Visit Vannes (Brittany, France)
Vannes is found on the southern coast of Brittany, and is a sizeable town - and also the capital of Morbihan.
The town of Vannes is one of the unmissable highlights of a visit to Morbihan. There is a great deal to discover in this fascinating and attractive historical town, so allow plenty of time to explore properly.
Start your visit perhaps at the port, in the south of Vannes. Newly renovated this is an extensive harbour full of boats with a long walkway that follows along the sides.
This walkway continues on into planted avenues of trees - and if you are feeling energetic it continues for several kilometres until it reaches the popular port and peninsula at Conleau (also recommended). The Vannes Tourist Office is also situated along this harbourside walkway.
From here you can enter the old town through the medieval gate at the northern end of the harbour. There are some very attractive streets of to explore, with numerous colombage (half-timbered) houses, making it one of the prettiest towns in Brittany.
Constructed largely in the 16th century, the old town is a pleasure to explore with something new to admire around every corner. (We could question the historical authenticity of the brightly painted 15th century houses but they are so pretty we won't let ourselves be distracted by historical inaccuracies...)
Several of the houses also feature old wooden carvings and other features - the best know of these is a carving of a man and woman known as 'Vannes and his wife'. The ground floors of the houses contain an extensive selection of shops, boutiques and cafes.
Leave the old town for a while by the north-west corner to see several more recent 'important' buildings including the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), the 16th century townhouse called the Hotel de Limur; and a very impressive College (just right of the Town Hall).
Re-entering the old town but this time keeping to the east, head next towards Vannes cathedral. The cathedral is an interesting mix of architectural styles and a particular highlight is the Chapel of Thomas Ferrier, built in the 16th century but beautifully light and airy.
The Museum of Fine Arts is directly opposite the cathedral and contains an interesting collection of art from Delacroix to modern contemporary works.
If you keep walking towards the east behind the cathedral and along the Rue Porte Prison you will find another of the original gateways into the town at Porte Prison. From here you can follow the road outside the original ramparts that once protected medieval Vannes.
The walls are very impressive in themselves, and further enhanced by the gardens below the walls and further extensive formal and informal gardens running up the hill behind the prefecture (road opposite the Porte prison).
Follow the ramparts and little river to see the sturdy tower in the walls (the Tour de Connetable de Richemont) then soon you will reach pretty little buildings next to the river which are the original lavoirs (washhouses) for Vannes.
Places to visit near Vannes
As we mentioned, the port at Conleau is a worthy side excursion. If the crowds in Vannes become a bit too much, set off for the port, then take a boat trip around the islands of the Morbihan Gulf, or perhaps visit the Ile-aux-Moines or the Ile d'Arz. As your boat carries you around the little islands you see all kinds of neolithic ruins and standing stones, many in the process of becoming submerged by the rising seas. Fascinating.
Another island well worth taking a boat trip to is Gavrinis, famous for its neolithic monument - in this case a chamber, where you can still see decorative carvings on many of the rocks.
The Rhuys Peninsula, heading towards Arzon and Port de Crouesty just south of Vannes is interesting because it is warm enough from gulf stream currents to grow figs and pomegranates, vineyards and bougainvillea (the last is incredible - these don't survive in south-west France).
While you are on the peninsula, you should also take the time to visit the Chateau de Suscinio, a fine 14th century moated chateau, to follow the coastal paths a little (see the individual place guides), and of course to spend some time on one of the many fine sandy beaches.
Photos of Vannes
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Vannes
Vannes has received the following tourist classifications: listed town of Art and History ; historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*;
Address: Vannes, Morbihan, Brittany, 56000 || GPS: latitude 47.654, longitude -2.759
Map of Vannes & places nearby
Highlights close by
Morbihan Gulf 7km
Ile aux Moines 9km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Vannes, France
- Aquarium de Vannes - aquarium (2km)
- Golfe du Morbihan - site of natural beauty (7km)
- Elven - village d'etape (15km)
- La Vraie-Croix - ville fleurie 4* (16km)
- Megaliths of Locmariaquer - national monument (17km)
- Carnac - most beautiful village (25km)
- Megalithic site of Carnac - national monument (25km)
- Jardins de Kerambar’h - remarkable garden (26km)
- Parc zoologique du château de Branféré - zoo or wildlife park (28km)
- Rochefort-en-Terre - ville fleurie 4* (32km)
Market days in Vannes: Regular market(s) are held in Vannes each Wednesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Vannes (Francais)