© Alexandre Lamoureux

Vannes

Vannes the man
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Vannes

The walled town of Vannes is without doubt one of Brittany’s most attractive sights and a must-visit on any trip to the Gulf of Morbihan. Wander around the well-preserved medieval streets before enjoying a harbour-side lunch then taking a boat trip around the gulf. Kids will love the aquarium and butterflies.

Fit for a saint

The main gate into Vannes is the Porte St-Vincent Ferrier, named after the Spanish monk who died in the town in 1419 and became its patron saint; he is buried in St-Pierre cathedral. To the left and right of the gate are town houses: many of their ground floors have been turned into cafes and make a lovely location for lunch as they face the marina.

Mr and Mrs Vannes

Heading down Rue St-Vincent you’ll arrive at Place des Lices, which once hosted jousting tournaments but is now the venue of an open-air market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. In Place Valencia you’ll see a carving of a man and a woman on the corner of a half-timbered house – they are known as ‘Vannes and his wife’ and are a popular subject for tourist snappers.

Of archaeology and art

Vannes has two museums within its walls: the Château Gaillard, a 15th-century mansion house, accommodates the museum of archaeology and the town’s history while La Cohue, a 13th-century covered market that hosted the Breton Parliament from 1675-89, is now the museum of fine arts.

An eventful year

Outside the town walls to the east is the Château de l’Hermine, which was once the home of the Duke of Brittany but is now an exhibition space; its lovely public gardens host the Images de la Mer photography festival in May. Vannes has a full annual events calendar, which includes a jazz festival in August.

Fish, boats and butterflies

The Parc du Golfe is about a mile south of the town centre and it’s here that you join boat trips around the Gulf of Morbihan. This is also the place to head for with kids, as there’s an aquarium with a huge collection of tropical fish and the Jardin aux Papillons, a glass dome filled with vegetation where hundreds of butterflies fly free. Further south still is the Conleau Peninsula, where you’ll find Vannes’ only beach.

Did you know?

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, wood from Paimpont forest was shipped from Vannes to South

Main points of interest

  • The Vannes Ramparts walkway and gardens.
  • The historic Saint-Patern quarter and church (18th century)
  • The port area
  • The walled town: the half-timbered houses and mansions, the cathedral of Saint-Pierre and its rich furnishings, ‘La Cohue’ (a medieval hall housing the Museum of Fine Arts)
  • The museum of history and archaeology (Château-Gaillard)

Information & bookings

Vannes Golfe du Morbihan Tourist Office


Plan your holiday

Getting there

Getting to Vannes

Eurostar will get you to Paris from London in 2 hours 16 minutes, then, with 11 trains a day, Vannes is 2 hours 30 minutes from Paris by TGV, France’s inter-city high-speed rail service. There are regular connections with France’s major towns and cities.

Vannes is 450 km from Paris (5hrs) on the A11 ‘Océane’ motorway, and 110 km from Nantes and Rennes by dual carriageway. From the ferry ports, it is about 2 hours’ drive from St Malo and 2 hours 30 minutes from Roscoff.

For travellers on a budget, coach services are operated by Isilines, Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus, departing from many towns and cities.

Travelling in and around Vannes

Vannes is a great city to explore on foot, by bus or by bike. From the station to the city centre is a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride (service operated by Kiceo. Vélocéo self-service electric bikes can be rented by the day.

For the islands of the Gulf of Morbihan, the ferry terminal is 10 minutes by bus from the city centre.

Official website of tourism in Brittany