Ringed by ramparts and commanding towers, Vannes was founded more than 2,000 years ago on Brittany’s Atlantic coast. Its cobblestone streets are lined with half-timbered houses and a striking Gothic cathedral while a picture-perfect parterre garden lies beside its ancient walls. Vannes is traversed by the Marle Stream, which has long served an important role in the daily life of the town and overlooks the island-dotted Gulf of Morbihan.
Things to do in Vannes
Wander through the atmospheric streets of Vannes and marvel at the fusion of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles in the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Vannes. Particularly charming are the colourful half-timbered residences of Place des Lices and the old wash houses that line the banks of the Marle Stream.
Vannes’ ancient walls are best appreciated from the Jardin des Remparts, a charming parterre that features landscaped flower beds, geometric lawns and meticulously kept topiaries. It’s an ideal location for photographing the Tour du Connétable, the Tour Poudrière and the Tour Joliette, offering elevated views of the garden from the latter tower.
Learn more about the region’s fascinating history at Musée d’Histoire et d’Archéologie. It’s housed within the Château Gaillard, a 16th-century landmark that served as the Breton parliament building until 1535. Step inside to admire the coffered ceilings and the 17th-century wood panels of the Cabinet des Pères du Désert, then browse neolithic artefacts such as pottery, weapons and jewellery.
Getting around Vannes
Vannes is around 1.5 hours’ drive from Nantes Atlantique Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Trains connect from Paris, Rennes and Nantes to the Vannes railway station while buses travel throughout the town itself. Cycling is a popular way of exploring Vannes, with several public bicycle rental stations available.