The Ramparts of Vannes !!!

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 writing again on the ramparts of the old town a wonderful place to visit while in Vannes, I say a must. And see my other posts on the ramparts of Vannes!

The first enclosure of Vannes (ramparts) was built in the 3C, the small ancient Roman town, then called Daroritum protected itself behind its walls from the Germanic threat. It was on the hill of Mené, surrounded by swamps, that the town found the best site to fortify. The ancient enclosure surrounds about 5 hectares. The perimeter of these first ramparts was less than 1 km. The Château de la Motte (the castle is partially demolished in 1867 and this will allow the construction of a new street to the train station, the rue Billault) was built on the northern wall between the 5C and 6C. Throughout history, it was successively the home of the counts of Vannes and then of the kings and dukes of Brittany. In the 12C, the ramparts underwent major repairs because they were badly damaged during the repeated assaults of the Plantagenets. In the 13C, the Château de la Motte was partly destroyed by an earthquake and ceded to the bishop of the town. Restored, it will become the episcopal mansion of La Motte. It will be necessary to wait until the 14C for the ancient walls of Vannes to be enlarged ; the walled city then integrates the southern suburbs to go from 5 to 13 hectares. Duke Jean IV of Brittany had the Château de l’Hermine (see post) built at the same time. Despite the integration of Brittany into the Kingdom of France during the 16C, the ramparts of Vannes continued to be maintained until the 17C. They were even reinforced during the religious wars of the 16C and then during the first decades of the 17C, because Vannes remained a city in a strategic geographical position for the kingdom. At the end of the 17C, the search for circulation is privileged, and two additional gates are pierced in the ramparts.

Vannes ramparts walls of Vannes Aug12

The ramparts of Vannes remain, despite these late destructions, among the best preserved in Brittany; more than three quarters of the fortified enclosure still remains. A policy of conservation and enhancement of the city’s ramparts and gates has been in place since the beginning of the 20C. The entire eastern part of the ramparts is enhanced by a pleasant French landscaped public garden. The Jardin des Remparts (see post) is a must when visiting Vannes. Indeed, this French-style garden , open since the 1950s, largely contributes to the enhancement of the fortified heritage of the city. Each year, 30,000 flowers would be needed to decorate the garden of the ramparts, You can see a wonderful carrousel here by the Avenue de Lattre de Tassigny.

vannes courtine de la juliette to garenne garden and tour connetable dec19

vannes old carrousel tour connetable back dec11

For several centuries, the layout of the ramparts remained the same. Five gates then give access to the intramural, these were Saint-Patern, but also Saint-Jean, du Bali, Saint-Salomon, and Mariolle. Then, from 1370 to 1395, the enclosure was extended to the south by decision of Duke Jean IV. In particular, he planned the expansion and construction of the Château de l’Hermine. The work ended with the construction of the western walls near the Cordeliers convent. The new enclosure opens to the south of two gates, the Calmont and Gréguennic. Later, around the middle of the 15C, the enclosure was equipped with towers such as the Tower of the Executioner, but also the Powder Tower, and the Joliette Tower. Then, at the time of the wars of religion, the city reinforced its enclosure with several bastions: Gréguennic, Brozillay, Haute-Folie then La Garenne. At the same time, the future Saint-Vincent gate was created. This additional opening to the south is strategic, it makes it possible to serve the port district. Then, the city evolves again with in particular the installation of the Parliament of Brittany between 1675 and 1689. As a result, from 1650 to the French revolution, new developments are planned. Poterne gate, but also Saint-Jean gate , as well as a restoration of the Saint-Vincent gate. It was also during this period that certain parts of the ramparts were considered obsolete. Thus, the moats are filled in and the fragmented fortifications are broken up to be sold to individuals. At the end of the 18C and during the 19C, some sections of walls and doors were demolished, (look up several of these gates in my posts).


A walk around the fortified city allows you to discover many magnificently preserved elements: the Constable’s tower , first half of the 15C, originally, the tower was to serve as accommodation for the constable, commander of the armies of the Duke of Brittany , the Hermine castle or Lagorce hotel,located between the port and the garden of the ramparts, the castle is integrated into the ramparts which border the closed city. This vast building built at the end of the 18C is at the heart of a new cultural project.The tower and the prison gate, the Garenne spur, the bastions of Haute -Folie and Gréguennic, or the Poudrière, Joliette, Bourreau and Saint-Vincent towers. The lavoirs or washhouses of La Garenne are a former public washhouse , Le Marle, “the river of Vannes” ensures its water supply before mixing with the waters of the gulf. In the heyday, the washerwomen used to come here to wash their clothes. (again look up my posts on many of these).


The Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on the jardin des remparts of Vannes:

The Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on things to do/see in Vannes:

The city of Vannes on its ramparts walls:

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!!!

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