Ramparts of Vannes: Porte de Calmont et Tour du Connétable!!!

So you know Vannes is my capital city and administrative center for us. It was as well for 9 years my place of work, just outside city limits, and we go there every week at least once! Therefore, I have written plenty about Vannes in my blog; but as often the case there are some missing parts.. I like to remedy that in addition of writing on the ramparts of the old town , do a bit more on the gates and towers that make up this rampart of Vannes.

So, then, le me tell you a bit more on the Porte de Calmont and the tour du Connétable or Calmont gate and Constable tower of Vannes!

The  tour du Connétable or Constable tower was built in the first half of the 15C, is a building integrated into the ramparts of Vannes in Morbihan. Despite its fortified appearance, resolutely turned towards the defense of the city, and although the tower has artillery casemates in the lower room, the initial destination of the Constable’s tower was to house the chief of the Duke of Brittany’s armies. . Its name therefore comes from its function, the most illustrious representative of which was Arthur III of Brittany known as “the Constable of Richemont”, Constable of France and Duke of Brittany. (see hôtel de ville post on his equestrian statue), The tower is located on the eastern side of the second enclosure of Vannes, south of the gun Powder Tower (see post) and north of the Garenne spur. At its feet is the Garenne public garden (see post) which stretches along the ramparts, a garden itself bordered by the Marle river.

Vannes Tour du Connetable from Pl des LIces mar21
The construction of the Constable’s tower dates from the extension of the enclosure towards the south undertaken during the reign of Duke Jean IV. The tower was sharpened in 1676 following the disappearance of the military interest of the fortifications. The town once again became the owner of the building in 1786 and used it for the confinement of mentally unstable people and girls of bad life. During the French revolution and the Chouannerie (rebel farmers vs revolution), like other monuments of the city, the tower was converted into a prison, in particular for the Breton nobles arrested in the affair of the landing of Quiberon (see post landing from England to fight vs revolution).

vannes connetable tower remparts et cathedral st pierre dec19

The Tour du Connétable has five levels as well as a poultry yard at street level on the intramural side. Part of this farmyard still exists. This is made up of several parts. The tower is rounded outwards and has canted sides inwards. An outgrowth of the inner face of the ramparts houses a spiral staircase. The entrances to the tower from inside the city (ground floor – first floor) are protected by machicolations. Access to the south curtain wall, which previously led to the Château de l’Hermine (see post), is from the exterior of the building’s first floor via a wooden platform; the second and third levels are lit by large windows.


The spiral staircase serves the last three levels with a double vertical circulation. From the rue des Remparts, a straight staircase and a door give access to the bottom of the stairwell. The two lower levels are independent of the last three. The first level is a vaulted vault, pierced with casemates for the artillery. Access to the two gunboats is via a narrow spiral staircase on which three polygonal rooms are the living quarters. On the west side of the tower, the second and third levels have a single flue fireplace the third level room is the most beautiful, notably with a monumental fireplace , Under the eaves, the fifth level has its own fireplace in the opposite the main fireplace. The roof of the tower, pointed, is dominated by the high chimney and flanked by the turret of the staircase and two dormers.

The city of Vannes on the Tour du Connétablehttps://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/histoire-et-patrimoine/qr-patrimoine/tour-du-connetable-en-detail/

The new enclosure undertaken at the end of the 14C by Jean IV includes two new gates to the south towards the port district one of these was the Porte de Calmont. The gate takes the name of the suburb it serves and which is the starting point towards the Rhuys peninsula following the coastal route via Séné and the passage of Saint-Armel.

Vannes porte calmont and tour jan14

This Calmont gate retains the traces of the closing system comprising two swing drawbridges: high grooves in the wall, above each door which retains the bridge arrows once raised. At the base of the two passages, we can see the holes that received the axes of the drawbridges. The development of this gate also includes on its left the construction of a tower which rose on three levels. Today it is clipped from its last level where, under the roof, was an upper room surrounded by a covered walkway resting on the consoles of the machicolation. The tower has a lower room (today backfilled) pierced a gunboat facing the port and a guard room with a fireplace and open from a second gunboat facing the castle of Hermine (see post). Two separate doors located in the alley give access to to these rooms. On the top of the curtain, on the right, we can still see the corbelets which, in the 16C, supported the guardhouse, in wood, built in corbel above the moat. Between 1616 and 1619, the gate received an advanced protection of which we can still distinguish some bases supporting the garden on the rue Alexandre Le Pontois side. It was condemned in 1625 in favor of the new Porte Saint-Vincent gate which opened on the harbor. The Porte de Calmont underwent a restoration in 1992 which allows  pedestrians to take it again on a footbridge which spans the Marle river, and which joins, thanks to the release of an alley, the rue Saint-Vincent. And right into old town of Vannes!

The city of Vannes on the porte de Calmonthttps://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/histoire-et-patrimoine/qr-patrimoine/porte-et-tour-de-calmont-en-detail/

There you go folks, two wonderful gates/towers along the beautiful ramparts of Vannes a must to visit when in town. Hope you enjoy this more detail post on the ramparts marvelous architectural/historical gems.

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

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: