The sea and legend come together at Douarnenez: the town is said to have sprung from the city of Ys, the domain of King Gradlon, whose treacherous daughter Dahut caused it to be swallowed up by the waters of the bay. But it was also a very real commercial port, exporting cloth produced in the region in around the 16th century. Its greatest period of prosperity was in the 19th century, when Douarnenez became one of the major centres of the sardine industry. Traces of these epic days still remain, in the old houses, the churches in Pouldavid and, above Rosmeur harbour, the workshops and the little houses where the fishermen lived. These colourful quaysides, that were once buzzing with the activities of fishing boats and canning factories, are now lined with cafés and restaurant terraces.
Traditional boats to visit and treasure Island
The best place to go to see authentic boats and tall ships from all over the world is the Port-Musée (maritime museum)! You’ll find it right next to Port-Rhu, the town’s oldest harbour. Five boats are at anchor in the wet dock and open to the public. There’s a lobster boat, a flat-bottomed freighter, a British tug, a barge and a Norwegian coaster. The kids will just love playing at being skipper! Opposite the maritime museum and the marina is the Isle of Tristan, an island that’s full of surprises. At low tide you can join a guided tour to discover this scrap of land that’s home to exotic botanical gardens, unexpected orchards, the remains of fortifications and a princesses’ house. It’s said that booty is still buried there! Your guide has lots of facts and funny anecdotes to tell you, and will show you the very best views of Douarnenez and the bay.