Baie de Quiberon
Map of Quiberon Bay
The bay is roughly triangular in shape, open to the south with the Gulf of Morbihan to the north-east and the narrow peninsula of Presqu'île de Quiberon providing protection from the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The islands of Belle-Île, Houat and Hœdic add to the bay's protection. There are many dangerous shoals at the entrance to the bay.
The bay has seen several important naval battles. The first recorded in history was the Battle of Morbihan in 56 BCE, between the Romans led by Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus and the local Veneti tribe. The Romans had struggled to overcome the Veneti, who had coastal fortresses that could easily be evacuated by their powerful navy. Eventually the Romans built galleys and met the Veneti sailing fleet in Quiberon Bay. Despite being outnumbered 220 to 100 by a fleet of heavier ships, the Romans used hooks on long poles to shred the halyards holding up the leather sails of the Veneti, leaving the Veneti fleet dead in the water and easily overcome.
The Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759 was one of Britain's greatest naval victories over the French. The British Admiral Sir Edward Hawke with 23 ships of the line caught up with a French fleet with 21 ships of the line under Marshal de Conflans seeking to embark an army at Quiberon for landings in Scotland. After hard fighting, most of the French fleet were sunk, captured or forced aground. The battle was a turning point in the Seven Years' War which foiled a planned invasion of Britain and broke the power of the French Navy for a generation.
In 1795, the bay was the scene of an invasion by émigré, counter-revolutionary troops in support of the Chouannerie and Vendée Revolt from 23 June. It aimed to raise the whole of western France in revolt, bring an end to the French Revolution and restore the French monarchy. This landing of the émigrés at Quiberon was finally repulsed on 21 July, dealing a disastrous blow to the royalist cause.
In World War II, the Allies planned to construct an artificial harbour in the bay to support the breakout from the Normandy beaches. Operation Chastity was never implemented because by the time the Allies had seized the Quiberon area, they had also captured Antwerp, a major port that was much closer to the front lines.
In the 19th century, Nicolas Appert, a chemist, tuned 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.
The area has since become a tourist destination popular for yachting, with marinas at Port Haliguen, Le Crouesty and La Trinité-sur-Mer.
- Quiberon - comune on the tip of the peninsula
- Saint-Pierre-Quiberon - comune at the north of the peninsula