The tudor buildings of medieval Vannes
The town of Vannes has stood here for over 2,000 years and a lot has happened here and I could see that whilst walking around the place. I have to admit I never even heard of the place until my recent trip to the Brittany region and once I got a tip off that it was a medieval town with lots of tudor buildings, I just had to check it out. I wasn’t disappointed. I found the place to be better than some of the towns back home in England, places such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick and Market Drayton to name a few.
On my day trip here I checked out the old town where all the top places to see and do are located here. I drove here (as I was doing a road trip combined with a camping trip) and found parking easy on Rue Francis Decker (and rather cheap!). The road overlooks the medieval ramparts to which I have been told are the best in the region. This meant I spent a while walking around here checking out the gardens and a walk along the ‘Garenne’ which is a path that runs alongside the gardens and has scenic washhouses on the way.
Vannes (Gwened in the local Bretagne language) used to be the former residence of the Dukes of Brittany. I can see why, With its beautiful centre and 171 timbered houses, cobbled streets and views of the water nearby, I can understand why the Dukes choose this town (and built it up) to live in. They also had castles dotted about the area to which I explored Suscinio Castle. Read my experience here.
I managed to get a sneak peak inside Vannes Cathedral which is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Peter. The cathedral is presented in Gothic style and stands on the site of the former Romanesque cathedral. The construction took about 400 years, however combined with the previous cathedral, there was about 700 years of work done.
I managed to look into the history of the town and compared to other towns, there doesn’t seem to be much of it which is unusual. The town name ‘Vannes’ came from the Veneti, the Celtic seafaring people who lived in this region before the Roman came in and turned them into slaves. This part of Brittany before the Romans came had many ports and became a major stopping point for trading routes between Great Britain and the Middle East. Eventually the Gauls (which the locals were called during this period) were misplaced all over Brittany and parts of modern-day France. This didn’t help that loads of Britons from the island came over as they were fleeing from the Saxon invasions which were taking place at the same time.
The Romans soon went and the Gauls returned. They renamed the town Gwened (which is also a Breton name) and became a mini-kingdom. Eventually hundreds of years later, Vannes played an important role for the planned invasion of Britain by the French. A large army was staged there but never invaded Britain because in another battle at the time, a lot of ships were destroyed. Then Brittany became part of France and then life was well (apart from the French Revolution and two World Wars) for the Vannetais (the name of the inhabitants of the city).