“ City: Vannes / Country: France / Country Region: Bretagne / World Region: Europe „
If you are visiting Brittany and wish to capture a flavour of the region, then you should visit Vannes on the southern coast.
This delightful port is a regional centre, located at the top of a large inlet from the sea. As a result, there is a large marina there, and LOTS of sea food in the restaurants, shops and the market.
The main market is on a Saturday, and like most French markets starts early. The number of stalls is huge, and it has TWO covered halls - one being exclusively for fish. The fish hall creaks with the sound of thousands of live shell fish from shrimps to lobsters, mussels to scallops, as well as a huge variety of fresh fish.
Outside there are lots of stalls selling cooked food ready to eat, as well as fresh and imported fruit and vegetables. Most encourage you to try before you buy. There is a slightly smaller market on a Wednesday, which has fewer stalls, but is worth a look if you can make no other.
As a tourist destination, Vannes has many cafes, restaurants and bars, with food of all descriptions. The weather is usually hot enough in summer for you to want to eat/drink outside, but in winter it can be bitterly cold too, or simply wet. However, in 15 years, I have never been disappointed with a visit.
Shops sell lots of regional products, and there is a strong maritime influence in the clothing and gifts available.
The Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) shown in the Dooyoo picture is incorporated into the old walls of the town. In front of the walls are some attractive formal gardens, a public performance area and a river.
Situated alongside a bridge into one entrance, are the old houses and the LAVOIRE - community laundry area where in olden times, women used to take in washing, which was washed in a section of the river which could be dammed for the purpose!
Vannes has an aquarium, which my children enjoyed enormously, although I have seen better ones elsewhere in France. There is nowhere to swim from a beach unless you journey some way out of the town, where there are attractive coves and beaches if you know where to find them. Google earth will help you there!
Parking is available in several places at little or no cost, but is difficult to find. During the summer holidays the University car park is available, but you need to be early on market day - early start, early finish.
Beware of the French penchant for eating offal products. Chitterling and andouille sausage my not be to your taste! It pays to learn before you are tempted by the word sausage, just what goes into them.