Situated on the bank of the River Vilaine in Brittany, the northwest French region, Vitré is a colorful town where history still lives. Officially established in the year 1000 by the Dukes of Brittany, this is one of those places where you can wander around many medieval buildings and see plenty of historical monuments. Even if this is not a big city, be prepared to spend all day walking around its charming, narrow streets; getting lost in the medieval castle and being amazed by its botanical garden. Those things are just a few of the reasons why you should Vitré on your must-see list.
The first castle in Vitré was built of wood around the year 1000. Unfortunately, it was burned down so many times that the Baron Robert I of Vitré decided to make the new castle from stone. In the 15th century, the castle was rebuilt, and the gatehouse with a double drawbridge was erected, along with St Laurent and Magdalene Tower. A fascinating oratory was added in 1530, in the renaissance style. But, in the 17th century, this magnificent castle started to decline, and it had to be abandoned. It was only in 1820 when the city authorities bought it, that the castle was restored and listed as a historical monument. Today, this fairy tale medieval castle is the place that houses a historical museum and the Vitré town hall.
Vitré is a town where you can also visit a magnificent English style botanical garden, located near the city center. This garden belonged to the widow of Henri Charles de La Tremoille, and the city authorities acquired it in 1867. This incredible green space was recreated by the French architect and landscaper Georges Aumont and was named Jardin des Plantes. A gazebo was added in 1897, as well as the statue of Marquise de Sévigné, a French aristocrat that became famous for her letters addressed to her daughter. You can also spot many remarkable trees in this garden, and there is even a section consecrated to the aromatic and medicinal plants. The entrance to this garden is free of charge.
Walking around the colorful narrow streets of the old town of Vitré is a unique experience. You can admire its medieval half-timbered houses and feel the atmosphere of a city where history still lives. After a long day walking and visiting, take a break at one of the restaurants situated in the beautiful medieval houses. At “Au Vieux Vitré” you can have a glass of a traditional Breton cider and, if you are hungry, you can order their delicious homemade pizzas. It is a great way to enjoy life and finish your day in Vitré.
Cover Photo © iStockphoto/Xantana
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