Satellite image of Ushant in 2003
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Denis Palluel|
|15.58 km2 (6.02 sq mi)|
|• Density||55/km2 (140/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||0–61 m (0–200 ft) |
(avg. 30 m or 98 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.|
Ushant (//; Breton: Eusa, pronounced [ˈøsa]; French: Ouessant, pronounced [wɛsɑ̃]) is a French island at the south-western end of the English Channel which marks the north-westernmost point of metropolitan France. It belongs to Brittany and is in the traditional region of Leon. Administratively, Ushant is a commune in the Finistère department. It is the only place in Brittany, except the name Brittany itself, with a separate name in English.
The island is ringed by several smaller islands, including Keller Island (Île de Keller) and Kadoran (Île Cadoran) to the north. The 200-meter (660 ft) channel between Ushant and Keller is called the Toull C'heller.
Ushant marks a southern limit of the Celtic Sea and the southern entrance to the western English Channel, the northern entrance being the Isles of Scilly, southwest of Land's End in Cornwall, England. Although it is sometimes considered an island in the English Channel, it does not form part of the Channel Islands. According to the definitions of the International Hydrographic Organization the island lies outside the English Channel and is in the Celtic Sea.
The island is a rocky landmass some 8 km (5.0 mi) by 3 km (1.9 mi) with a total area of 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi).
"We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar across the salt seas,
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England,
From Ushant to Scilly 'tis thirty-five leagues."
Several naval battles have been fought near Ushant between the British and French navies.
On 23 July, 1815, the captive Emperor Napoleon – carried on board HMS Bellerophon towards his final exile – spent several hours on deck watching Ushant, the last piece of French territory he would ever see.
According to an old Breton proverb, "Qui voit Molène voit sa peine / Qui voit Ouessant voit son sang / Qui voit Sein voit sa fin / Qui voit Groix voit sa croix." ("He who sees Molène sees his pains / He who sees Ushant sees his blood / He who sees Sein sees his end / He who sees Groix sees his cross"). This proverb is related to the area around the island, considered one of the most challenging to navigate in the world with its many rocks and more than ten knot tide streams.
There is only one significant community on the island: the village of Lambaol (Lampaul).
|Climate data for Ushant (1981–2010 averages, extremes 1995–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||15.1
|Average high °C (°F)||10.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.3
|Average low °C (°F)||6.5
|Record low °C (°F)||−2.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||91.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||15.5||11.7||11.8||11.1||9.1||8.1||8.5||8.9||9.0||13.2||16.7||15.5||139.1|
|Average snowy days||1.2||1.6||0.4||0.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.1||0.9||4.3|
|Source: Meteo France|
In 2007, Ushant hosted a Scottish book festival and subsequently created their own tartan; and in August 2010, the islanders were reported to be seeking to establish cultural links with a Scottish island. Rob Gibson, Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands welcomed the suggestion.
Ushant is connected to the French mainland by both air and sea. Passenger ferries of the Penn Ar Bed company operate from Brest and Le Conquet year-round, and also from Camaret in summer, stopping at the island of Molène en route. The airline Finistair operates flights on Cessna 208 planes from Brest Bretagne Airport.
The Ouessant sheep is a rare breed originating from Ushant. It is one of the northern European short-tailed sheep group of breeds, a type ubiquitous in northern Europe up to Roman times, but which now survives only in a few places. Apart from Ushant, these are remote islands and mountains of Britain and Scandinavia and some places around the Baltic Sea. The Ouessant is one of the smallest breeds of domestic sheep. It is usually black or dark brown (a few are white), and it is now kept elsewhere in the world as a heritage breed.
The isolation of the island has helped the conservation of the Apis mellifera mellifera dark bee, unaffected by pollution, pesticides and Varroa parasites. In the rest of France it has been substituted by Apis mellifera ligustica. As a side effect, the Braula coeca, that has elsewhere perished by the anti-Varroa treatments, can still be found among the Ushant bees. The association Conservatoire de l'Abeille Noire Bretonne tries to develop this bee race intending to reintroduce it in Western France.
"Lord Ushant" is the title given the heir to the Duchy of Tintagel (Cornwall) in Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers (1938).
Ushant is mentioned repeatedly in the works of Patrick O'Brian in reference to the maritime activities and position of various ships and characters in the series.
Ushant is one of the locations in the mystery Act of Mercy by Peter Tremayne. The book is set in 666 A.D.
Ushant is the setting of the 2004 French film L'Équipier (English title: The Light) directed by Philippe Lioret.
Father Truitard, a character in Bruce Chatwin's novel The Viceroy of Ouidah, spent "years communing with the waves and petrels on the island of Ushant".
It's also mentioned in Le Sang de la sirène (The Blood of the Siren, 1901) by Anatole Le Braz.
Ushant hands out annual Ouessant island literary prizes worldwide.
Yann Tiersen recorded his album, Eusa (2016). Every track is named after places of Ushant.
In a 1971 novella, 'Überfahrt. Eine Liebesgeschichte,' by East German writer Anna Seghers, Ushant is mentioned towards the end of an Atlantic sea crossing from Brazil to East Germany. A character quotes in German the proverb 'Whoever sees Ushant sees their blood.' English translation - 'Crossing: A Love Story' by Anna Seghers, translated by Douglas Irving (USA: Diálogos Books, 2016), p. 154
The 1910 novel Das Meer by German author Bernhard Kellermann takes place on the island of Ushant. Many features of the island, such as Phare du Creach and Port du Stiff are described in detail, while the main character stays at the la Villa des tempêtes, which is in ruins today.
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