© Yannick Le Gal
Port‑Louis A fabulous port
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Port Louis

A short and pleasant boat trip across the bay of Lorient, Port-Louis is worth a day of anyone’s time. The main sight is the star-shaped fort, which now houses two fascinating museums, but there’s also a nice – and busy – sandy beach. Energetic sorts can take the coastal path to Locmiquélic.

A fabulous port

Gateway to India

In 1664 Port-Louis, named after Louis XIII, became the main base of the newly created Compagnie des Indes, the company that traded between France and India. The main reason for this decision was the port’s suitability as a location for boat building and the protection offered by its fort, known as La Citadelle.

Star of the show

The star-shaped fort, built in 1591, now houses the Musée de la Compagnie des Indes, where visitors can learn about the history of the company and see examples of its trading, as well as the Musée National de la Marine, which has a fascinating exhibition on sea rescues. There are wonderful views over Lorient and the coastline from the ramparts.

Arty centre

After the Revolution, sardine and tuna fishing and canning were the port’s main industries until the end of the 19th century when tourism took over. When you’ve take a walk around the small town centre and visited some of the artisans – there’s a glass blower, art galleries and even a lute maker – relax for a couple of hours on the sandy beach.

Main attractions

French speakers can follow a 2.5 mile (4km) trail around 21 sites in the town accompanied by a free leaflet from the tourist office. Keen walkers should head north along the 3.7 mile (6km) coastal path to Locmiquélic (at low tide); the main attraction here is the Réserve Ornithologique (bird reserve) but if you’re around on a Saturday evening head to Chez Mamm-Kounifl, a Café de Pays on the Route de Port-Louis, for one of their legendary Celtic rock concerts.

Boat-bus

The easiest way to get to Port Louis is by Batobus, a 15-minute trip from Lorient. Leaving from Quai des Indes, flanked by smart 18th-century merchants’ houses, the ferry takes you past La Thalassa, a former oceanography vessel that is now a museum, and the vast concrete Base Keroman former German U-boat base.

Did you know ?

Southeast of Port-Louis is the Gâvres Peninsula, whose long sandy beach stretches for 21.7 miles (35km) and has one of France’s biggest dune systems.

Main points of interest

  • The ramparts, a listed Historic Monument
  • The Grande Poudrière (powder magazine), where the gunpowder for land batteries and ships was stored (1750-1752)
  • The Papegaut, a bastion dating from 1649-1653
  • The chapel of Saint-Pierre, built in 1553, burnt and rebuilt in 1859
  • The church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption founded in the 17th century
  • The fountains: Notre-Dame, De Marolles, Récollets
  • The wash houses: Récollets, Locmalo
  • The Petite Poudrière (powder magazine)
  • The citadel founded by the Spaniards and rebuilt under Louis XIII
  • The museum of the East India Company and the Naval Museum (Musée de la Marine)

Information & bookings

Lorient Bretagne Sud Tourisme


Official website of tourism in Brittany