Brest, France

The City of Brest

History of Sister City Relationship

Denver, Colorado and Brest, France have the oldest sister city relationship for Denver, starting in 1948.  Its genesis began in 1947, after East High School teacher Amanda Knecht visited the city and was moved by the extensive devastation from bombing during World War II.  With the help of her students, she was able to raise $32,000 upon her return.  These donations went towards rebuilding the children’s wing of the Brest City Hospital.  This relationship was the second sister city to be formed within the United States.

Facts At-A-Glance

Pronunciation: breyst
Region: Northwestern France.  Naval city in the Finestere Provence in the Bretagne (Brittany) region. 
Brest Population: 141,315 (2012).
France Population: 66,836,154 (2016).
Mayor: François Cuillandre
Spoken Languages: French (national)

Brest: Of Interest

  • Brest has a strong and proud maritime history. In Brittany, one of France’s most rugged regions, Brest is a mix of coastline, ancient towns, islands, and inland woods.
  • The seaport town was first recognized by Cardinal Richelieu in 1631 as a base for the French Navy and was a key location for the allied invasion in WWII.
  • A Celtic duchy for more than one thousand years before its annexation to France in 1532, it is an area rich in culture, tradition, and history.
  • In present-day Brest, there are many attractions that bring people from around the world, and also help to preserve the culture. Brest is home to Europe’s largest open air aquarium, Oceanopolis. The city also has a sizable art museum called the Musée de Beaux-Arts. At the Tour de la Matte Tanguy, the city has an exhibit of dioramas that show life in Brest prior to the devastation of WWII. Every four years, a massive Brest Boat Festival is held, featuring as many as 300,000 ships.
  • Tourists also flock to this area to experience the world-famous local delicacy, the Brêton crepe.

Brest – Denver Relationship

  • Although Brest and Denver are actually quite different, what fuels this sister city relationship is a demonstration of the mission of Denver Sister Cities International: citizens taking diplomacy into their own hands with people helping people through collaboration and understanding.
  • After the initial interaction to provide financial aid to the hospital, the two cities have participated in a wide variety of collaborations. One of the most frequent activities between the two cities are student and community exchanges. Musicians, artists, teachers, and hospitality and business professionals have all participated in these exchanges. There is also an ongoing development of additional learning opportunities with Johnson and Wales University.
  • Another consistent event held by the Brest committee is its wine tastings and dinners. These events give local community members the chance to experience Brest culture through food.
  • The committee has hosted other opportunities to experience the culture, such as concerts with Breton singer, Nolwenn Monjarret.
  • The committee helped to create a Denver garden in France and, with the help of the Denver Botanic Gardens, continues to help maintain and support it. This garden contains Colorado native plants that can give Bretons a taste of Denver’s culture, as well as the outdoor environment that Coloradans pride themselves on.

STUDENT EXCHANGE: 2024 Student Exchange Application

Brest Committee Contact Information

Committee Chair: Alexis Gonzalez

Phone: (303) 832-1336

Brest: Resources

Chair Emeritus: Laurette Heppell

Sillage, le magazine de Brest Metropole
Official website of Brest Airport

Chateau de Brest
Wikipedia link to the oldest monument in Brest, the castle ‘Chateau de Brest’

Conservatoire botanique national de Brest
Link to the Brest National Botanical Conservatory

US Embassy, Paris, France
Link to the United States Embassy page in the capital Paris, France.