More than 300 years of transformation!


A destination in the making

A community of Capuchin friars settled in Recouvrance, which at the time was still an isolated and deserted district of the city of Brest, and obtained permission to build a convent there. The same year, the first stone was laid by Vauban, Marshal of France and military architect.
The Capucins district is born.


The Naval Era

The French Revolution and its endless struggle against the Church resulted in the dissolution of the religious community and thus the requisition of the Capucins. In 1791, a decree by the National Assembly conceded the land and buildings to the Navy, which ten years later used it as a barracks for gunners in training.


A cathedral of industry

During the industrial revolution of the 1840s, Les Ateliers des Capucins took shape and gave birth to this architectural wonder intended for the manufacture and repair of French Navy ships. The three large industrial naves of the ship building workshops rose and expanded until 1864. 150 meters long, they housed the foundry, metalworking, small and large machining, assembly, fitting, and electrical workshops necessary for the construction of propulsion machinery.


A city within the city

In 1878, nearly 1,800 workers were working at the Plateau des Capucins. Working conditions in the workshops were sometimes difficult. Noise and cold were compounded by stationary working positions as overhead cranes moved parts from one machine to another.

The average daily shift was 11 hours until the beginning of the 20th century when workdays were standardized at 8 hours. The workshops gradually integrated women, however they were not officially accepted until 1978.

Hall indus


During the Second World War, the workshops and 60% of the equipment was severely damaged by bombing and only the walls remained intact. The reconstruction respected the architecture of the 19th century but integrated reinforced concrete. The workshops continued to function during the reconstruction period, which was spread out over more than ten years. In 1947, Le Plateau de Queliverzan, which is immediately adjacent to Les Capucins, housed the Technical and Vocational Training School of the Brest Naval Yard and trained the “Arpètes (apprentices)” for several years.

Vue dans la rue

A page is turned

Until 2004, Les Ateliers des Capucins housed shipbuilding and repair work mainly for the French Navy and Naval Group (DCNS). It also supplied key components for the aircraft carriers Clemenceau (1957) and Charles-de-Gaulle (1987-1994) and the helicopter carrier Jeanne d’Arc (1959-1961). This was thanks to its broad range of more than 200 types of machine tools, some extremely large, where countless ship parts were machined with precision. During these years, the Navy gradually restructured itself to the Laninon site, leading to the end of industrial activities on the plateau in 2004… and thus freeing up 16 hectares in the heart of the city center.


A new future

A new chapter for Les Ateliers des Capucins begins. Brest Metropole, in partnership with the State, the Navy, the Région of Bretagne, the Department of Finistere, and the Caisse des Depots, initiates a project to redevelop and rehabilitate the plateau with the purpose of reviving the district. The aim is to create a cultural, economic, touristic, and recreational public space while preserving the industrial heritage.


Reconstruction work

Work officially begins in 2012 on developing the site with the completion of the tramway that connects Recouvrance to lower Siam. This will enable the new Capucins district to benefit from a fast connection to both the north and south ends of the city.


A new place of life

The adventure continues with the official opening of Les Ateliers des Capucins and the commissioning of the first urban cable car in France, connecting the plateau and lower Siam. The next steps continue in the following years, notably the Francois Mitterand - Les Capucins Media Library, the first companies for the Cap Vert building project, and the arrival of the first inhabitants and businesses.

Les Ateliers des Capucins has truly become a favorite destination and continues to grow every day! A story worth following...