I recently visited the medieval city of Vannes in Brittany, France, a picturesque place with half timbered houses and old narrow lanes around the Cathedral. It’s pretty busy in high season, so the best plan is to park your car and then look around on foot, or take the little tourist train around for a mini sightseeing tour.
Vannes is the city at the heart of the Gulf of Morbihan, a sheltered inland Gulf with a mild climate and protected waters that make it ideal for sailing. The waterway stretches right up to the old town and there are plenty of sailing boats bobbing in the marina right below the city walls. Beneath the ramparts there are formal gardens laid out in carefully chosen colour themes, where you can walk by and see the old city public laundry house beside the shallow stream.
Vannes is a starting point for the many boat trips to the islands in the Gulf of Morbihan, which make an ideal day trip to somewhere a little less crowded than the main Brittany beaches. We visited the island of Houat, which has practically no cars and beautiful beaches which you can get to from the many footpaths that criss-cross the island. Other popular day trips are to Ile aux Moines and Ile d’Arz in the Gulf itself. If you want a bit of sea air but don’t have time for a boat trip then take the bus to Conleau on the outskirts of Vannes, where there are some pine woods to picnic in and a swimming lake, marina and a hotel and cafe.
If you’re touring through Brittany this part of the coast is definitely worth a few days exploration.
Photos by Heatheronhertravels