Lorient, Or L'Orient, a seaport town of Brittany, France, in the department of Morbihan, on the bay of Biscay, at the mouth of the river Scorf, which is here joined by the Blavet, 266 m. W. S. W. of Paris, and 30 m. W. by N. of Vannes; pop. in 1872, 34,660. It has a dockyard with 16 building slips, connected with which are an arsenal, a school of naval artillery, artillery barracks, etc. The port is capacious and safe, lined by handsome quays, and surrounded by magnificent buildings, among which is a signal tower on an eminence S. of the harbor, from which vessels can be seen 30 m. out at sea. The trade and commerce, once of considerable importance, have greatly decayed. The exports are chiefly flour, wine, brandy, liqueurs, woollens, cottons, and hardware. The only manufacture of consequence is of hats. It is the seat of a maritime prefecture, has courts of commerce, a chamber of commerce and exchange, a school of hydrography, and a communal college. The origin of Lorient is due to the naval depot founded there in 1666 by the French East India company, which from this circumstance took the name of Port de l' Orient, " port of the East." The building of the town was commenced in 1720, and in 1744 it was fortified.
In 1770 it was made one of the four stations of the French navy, and a free port; but the revolution annihilated its commerce, and it has never been recovered.