Walking the cobbled streets of Vannes

Posted by Anita Froneman on 24 November 2021

By Mariette Adams 

On my recent trip to France, I spent some time in Vannes, exploring the magnificent buildings of this historic walled town. Situated in the Gulf Morbihan, on the southern coast of Brittany, Vannes offers interesting contrasts of old and new. Here’s Vannes in a nutshell.

Picture: Flickr Commons

Historic sights

The long history of Vannes is reflected in its Medieval lanes and architecture, whether it be the beautiful 13th-century ramparts, the historic timber-framed houses or the Saint-Pierre cathedral built between the 13th and 18th centuries.

Picture: Jean-Phi92/Flickr

The magnificent Cathédrale de St Pierre cathedral, with its beautiful facade, is an interesting mix of architectural styles. Originally constructed in 1020, but with a Gothic church later constructed on the same site from the 15th to 19th centuries, this Roman Catholic basilica is the seat of the Bishop of Vannes. It is free to enter, and you can explore and admire the various chapels and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Other noteworthy must-sees are the Butterfly House and the aquarium, the Chateau Gaillard and La Cohue museums and the picturesque harbour.

Fine dining

There are more than a few great eateries in and around the town, from a fish market to Michelin-star establishments.

Among them is Creperie St Guenhael (where I had a wonderful dinner experience on my first night in the city), A L’aise Breizh Café (situated on the harbour’s left bank, where I enjoyed a hearty lunch) and L’Atlantique (where I was fed the most exceptional cuisine of my entire trip).

These restaurants are in the city centre and all worth a detour for a quick lunch and/or dinner if ever you are in the Gulf Morbihan area.

The Gulf of Morbihan

On my final day, I had the pleasure of going on an island discovery cruise in the Gulf of Morbihan. A 25km stretch from the open sea, the Gulf of Morbihan is an inland little sea composed of 12 000 hectares of Atlantic sea sheltered from swell.

Picture: Olivier Ffrench

Legend says that there are as many islands in the Gulf as there are days of the year, but factually the gulf has about 40, depending on the tides. Many islands are private property, except the largest two, Île-aux-Moines and Île-d’Arz. It was a magical experience, made even better by the skipper and tour guide Vivien Joulet, who pointed out the best spots to me.

If you’re looking for something to do ashore, there is a regular market on Saturdays. Filled with stalls selling just about anything you can think of, there’s a bustling and a vibrancy to the town on a market day like no other


Hotel Escale Oceania is a sight to behold. Unlike the same hotel group’s facility in Nantes, this one is more modern in terms of interior design and decoration.

Picture: Hotel Escale Oceania

Picture: Hotel Escale Oceania

I give this place an A-grade rating on service alone. A+ when the luxurious room and the scrumptious meals – which I thoroughly enjoyed – are added.

With the Rugby World Cup 2023 taking place in France, I’d highly recommend this hotel if you are touring in the Morbihan area.

Pictures: Mariette Adams


Bon voyage! The best of Nantes on an e-bike

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