The Walled Town Of Vannes, France – An Immersion In The Rich History

things to do in vannes france
| 4 min read

Situated in the Gulf of Morbihan, in the southern part of Brittany, France, Vannes is undoubtedly the pride of Brittany with its 272 historic monuments, its magnificent old defenses surrounding nearly the whole city, and its picturesque timber houses dating back to the 14th and the 15th-centuries. There are countless reasons to visit Vannes. This is a destination with fascinating history, world-class culture, exceptional natural beauty, and wonderful people. There are a number of things to do in Vannes. Therefore, for a fantastic vacation, go ahead and check the ideal locations to visit in Vannes, which has a population of 54,020.

1. Ramparts de Vannes

Jardins des Remparts de Vannes
Source: Photo by user Chelmsfordblue used under CC BY 2.0

The medieval old town has preserved its architectural richness, including beautiful 13th-century ramparts. Roaming around the well-preserved medieval streets of Vannes is indeed a feast for the eyes. Dating back to the 1st-century, the Romans built this town. After many expansions and modifications over the centuries, the government decided to protect this site in 1911. Today, Vannes Ramparts have a very strong impact on the city of Vannes since they are the remnant fortifications in Brittany.

Old City Walls of Vannes

Address: 4 Rue des Vierges, 56000 Vannes, France

Opening Hours: Open 24 hours

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2. Saint-Vincent Gate

Porte Saint-Vincent (Vannes) (2)
Source: Photo by user Julien1978 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Another great stop is Saint-Vincent Gate. The main southern access to the walled city, it is through this entryway. The reason it has a less medieval look than the remainder of Vannes’ defenses is because the gap between the walls was created at the end of the 1500s, to permit quick access to the port, which had been reconfigured to approach the city.

Porte Saint Vincent

Address: 1 Place Gambetta, 56000 Vannes, France

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3. Castle of the Hermine

Source: Photo by user Francisco Antunes used under CC BY 2.0

Outside the town walls to the East is the beautiful Castle of the Hermine, which was once the home of the Dukes of Brittany from the 13th to the 15th-century. The castle we see now is from the 17th-century, which is a replacement of the older much more formidable castle. It is now an exhibition space with pretty gardens. In May you can take advantage of Vannes’ tradition at “the Photo de Mer exhibition,” held in the sweet formal gardens on the bank of the Marle.

Château de l'Hermine

Address: 5 Rue Porte Poterne, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact: +33 825135610

Website: Château de l'Hermine

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4. Museum of History and Archeology

Callais Neolithique Musée Vannes 19082012 03
Source: Photo by user Vassil used under CC0

Vannes has two museums: the Gaillard Castle and La Cohue. The Gaillard Castle is a 15th-century mansion house and accommodates the museum of archaeology and the town’s history. This museum is a reflection of the city’s rich architecture and history. You’re standing in front of what was the location of the Breton parliament until 1535. Tourists will be awed by the wide selection of vintage treasures. From the prehistoric artifacts recovered from the megaliths near Vannes, jewelry, polished axes and pottery to the Cabinet of the Fathers of the Desert, with 66 wooden panels painted in the 17th-century.


Address: 2 Rue Noé, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact: +33 297016300

Website: Château-Gaillard

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5. La Cohue - Museum of Fine Arts of Vannes

Vannes Cohue
Source: Photo by user Fab5669 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

La Cohue, a 13th-century covered market that hosted the Breton Parliament from 1675 to 1689, is now a museum of fine arts. The oldest portion of the building is from the 12th-century, and for a considerable length of time, the ground floor was Vannes’ marketplace. There are some charming temporary contemporary art displays on the upper floor and a concise permanent show that exhibits Delacroix and Monet’s works.

La Cohue - Musée des Beaux Arts de Vannes

Address: 15 Place Saint-Pierre, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact: +33 297016300

Opening Hours: from 1:30pm to 6pm (except Mondays)

Website: La Cohue

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6. Vannes Cathedral

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Vannes
Source: Photo by user A455bcd9 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Vannes Cathedral or Saint-Pierre Cathedral was built between the 13th and the 18th-centuries. This charming cathedral is well worth a visit. Vannes Cathedral is built from granite with a combination of styles, from Romanesque, Gothic, and Italian Renaissance to Neo-Gothic elements.

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Vannes

Address: 22 Rue des Chanoines, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact +33 297471088

Website: Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Vannes

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7. Port of Vannes

Port de Vannes quai Eric Tabarly
Source: Photo by user Myrabella used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Sailboats are moored for almost the whole length of the port, and there are a couple to pay special mind to: “Le Corbeau des Mers”, a lobster-catching loop from 1931, and “Les Trois Frères”, an uncommon fishing vessel built in 1941 and called “Sinagot”, the remnant of its kind.

Port of Vannes

Address: Quai Bernard Moitessier, Vannes

Website: Port of Vannes

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8. Gulf of Morbihan

Golfe du Morbihan - 1
Source: Photo by user Nono vlf used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Looking for a new vacation destination? The Gulf of Morbihan, where there’s an archipelago of 42 islands, is one of nature’s gifts to mankind. The “Parc du Golfe” is about a mile (1.6 km) south of the town center and it is here that you can go on boat trips around the Gulf of Morbihan. The Gulf of Morbihan is the ideal destination for beach lovers. It offers a grandiose view of the sea, with its crystal clear waters and welcoming ambiance. Also, it is perfect for bike rides and treks to island-hopping cruises.

Gulf of Morbihan

Website: Gulf of Morbihan

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9. Vannes Aquarium

Raie bouclée Raja clavata Vannes 20082012 2
Source: Photo by user Vassil used under CC0

Vannes Aquarium is a few minutes southwest of the walled city. It has a huge collection of tropical fish, seahorse, and cuttlefish. Strangely enough, you can watch “Eleanore,” a Nile crocodile which was captured in Paris sewers in 1984. She is more than three meters (10 foot) long and weighs 250 kilos (551 lb.).

Vannes Aquarium

Address: 21 Rue Daniel Gilard, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact: +33 297406740

Website: Vannes Aquarium

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10. The Butterfly Garden

Butterfly at Le Jardin aux Papillons, Vannes
Source: Photo by user Andy Hay used under CC BY 2.0

The Butterfly Garden or “Jardin aux Papillons,” is an amazing little butterfly paradise. It is a glass dome filled with a huge variety of plants where of hundreds of butterflies fly free. Children will stroll around and enjoy the visit after learning about the life cycle of the butterfly. It’s well worth a visit, especially when you know that it is located just beside the aquarium.

The Butterfly Garden

Address: 18 Rue Daniel Gilard, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact: +33 297406740

Opening Hours: from 11am to 5:30pm

Website: The Butterfly Garden

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11. Casino of Vannes

Opened on June 17, 2015, the Casino de Vannes is set temporarily on the premises of the Gulf Park. It is open each day of the year from 10 am to 3 am in the morning. On the games side, the casino provides a room hosting 120 slot machines and five game tables (poker, blackjack, and roulette).

Casino de Vannes

Address: 3 Rue Gilles Gahinet, 56000 Vannes, France

Contact +33 297675777

Opening Hours: From 10 am to 3 am

Website: Casino de Vannes

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Nearby attraction

12. The Ramparts Garden – Châteaubriant Castle

Galerie chateau chateaubriant
Source: Photo by user Oie blanche used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Vannes is beautiful, but it also has neighbours who offer lovely experiences. If you are keen on a quick drive from Vannes, you can make your way to The Ramparts Garden – Châteaubriant Castle in Châteaubriant. It should take nearly 2 hours’ drive to reach this attraction via N165. You will be awed by the ancestral gardens that embed the three towers, Connétable Tower, Poudrière Tower and Joliette Tower. These towers were all built in a charming formal parterre with geometric yards, flowerbeds, and exact topiaries.

The Ramparts Garden – Châteaubriant Castle

Address: Place du General Charles de Gaulle, 44110 Châteaubriant, France

Website: The Ramparts Garden – Châteaubriant Castle

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Vibrant Vannes

So what are you waiting for? Do it now even with a tight budget and have the most wonderful vacation. Go on and indulge yourself. Explore the world. Vannes is really worth recommending.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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