Friday, March 16, 2007


I've been taken to task once or twice for describing Brest as only of interest to 'those fond of post-war architecture, naval history and shopping' in my guidebook to Finistere. Over the years since that was published I haven't changed my mind, but I have re-evaluated the first two items (the third, never). Three things in the last fortnight have combined to bring Brest back to my attention and send it shooting up the list of favoured places. Firstly, a friend sent me articles written about Brittany by journalists around the world and several of these involved talking to people in Brest who gave good value about their city. Secondly, I was invited to a concert of 'schizophrenic jazz' by the duo Nosfell who are rapidly establishing a reputation in and outside France. It was held in an underground cabaret/bar venue, with several hundred young things leaping up and down in a haze of assorted smoky substances whilst the music thundered all around - fantastic 'night in the city' experience which buoyed me up for days (all that passive smoking doubtless). Lastly I went to the chateau yesterday, feeling that my canal journey must truly end in Brest even if the canal itself didn't. From the medieval towers, miraculously spared in the allied bombing that flattened the rest of the city, looking across the Rade and out along the Goulet, all that naval history finally came alive before my eyes and gave me what I hope will be a strong ending for The Long Thought. Thank you Brest.

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