Etel, Brittany

We had walked on the Pointe de Listoir and afterwards decided to follow the rivers to the sea so visited the small town of Etel on the river estuary.

The settlement gained its independence as a town in 1850 and in the 19C made its money from fishing, particularly sardines, with twelve factories canning the fish at the height of the trade. However, the sardines disappeared from the Brittany coastal waters at the beginning of the 20C putting thousands out of work. Attention turned to tuna fishing and by 1934 this was the biggest tuna-fishing port in France.  In the storms of September 1930 ten boats were lost, and seventy fishermen died. (There is a fascinating account of life at that time, and the storm, here.) Then came WWII and the end of the tuna fishing. Today there are plenty of boats in Etel, but they seem to be mainly for pleasure and leisure.

The edge of the fishing harbour in Etel today

The marina in Etel today

Across the river from Etel a former shipbuilding yard

Across the river from Etel a former shipbuilding yard with the wrecks of former trawlers

The Lorient Pocket was a considerable area around Lorient controlled by the Germans in WWII as part of the Atlantic Wall. On the 7 May 1945 the ceasefire agreement was signed here, in Etel, and a plaque on a restaurant (below) remembers the event.

The site of the signing of the surrender of the Lorient Pocket

The site of the signing of the surrender of the Lorient Pocket

It was only a brief stop in Etel, but then we had already walked at the Pointe de Listoire!