The Porte Prison of Vannes!!

This is one of the nicest gates of old Vannes and one we come often by it, having parked by the ramparts below the ruins of the old castle . I have written several posts on the ramparts of Vannes and its famous towers; however, little on the porte Prison. Therefore, this is an all new text with older pictures to show you the Porte Prison of Vannes!!

It took the turn of the porte Prison or prison gate partially destroyed in 1886 and one of the oldest access to the town to make the people react to save the ramparts  and create and association in 1911 to do so. The work continues today, making it the key to the local heritage seen by tourists and locals alike; making the ramparts one of the rare urban fortifications still existing today in all of Bretagne/Brittany/Breizh.


The, one of, the reasons we come by here is to have an apéro in style at the Le Saint Nicolas resto right off of it, almost attach to it; lovely indeed! And I have written about this resto before in my blog too.

The story of this area of my capital city of Vannes is told by the fact that here the old Roman road crossing the castrum from West to East probably passed in the direct vicinity of the gate, supposed to allow access to the city from the 3-4C from the Saint-Patern suburb (now district of Vannes see post), then called Porte Saint-Patern in the Middle Ages ; which developed on the hill of Boismoreau. and where the ancient city stretched before it was withdrawn into the fortified enclosure. It is one of the oldest accesses to the walled city. An obligatory passage for merchants from Rennes and Nantes, As proof, the remains of the Gallo-Roman wall in place near the gate, rue Francis Decker and rue de la porte prison.

vannes porte prison rue de la porte prison dec19

A medieval building follows on from this passage through the ancient city. It was built in the 13C under Duke John II. This first campaign includes the gate itself and the front part of its passage closed by a harrow. The second campaign took place under Duke John IV, during the second half of the 14C. The door is fitted with a drawbridge, a postern for pedestrian passage and a large, low relief arch which surmounts them. The third campaign is attributed to Duke John V. It consists of the repair of the upper parts enhanced with machicolations on brackets forming pointed arches. According to ancient texts at that time, the gate was also reinforced by a barbican, an advanced defense making it possible to protect the entrances made more vulnerable by the progress of artillery fire. Under Duke François II or Duchess Anne of Brittany (also twice queen of France), one inserts between the grooves of the drawbridge, a shield carved with the arms of Brittany.

The fortified gate is commanded by a system of double drawbridges, one for the cart gate and one for the pedestrian crossing, Under the French revolution, the suspects and the condemned are locked up there: religious and refractory priests, including the blessed Pierre-René Rogue , or royalists, like the staff of the emigres who landed in Quiberon in 1795. The gate then took the name of Porte Prison. Plans were drawn up on this occasion in 1811. The second half of the 19C saw the alienation of the building to private owners who did not always have the means to maintain it. In 1886, the south tower was demolished with the exception of part of its ground floor and the exterior facing of its lower level which serves as support for the neighboring house.


The Porte Prison gate was bought by the city in 1934. The gate underwent several restorations: in 1972-1975, the roofs and interior fittings were redone; in 1985-1987, the south tower and the adjacent curtain wall were released in order to re-establish a path open in summer for walkers. The whole was the subject in 2010-2011 of a major restoration. Today we cross the Porte Prison in a straight line, which we could not have done in the 14-15C.

The city of Vannes on its heritage and porte prison

The Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on Vannes

The Bretagne/Brittany tourist board on Vannes

There you go folks, another dandy spot in my beautiful capital city of Vannes! And in my Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne, and in my belle France! You got it all covered, enjoy the Porte Prison and the ramparts as we do.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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