Château de Turpault

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Quiberon is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in western France.

It is situated on the southern part of the Quiberon peninsula, the northern part being the commune of Saint-Pierre-Quiberon. It is primarily known as a seaside resort for French tourists during summer, and for its history of sardine production.

History

During the Seven Years’ War the bay was the site of the Battle of Quiberon Bay between the French and British fleets. In the French Revolution, in July 1795 Quiberon was used by French Royalist exiles, with assistance from the British, as the base for a failed invasion of Brittany (traditionally a royalist area). The invasion was defeated by the Revolutionaries under General Lazare Hoche.

In the 19th century, Nicolas Appert, a chemist, developed a technique that permitted the sterilization of food. Thanks to this process, Quiberon became the leading harbour for sardine fishing and the production of canned sardines in France. Many families from the Finistère département migrated to Quiberon for the fishing season (May to October). When the men put out to sea, the women worked in the sardine can factories.

The railway between Auray and Quiberon was inaugurated in 1882. It deeply changed Quiberon’s way of life. Fishing, canning and the exploitation of seaweed has been replaced by tourism. At that time, some famous people went to Quiberon for a stay, including the writers Gustave Flaubert and Anatole France, and the actress Sarah Bernhardt. The year 1924 was important for the peninsula because it was classified as health resort. Now, the main resources for Quiberon come from tourism.

During the Second World War, Fort de Penthièvre at the narrow isthmus (see photo) was occupied by the Germans and incorporated into the Atlantic Wall. It housed various blockhouses, but was mainly used by the infantry. In July 1944, 59 resistance fighters were tortured and buried alive there. A Cross of Lorraine mounted on a stone pillar, with a plaque listing the names of the fighters stands there in memory of them. Although the fort is still of military importance (as a training base), a gallery (tunnel) where the bodies were discovered can be visited.

 

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