Wandering Vannes, Part One

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Just outside of Vannes’ walls

Vannes is the biggest ‘city’ in Bretange, the northwestern corner of France. I place ‘city’ in parentheses because to me, coming from New York, it feels exactly like what my photographs portray: a medieval, walled village complete with winding, cobblestoned, historical streets.

Saturdays in Vannes are Market Days. Old, sturdy women drag their rolling canvas bags through the stone entrance, beyond the walls of the ‘city’, and fill their bags with the freshest produce, meats, fish, cheese, fruit, dairy, and traditional cakes that one could possibly fit into a canvas bag. Mothers carry wicker baskets and stand in line at their favorite producers. They laugh with the fishmongers, they catch up with friends, they pass pieces of cheese to their eager children sitting atop their father’s shoulders, bumping along above the masses; a culinary education weaved seamlesly into their upbringing.

I have hundreds of photos of the marche, the vast, sprawling outdoor market that Vannes is famous for, (amongst other notable achievements). It is the most outstanding market I have ever visited; the most impressive, most bountiful of my travels. That is why I have to split my Vannes photos into chapters, although a sneak peak of the flowers alone can be seen below. This post offers an introduction to the narrow alleyways of the town, city, village, whatever you prefer. Art galleries are aplenty and a few are of great interest to the discerning purveyor. There are, of course, many knick-knack shops for the tourists, but there are equal amount quality shops as well, such as the high-end organic soap, boudoir, and vitamin store I frequented below, and the gourmet food store where I picked up a few Brittany specialties. Locals have their favorite boulangeries and patisseries, and it is quite difficult to decide which is best, which has the world’s greatest gateaux Breton and kuign amann (a separate post entirely devoted to this wondrous Bretagne specialty to come). Down by the port, I sit and watch the villagers approach their town for the Saturday stroll. Children skip, run, and scoot. Lovers hold hands as they pass the bopping boats. Loaves of pain come and go in both directions, tucked under an arm or gliding like a flag atop a bicycle basket. Saturdays in Vannes are quite simply lovely, lively days.

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Sunflowers in Vannes

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Gateau Breton in Vannes

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At the patisserie

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Olivier Le Brun: everyone’s favorite patisserie

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Cakes in Vannes

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Saturday market in Vannes

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At at very chic florist in the town center

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Outside one of the many beautiful florists in Vannes

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Another exquisite florist

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l’Agapanthe in Vannes

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Fantastic gift store with loads of French gourmet products

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A beautiful pharmacy

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Bakery/Boulangerie: Olivier le Brun

Exquisite Flowers/Garden: l’Agapanthe and Fleuriste

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