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An Oriant
Aerial view of the harbour of Lorient
Aerial view of the harbour of Lorient
Coat of arms of Lorient
Coat of arms
Lorient is located in France
Country France
Region Brittany
Department Morbihan
Arrondissement Lorient
Intercommunality Pays de Lorient
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Norbert Métairie
Area1 17.48 km2 (6.75 sq mi)
Population (2007)2 58,135
 • Density 3,300/km2 (8,600/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 56121 / 56100
Elevation 0–46 m (0–151 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Lorient (French pronunciation: ​; Breton: An Oriant) is a commune and a seaport in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France.


  • History 1
    • Prehistory and classical antiquity 1.1
    • Founding 1.2
    • Growth under the Company of the Indies 1.3
    • 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century 1.4
    • World War II 1.5
    • Reconstruction 1.6
  • Geography 2
    • Location 2.1
    • Climate 2.2
  • Population 3
    • Breton language 3.1
  • Economy 4
    • Ports 4.1
    • Industry 4.2
    • Transport 4.3
  • Education 5
    • Tertiary 5.1
  • Military 6
  • Keroman Submarine Base 7
  • Culture 8
    • Events 8.1
    • Media 8.2
  • Sports 9
    • Association football 9.1
    • Sailing 9.2
  • Notable Lorientais 10
    • Arts and literature 10.1
    • Sailors 10.2
    • Politics 10.3
    • Sports 10.4
    • Sciences 10.5
    • Others 10.6
  • International relations 11
    • Twin towns — Sister cities 11.1
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Prehistory and classical antiquity

Beginning around 3000 BC, settlements in area of Lorient are attested by the presence of megalithic architecture. Ruins of Roman roads (linking Vannes to Quimper and Port-Louis to Carhaix) confirm Gallo-Roman presence.


Lorient in the 18th century

In 1664,

  • Official website (in French)
  • Ville de Lorient et Festival Interceltique Images
  • Keroman submarine base
  • Festival Interceltique de Lorient
  • French Ministry of Culture list for Lorient (French)
  • See pictures on Antonio Mucherino's web site
  • Tourism office (in French)

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ René Estienne, « Les archives des compagnies commerciales et la traite : l’exemple de la Compagnie des Indes », Service historique de la Défense, Lorient, janvier 2009
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ (French) Ofis ar Brezhoneg: Enseignement bilingue
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Universite de Bretagne Sud
  29. ^ École Nationale Supérieure d'Ingénieurs de Bretagne-Sud
  30. ^ École Supérieure d'Art
  31. ^ École Nationale de Musique et de Danse
  32. ^ In the French Navy nomenclature, commandos are understood as units, not individuals
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  35. ^
  36. ^ Galway City Council - Town Twinnings
  37. ^


See also

L'Orient is twinned with:

Twin towns — Sister cities

International relations






  • Marie-Léontine Bordes-Pène (1858-1924), pianist
  • Serge Danet, a.k.a. Soldat Louis, founding member of Soldat Louis.
  • Renaud Detressan, b. 1956, a.k.a. Gary Wicknam, founding member of Soldat Louis
  • Marie Dorval (1798-1849), actress
  • Irène Frain, b. 1950, writer
  • Ernest Hello (1828-1885), writer
  • Viktor Lazlo, b. 1960, singer
  • Emmanuelle Le Cam, b. 1973, poet
  • Claude Lepoitevin, b.1936, painter
  • René Lote (1883-1944), writer and resistant
  • Auguste Nayel (1845-1909), sculptor, first curator of the museum of Lorient and founding member of the Société lorientaise des Beaux-Arts.
  • Émile Rocher, b. 1928, painter, sculptor and ceramist.
  • Christian Tomine, b. 1958, writer
  • Jacques Vaché (1895-1919), writer and artist, had a profound influence on Surrealism through his friendship with André Breton.
  • Dylou, b. 1996, lead singer of "The Mondays"

Arts and literature

Notable Lorientais

Eric Tabarly built three out of his six Pen Duick boats in Lorient.[35]

Lorient was also a staging port during the 2011–12 Volvo Ocean Race, as well as the starting point of la Solitaire du Figaro (2009 edition).

  • Jérémie Beyou[34] (Delta Dore),
  • Pascal Bidégorry[34] (Banque Populaire),
  • Franck Cammas[34] (Groupama), winner of the 2011–12 Volvo Ocean Race
  • Samantha Davies[34] (Roxy),
  • Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty[34] (Maisonneuve),
  • Jean-Pierre Dick[34] (Paprec-Virbac),
  • Yann Elies[34] (Generali),
  • Alain Gautier[34] (Foncia),
  • Sébastien Josse[34] (British Telecom),
  • Marc Thiercelin[34] (DCNS)

The converted Keroman submarine base has been home port to several skippers and their sailing teams:


The most popular club in Lorient is FC Lorient, which currently play in Ligue 1, the top level of French football. They are nicknamed les Merlus. They play their home fixtures at Stade du Moustoir. Christian Gourcuff has managed the team for over 20 years (aggregate years).

Association football

FC Lorient logo


Lorient is home to TyTélé, a local TV channel covering Morbihan through DTT.


Each year in August since 1970, Lorient hosts the Festival interceltique, bringing together artists from all the Celtic world (Brittany, Cornwall, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Galicia, Asturias, Australia, Acadia and Isle of Man). Each year, a Celtic nation is chosen as honored guest. It is one of the biggest festival in Europe by attendance (800,000 people for the 40th edition[33])


Pipers during the grande parade


Since they could not destroy the base and its submarine pens, the Allies had decided to flatten the city and port of Lorient to cut the supply lines to the U-boat bases. Between 14 January 1943 and 17 February 1943, as many as 500 high-explosive aerial bombs and more than 60,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on Lorient. The city was almost completely destroyed.

Lorient was the location of a German U-boat base during World War II. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz decided to construct the base on 28 June 1940. Between February 1941 and January 1942 three gigantic reinforced concrete structures were built on the Keroman peninsula. They are called K1, K2 and K3. In 1944 work began on a fourth structure. The base was capable of sheltering thirty submarines. Although Lorient was heavily damaged by Allied bombing raids, the naval base survived through to the end of the war. Lorient was held until May 1945 by the Nazi German army, even though this city was surrounded by the American Army, since the Germans there refused to surrender.

The former submarine base at Keroman

Keroman Submarine Base

Active units based near Lorient:

The Commando Jaubert storming a ship in a mock assault



Schools in Lorient belong to the Academy of Rennes.


The Gare de Lorient is the railway station, offering connections to Quimper, Nantes, Rennes, Paris (slightly less than 4 hours by TGV) and several regional destinations.

Lorient South Brittany Airport is situated just west of the city at Lann Bihoue, and it has direct flights to several destinations, such as to Paris and Lyon. There are direct connections with Ireland in Summer.


From its founding, shipbuilding has always been of great importance to the city. DCNS continues the legacy of the formerly state-owned shipyards (colloquially known as l'Arsenal) that began operation in 1690. It still builds warships, mainly frigates. There is also a substantial industrial base in Keroman to support the fishing fleet.


The port and Keroman submarine base
  • Keroman fishing port : In 2010, with a catch of 27,000 tons, it was second only to Boulogne-sur-Mer regarding catch tonnage among French fishing ports, but first considering the cash value.[25] It accounts for 3,000 jobs (including 700 fishermen) and 130 fishing vessels.
  • Kergroise cargo port : With 2.6 million tons of cargo per year (including oil, cattle fodder, sand, containers), it ranks first in Brittany[26]
  • Marinas : mooring berths are dispatched on Lorient (370), Kernevel (1,000), Port-Louis (450), Gâvres (57) and Guidel (102).[27] Additionally, there is a 800 metres (2,600 ft) long dock dedicated to offshore competitive sailing (Pôle course au large), recently built within the former Keroman submarine base.
  • Passenger ships : each year, more 457,500 passengers set sail to the nearby islands of Groix and Belle-Île-en-Mer.
  • Military : though no longer a French Navy base, new warships being built at DCNS temporarily dock on wharfs along the Scorff river.

Lorient is commonly referred to as "the five port city" (military, fishing, commercial, passengers and yachting).[23] In 2010, the sector represented 9,600 direct jobs for a total 12,000 jobs (with indirect jobs accounted for), or 12% of local employment.[24]


Soy being unloaded at Kergroise port
Ongoing building of Horizon-class frigate Forbin at DCNS shipyard in 2006


In 2008, 2.71% of the children attended the bilingual schools in primary education.[22]

The municipality launched a linguistic plan through Ya d'ar brezhoneg on 25 January 2007.

Breton language

In 2009, Lorient had a population of 57,812.[18] In 2008, its intercommunality had 191,716 inhabitants.[19] Lorient is the most populous commune in Morbihan département, although the préfecture is the slightly smaller commune of Vannes.
Inhabitants of Lorient are called Lorientais.


Climate data for Lann-Bihoué Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.3
Average high °C (°F) 8.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 6
Average low °C (°F) 3.2
Record low °C (°F) −13.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 106.5
Average relative humidity (%) 88 85 82 79 81 80 80 81 84 87 87 88 83.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 76.6 103.4 148 200.9 227.2 248.9 270.2 243.9 190.6 143.3 93.4 73.2 2,019.6
Source: [17]

Under the Köppen climate classification, Lorient experiences an oceanic climate (Cfb), with mild winters and cool to warm summers. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year. Frost is rare in winter, as are days over 30 °C (86 °F) during summer.


Adjacent towns: The city comprises different neighbourhoods:

Lorient is located on the south coast of Brittany, where the Scorff river and the Blavet river join to form the roadstead of Lorient, before discharging into the Atlantic Ocean. To the south of the city, the Ter river used to flow into the estuary as well, but a dam was built in 1967, so it is now a pond. The city is 503 kilometres (313 mi) south-west of Paris, 153 kilometres (95 mi) south-west of Rennes and 158 kilometres (98 mi) north-west of Nantes.

Map of Lorient



The transition period lasted from 10 to 40 years depending on the location. The last shack in the largest of them, Soye, was torn down in 1991. Today, only a few buildings dating back to the 18th century still stand.

In April 1945, the Reconstruction Ministry advocated the use of temporary wooden shacks. These shelters were shipped as a kit to be built on site. In 1948, there were 28 settlements under the city's authority, and 20 more in the urban area, distributed among Ploemeur, Lanester, Hennebont and Quéven. Each of these neighbourhoods could hold up to 280 houses.

Lorient city hall


On May 10, 1945, the German garrison surrendered. In 1949, the city of Lorient was awarded the Legion of Honour and the Croix de guerre 1939-1945.

In 1943–1944, Lorient was nearly razed to the ground by Allied bombing, which failed to destroy the submarine pens, despite 4,000 tons of bombs dropped.[16]

In 1941, the Germans, then occupying France, chose to establish one of their U-boat headquarters in Keroman, a neighborhood of Lorient. But the submarines quickly became targets of constant bombing from Allied air forces. The Germans decided to build the largest U-boat base in Keroman, which would house the 2nd and the 10th U-boat flotillas for the bulk of the Battle of the Atlantic. Karl Dönitz, then supreme commander of the U-boat Arm, moved his staff in the Kernevel villa, just across the water from Keroman, in Larmor-Plage.

World War II

In 1889, fishing expanded following the creation of the municipal fish market,[15] and the arrival of steam-powered fishing trawlers in 1900. The Keroman fishing port construction started in 1920.

In the second half of the 19th century, the steam engine allowed the ports to strengthen their output.[13] The first locomotive reached the city in 1865.[14] In 1861, the original drydock was enlarged as a second one was dug out. The same year, the ironclad Couronne was built on a design directly inspired by the Gloire ship class, though unlike her wooden-hull predecessors, she was entirely made of iron. She was followed in 1876 by the ironclad Redoutable, the first ship in the world with a steel structure.

The city began to modernize in the second quarter of the century: in 1825, a roofed slipway and a drydock were added to the shipyards.[12] A sardine cannery[14] opened the same year. The first gasworks was built in 1845.[15]

Maritime activities slowed at the start of the 19th century, the shipyards and the naval base reached a low that would last until the July Monarchy. During this period, the city was more of an administrative center.[12] The first secondary school opened in 1822, a lazaretto in 1823, and barracks in 1839.[13]

Cours de la Bôve (1907)
The Harbor at Lorient, 1869 painting by Berthe Morisot.

19th century to the beginning of the 20th century

The French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic wars put an end to trade for nearly two decades.[11]

In 1769, the city evolved into a full-scale naval base for the Royal Navy when the King bought out the Company's infrastructures for 17,500,000 livres tournois.[8] From 1775 on, the American revolutionary war brought a surge in activity, as many privateers hailed from Lorient. When the war ended, transatlantic lines opened to the United States, and in 1785, a new commercial company started under Calonne's tutelage (then Controller-General of Finances) with the same goal as the previous entities, i.e. conducting trade in India and China, with again Lorient standing as its operative base.[10]

Up until Company's closure, the city took advantage of its prosperity. In 1738, there were 14,000 inhabitants, or 20,000 considering the outlying villages of Kerentrech, Merville, La Perrière, Calvin, and Keryado, which are now neighbourhoods comprised in the present-day city limits. In 1735, new streets were laid down and in 1738, it was granted city status. Further work was undertaken as the streets began to be paved, wharfs and slipways were built along the Faouédic river, and thatched houses were replaced with stone buildings following 18th-century classical architecture style as it was the case for l'Enclos.[7] In 1744, the city walls were erected, and proved quickly useful as Lorient was raided in September 1746.[9] Following the demise of the Company, the city lost one-seventh of its population.[10]

The town experienced a period of growth when John Law formed the Perpetual Company of the Indies by absorbing other chartered companies (including the French East India Company), and chose Lorient as its operative base. Despite the economic bubble caused by the Company in 1720, the city was still growing[5] as it took part in the Atlantic triangular slave trade. From 1720 to 1790, 156 ships deported an estimated 43,000 slaves.[6] In 1732, the Company decided to transfer its sales headquarters from Nantes to Lorient, and asked architect Jacques Gabriel to raise new buildings out of dimension stones to host these new activities, and to embellish the L'Enclos domain.[5] Sales began in 1734, peaking up to 25 million livres tournois.[7] In 1769, the Company's monopoly ended with the scrapping of the company itself, under the influence of the physiocrats.[8]

L'Enclos at the end of the 18th century

Growth under the Company of the Indies

The French Royal Navy opened a base there in 1690, under the command of Colbert de Seignelay, who inherited his father's position as Secretary of State of the Navy. At the same time, privateers from Saint-Malo took shelter there.[3] In 1700, the town grew out of l'Enclot following a law forcing people to leave the domain to move to the Faouédic heath. In 1702, there were about 6,000 inhabitants in Lorient, though activities slowed, and the town began to decline[4]


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