Morlaix was founded in the 10th century at the site of a Roman crossroads near a coastal river ford and achieved maritime importance in the 13th century. Located in the sheltered head of the estuary, the town’s port became an active commercial centre.
Products from the Léon and Trégor areas—linen, milled paper, wheat, butter, bacon, leather, horses, fish and cider— were traded alongside citrus fruit, spices, wine, salt and other exotic goods. Some merchants and privateers made a fortune from this trade.
The English, attracted by these riches, carried out a memorable raid in 1522. Following this, the people of Morlaix decided to build Château du Taureau to protect their town. When the linen trade began to decline after 1680, commercial raiding by privateers began to flourish once again.
The place where the two rivers meet at the port was covered over in 1728 to create a large paved area. Improvements to the port continued in the 18th century with the creation of the tobacco factory, which aimed to regenerate the town’s economic activity. Quays were built to strengthen the riverbanks and provide moorings for ships brought in along the towpaths.
The locks added in 1856 allowed boats to remain in the water while being loaded and unloaded.
The viaduct was built close to the shoreline in 1862. At the end of the 19th century, part of the harbour basin was covered over to build Place Cornic, a process that was repeated in 1962 with the creation of Place Charles de Gaulle.
Open to recreational boaters since 1978, the Port of Morlaix brought new life to the heart of the town.