Do you bear in mind when a metropolis used to really feel distinctive? One of many nice promoting factors of Vannes, in Morbihan, is that it nonetheless provides quirky boutiques and curious retailers that you simply gained’t discover wherever else.
Vannes is one in every of my favorite French cities, providing Brittany in a nutshell. It has a coastal location, a harbour, an abundance of historic buildings, some very spectacular ramparts and an entire host of bizarre, one-off spots to discover. Why would you go to an identikit city or a shopping center full of massive chains when you possibly can truly really feel that you’ve travelled and found someplace new?
Firstly, that is a straightforward metropolis to go to by practice, because the station is a straightforward stroll to the city, with lots to discover alongside the way in which. For instance, in case you observe the facet streets in direction of the centre through the district of Saint-Patern, you’ll go La Yamouna bookshop, whose vivid yellow frontage is difficult to overlook, not least due to the hampers of paperbacks outdoors. A fast peep by the doorway reveals rooms full of towers of books of each description: they fill the cabinets, they’re piled on tables they usually spill onto the ground, leaving solely a slender walkway to the rear of the store. It’s a heaven for rummaging and a nightmare for claustrophobia, however there’s all the pieces from historical leather-bound French tomes to fashionable English paperbacks. One other bonus is that the proprietor, Stéphane Roussel, lived close to Wolverhampton for some time so he may even reply book-related queries in English.
On the identical road (rue de la Fontaine) you’ll additionally discover L’Artwork est La Matière whose window shows counsel a gallery, however it’s a sale and exhibition house for native artists and craftspeople. Right here, you’ll discover all the pieces from large-scale metalwork sculptures to delicate handmade jewelry, bought straight by the individuals who created them.
There’s an analogous cooperative of artists nearer to the centre, on Place Gambetta by the harbour, referred to as Les Pipelettes, which is one other artists’ cooperative. The gallery-boutique is bursting with creations from intricate paper découpage paintings to ceramic homeware and handmade cloth baggage. The artists pay for an area to show their work and take turns staffing the store and welcoming clients. Not solely do these collaborative areas imply that you simply get an actual flavour of native creativity, they provide the probability to fulfill and chat with the artists and perceive the fervour for his or her work. Any such expertise is way extra private and memorable than merely shopping for a print from a global furnishings firm, and the cooperative method means costs are genuinely reasonably priced.
Whilst you’re by the fabulous harbour, you possibly can linger within the crescent of eating places or you possibly can pop to one of many smaller institutions on one in every of Vannes’ many facet streets. Close to the market halls on rue Porte Poterne, you’ll discover Derrière, a café-bar and restaurant that additionally has just a few out of doors seats which might be excellent for people-watching. Taken over by a brand new group this yr, the menu at Derrière is modest however recent and the environment is quirky and welcoming.
Now, speaking of quirky, Nouveau Style Classic on rue Decker is a delight of color and retro style, with rails of classic garments and equipment, all the pieces from a lime-green jumpsuit to a Nineteen Sixties night robe. Throughout the identical boutique is an eco-friendly hairdressing salon, additionally furnished with pre-loved objects from earlier a long time.
And if you’re a magpie for vivid colors, you’ll love Bibop et Lula in rue Saint Solomon, an eye catching boutique providing homewares, clothes and niknaks in fashionable floral prints, jewel tones and Indian-inspired motifs. You pop in for a reversible floral sunhat and someway emerge with an armful of goodies…
There’s another cease in case you get pleasure from a treasure-trove: on Avenue Saint Symphorien (in direction of the practice station), the understated shop-front of L’échoppe St Vincent de Paul opens onto a room full of second-hand garments, blankets and extra, whereas its sister store subsequent door is a brocante and bric-à-brac. Each are run by volunteers and proceeds go to charity, so you should purchase with benevolence and a transparent conscience!
To make a weekend of it, in case you’re coming by practice there are a few nice choices proper reverse the station which might be independently run. For reasonably priced luxurious, the four-star Villa Kerasy begins at €135 an evening or for round €300 get pleasure from a room for 2, massages and breakfast within the non-public courtyard backyard, all with splendidly attentive employees. Close by, family-run Hôtel Anne de Bretagne begins at an unimaginable €66 together with what needs to be among the finest breakfasts in Brittany that includes home made yoghurts and granola, recent pastries, fruit salads, loose-leaf tea and native cheeses. Each resorts additionally provide packages with Le Bistrot de la Gare, a brasserie and bar whose set menu is sensible worth (€21 for 3 programs) and whose pleasant employees make you’re feeling personally welcomed.
You get the image: Vannes provides loads of distinctive experiences. Keep in a resort the place the employees are personally invested and greet you as a person; savour your dinner in a bistro that makes you’re feeling valued and go to quirky boutiques and artwork cooperatives to purchase one thing particular that you simply genuinely gained’t discover wherever else. It’s the sort of travelling that recollections are manufactured from.
Lead picture credit score : Vannes’ fairly timbered buildings © Annaliza Davies
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