At the number 8 of the quai Benjamin-Franklin, there’s a plaque saying that the famous Benjamin Franklin was hosted here on December 4th 1776. An American in Auray!
Yes, he went to Versailles to negotiate an alliance treaty with king Louis XVI, while the Independence war raging in America… His boat, the Reprisal, had to call at Nantes but a sudden storm stopped them from sailing up the river Loire. So they had to stop in Auray.
Ben landed in the small Breton harbour, so tired, with his grandsons William Franklin and Benjamin Bache. And the rumour propagated, saying he was in France! Meanwhile our American bought a horse and an old carriage: then he quickly went to Vannes and ended his journey… towards Paris!
The first quays of the Auray harbour were raised in the 14th century, but the site of the current harbour was completed in 1641. Its golden age was between the 16th and the 17th century, with trade of wines, salt and cereals.
Auray became at that time the 3d Breton commercial port and the first shipbuilding harbour in the 18th century! But with the creation of the West India Company and the foundation of Lorient harbour, bye bye prosperity…