Lorient: just its name is enough to conjure up alluring far-off lands! It was founded during the reign of Louis XIV, as the aromas of coffee and spices began to waft through its streets. Under the impetus of the French East India Company, this young town in Morbihan grew thanks to maritime trade with Asia and imports of exotic foodstuffs. For four centuries, it has looked seawards, from its bay, with direct access to the marina from the town centre.
A unique atmosphere in each port
This welcoming, community-oriented town continues to tell the tale of its multifaceted past – military, naval and ocean-faring – through its various ports. Kergroise is still a bustling commercial port, while the Pointe de Kéroman is a busy fishing spot… Lorient is France’s 2nd largest fishing port today. The quayside and the fish auctions are a hive of activity every morning. Fresh fish and seafood just off the boats are taken straight to the Merville indoor market, the beating heart of the town. Lorient football club is even nicknamed Les Merlus, after the port’s fish speciality, which means hake in English!
For an insight into Lorient’s ocean-faring history, head to La Base
Keroman also harbours the thriving Lorient La Base centre and its pontoons. This former submarine military base during World War II has since been inspiringly repurposed, the bunkers are now boathouses for example. While skippers are busy at the Course au Large centre, you can visit the French submarine Flore and Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly (Sailing World), where the whole family can set sail for a thrilling discovery of offshore racing! Get the adrenaline pumping with a zipline descent over the water, then relax on the outdoor decking afterwards! On a tour through the streets, admire the 1950s architecture. The brightly coloured apartment blocks stand side-by-side with Art Deco houses and traditional town houses.
Today, Lorient is a happening town!
Good food, culture, shopping… The list of recommended venues just keeps getting longer! A thriving arts and culinary scene, champions of vegan food, zero-waste… and lobster and chips, an open-air street art gallery, a concert in an old blockhaus and quirky addresses (we’re a fan of Fracas, a café-bookshop-ceramic workshop, and Dynamo, a café & bike shop)… This is a community that loves to share their bold ideas! Environmentally friendly travel is the way to go here: cycling is a joy and there are water buses too.
What about the beaches?
On the town, you’re sold. But do the local beaches measure up? Absolutely. Facing the bay at Larmor-Plage, a mere 5 minutes away, you could be on the French Riviera. This is a popular destination among surfers and lovers of long summer evening drinks, with Groix in the distance. Before heading to Le Fort-Bloqué and its fort that can be reached at low-tide, pop into the lovely port of Lomener. With such an array of picture-postcard sites, you’ll feel reluctant to move on, but we can promise it’s well worth carrying on to the beaches at Le Petit Pérello and Guidel, where surfers of all levels hit the waves. The scenery changes at Le Bas Pouldu, where the wooded shores, sandbanks and the river meet the ocean tides. The perfect place to paddle in the refreshing sea breeze!