Douarnenez

Douarnenez, is a commune in the Finistère department in Bretagne in north-western France.

It lies at the mouth of the Pouldavid Estuary on the southern shore of Douarnenez Bay in the Atlantic Ocean, 25 kilometres (16 mi)(15 miles) north-west of Quimper. The population in 1999 was 15,827, a decrease over previous counts. It still has fish canning facilities (sardines and mackerel) although sardine fishing, for which the town became famous, has fallen off in recent years. Increasingly, Douarnenez has become an attraction for tourists, not only in view of its pleasant location and warm climate but because of its marinas, its maritime museum, its regattas and its sandy beaches. The island of Tristan off Douarnenez has a mysterious past, linked as it is to the legend of Tristan and Iseult.

The fishing history of Douarnenez goes back to Gallo-Roman times when, as archeological finds demonstrate, fish were salted along the cliffs of Plomarc’h. In the years before the French revolution, sardines became the driving force for the local economy, culminating in huge fishing and canning activities at the beginning of the twentieth century. The strikes in the 1920s in favour of better working conditions for the factory women or Penn Sardin were the main reason why Douarnenez became one of the first communist municipalities in France. Today, the canning trade continues although most of the fish are brought in from other ports. Douarnenez is still a centre of boat building and repair work.

The town centre is located at the top of a peninsula separating the Port of Rosmeur on the eastern side from Port Rhu to the west. The steep, narrow cobbled streets which climb up to the town have changed little over the past century, revealing a wide range of places of interest, including old chapels, the Halles or covered market and unspoilt houses once inhabited by local fishermen.

The main square is not only the site of the local market but is the focus of shopping, banking and the local economy. There are a number of hotels and restaurants here as well as the post office and the tourist office.

Perhaps the most picturesque part of the town is the road along the sea front at the Port of Rosmeur which is lined with cafés and restaurants specialising in seafood.

For further information visit the Crozon Commune Office at www.douarnenez-tourisme.com