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.

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

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, Brittany, Bretagne, France

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

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.

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

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.

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France
To the south-west of the historic old town is a small harbour and it is here that there are restaurants and bars set in a scenic location. If eating by the water doesn’t take your fancy, there are restaurants dotted all the way around the old town. My family and I eat at a restaurant located next door to a famous painted couple on the facade of a 16th century timber building at the corner of Rue du Bienheureux Pierre-René Rogue and Rue Noé. The two painted smiling figures are known as ‘Vannes and his wife’. I tried to research this carving but there seems to be no story, just a nice carving on a building. 

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

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. 

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France

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).

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France    

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France
In my short time here I really did enjoy my time here, a hidden gem of France I called it. As I said, I never even knew this town existed until the day before my visit. I am going to call it, this town is so much better to visit than places like Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick. That’s my own personal opinion. I loved walking up the down the hilly cobbled streets, talking to locals in the street and receiving a warm welcome everywhere I go. If you (the reader) get the chance to visit Vannes, then do it. It’s easy to get to by bike, train and car so there is no excuse really. What are you waiting for? 

Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France Vannes, Brittany, Bretagne, France