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Europe 2017

Vannes: The Beautifully Timbered Old City and Roman Ruins

FRANCE | Monday, 17 July 2017 | Views [111] | Comments [2]

Entering the old town of Vannes through the Roman built gate into the city, is like stepping in to a time warp. The walls built by the Romans and the ramparts give testament to their phenomenal building skills so many hundreds and hundreds of years ago. And Vannes has made the best of it! The insides of the ramparts now hold beautiful gardens. And the annual Jazz Festival is held there. So, today they are also put to practical use.
 
As you stroll around inside the walls, you realize that it is also a bustling city. There is a pharmacy or two as well as a couple of small, but complete, grocery store chains. And just about every French chain has a branch in the inner city. People are being encouraged to move back into the city. Just think, you can rent an apartment in a medieval building! Aside from Carcassonne, (which has a complete wall) I can't think of another city that is as large and has as much of a completed wall as Vannes does.
 
The other thing that you will notice immediately, are all the beautifully restored half timbered buildings that date back to the Middle Ages. Timber was an expensive commodity so it was only used to support the structure, internally and externally. In between, less expensive things were used. Anything that was handy filled in the large gaps - from dried mud, twigs, plaster, even horsehair and dried dung were used in all the spaces. Then, depending on the taste of the owner, the house may have been painted. Wealthy homeowners also realized at some point that the timbers could be used to make designs on the external facade of the building.
 

The restoration of these buildings is very expensive and painstaking, as you can imagine. There is a whole art-form dedicated to it. Most of these restorations are done in partnership between the Federal government and the individual towns. France has recognized the importance of preserving its rich  historical heritage. And the towns, of course, are competing for the tourists and their money - in many cases for their survival. But, we the visitors are truly the beneficiaries! 

 

Comments

1

Jim and I enjoyed our week here. Sole Meunière in a cafe at the port was the best! And we took a boat trip into the gulf. Worth it! Then we did have lunch with you!

  Maddy Hanlon Jul 17, 2017 9:06 PM

2

I do enjoy your history lessons.

  Bonnie Jul 19, 2017 1:45 AM

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