants bear the name of Douarnenistes; their neighbors sometimes call them (especially the women) Penn Sardin, in reference to the work of the canneries which consisted, among other things, in cutting off the heads of sardines (meaning head in Breton).