The Bertheaume fort is a small part of the large coherent system of small forts and batteries designed to protect the entrance to Brest harbour. It is situated on a small island just 100m off the coast of the town of Plougonvelin. It was only accessible at low tide by foot over a rocky bank, attackers had to climb the steep cliffs first to reach the walls of the fort, an impossible job.
The medieval fort that used to be situated on the island was destroyed during an English attack in the 16th century. On his inspections of the Brest region in 1683 the famous architect Sebastien Vauban had already noticed the strategic value of the island and wanted to build a battery there.
The first cannon were placed there during the English attack in 1694 and the fort was finished in 1699. The original fortifications where situated only on the large island. The buildings on the smaller island closest to the mainland date from the 19th century. The fort on the large island consists of batteries for cannon on 4 levels connected with stairs. At some places the bases of the chauguettes can still be seen on the walls and posterns gave access to the foot of the walls.
In the past the island was only accessible by a boat at high tide. This was a small boat connected to a rope running from the mainland to the island. By pulling the rope the boat went to or from the island. The current steel bridge dates from the 20th century. In the late 19th century the fort was abandoned and was replaced by the more modern casemated fort on the mainland. The Nazis built a small blockhouse on the island.
In the 1990s the Fort de Betheaume was restored and opened to the public. Apart from the visit of the fort it also offers a survival track (only available when the weather conditions allow it). The fort is open to the public all year round. A small restaurant and various exhibition rooms are located in the 19th century fort. There you can also visit the underground powder magazine, carved in the rocks 13m below ground level.References:
The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.
The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.
According to tourist literature on-site, during the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886.
The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail. The church is relatively short in length at 105m, but its interior is 33.45m high to the vaulting. At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details. The L"écoute sculpture by Henri de Miller appears outside the church, to the south. A Keith Haring sculpture stands in a chapel of the church.
The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.
With 8,000 pipes, the organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris. The organ originally constructed by P.-A. Ducroquet was powerful enough for the premiere of Hector Berlioz" titanic Te Deum to be performed at St-Eustache in 1855.