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Vannes (Municipality, Morbihan, France)


Last modified: 2022-03-11 by ivan sache
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Flag of Vannes - Image by Ivan Sache & Raphaël Vinet, 11 November 2002

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Presentation of Vannes

The muicipality of Vannes (in Breton, Gwened; 50,000 inhabitants) is the préfecture of the department of Morbihan.
Vannes got its name from the Gaul tribe of the Venetes, mighty seamen who challenged Julius Caesar until he eventually defeated them in 56 BP. Those Venetes were a branch of the Indo-European tribes who settled in Europe during the first millenium before BP, the other branch having settled in Veneto (Italy). During the Gallo-Roamn times, the town was known as Diaroritum, Roritum being a ford on the river Marle, which flows into the Gulf of Morbihan in Vannes. Since Diaroritum was an important crossroad, it was fortified by Emperor Probus in the 3rd century.
In the 9th century, Vannes was the capital of the Kingdom of Brittany ruled by Nominoé and his successors.

In 1532, the State General of Brittany gathered in Vannes and proclaimed "the perpetual union of the country and Duchy of Brittany with the Kingdom and Crown of France." Duchess Ann of Brittany became Queen of France by her successive marriages with Charles VIII and later Louis XII, but kept the crown of the Duchy of Brittany. She died in 1514, aged 37, without a male heir. Her daughter Claude married François, Duke of Angoulême, and became Queen of France in 1515 when the Duke became King of France as François I. Later, Claude gave up the Duchy of Brittany to the Dauphin. According to the 1532 proclamation, which officialized the transfer of Brittany to France, the rights and privileges of Brittany were preserved; taxes were decided by the General States; the Parliament of Brittany kept the legal sovereignty; and Brittany was allowed to have its own Army. The central square of the old city of Vannes is called Place des Lices (Lists Square) to recall the tourneys and Breton wrestling contests which took place in 1532 to celebrate the union of Brittany to France.
The rights of Brittany were often scorned by the Kingdom of France. For instance, the Admiralty of Brittany was suppressed in 1626 and reestablished in 1669, and the Parliament of Rennes was exiled to Vannes in 1675. The sessions took place in a building called Cohue, dating from the 13th century. In Brittany, a Cohue (in Breton koc'hu, a covered market or a hall), was a building used as the market and justice court (upstairs). The world cohue is used in modern French to designate a crowd or a crush (for instance at the entrance of a cinema).

Vannes was the capital of the Duchy of Vannes, also called Broërec and one of the seven religious capital cities of Brittany, the local saint being Saint Patern (a local St. Peter, whose real existence has been questioned). The St. Patern's cathedral was built from the 13th to 19th century. In 1537, a circular chapel was added to the nave of the church, being one of the only examples of Italian Rinascimento architecture in Brittany. The tomb of St. Vincent Ferrier, a Spanish Dominican (1350-1419) monk who died in Vannes and was canonized in 1455, can be seen in the St. Patern church.

The movie director Alain Resnais was born in Vannes in 1922. His movie Mon Oncle d'Amérique (1980) shows several landscapes of the Gulf of Morbihan.

Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002

Flag of Vannes

According to P. Rault (Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours [rau98]), the flag of Vannes is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules, an ermine passant argent with a scarf ermine". Therefore, the flag has a red field with a white ermine with a white scarf charged with black ermine spots.

Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002

The scarf of the ermine is "d'hermine doublée d'or". So gold or yellow is missing in the above picture.

Pascal Vagnat, 11 November 2002

Les Amis de Conleau


Burgee of Les Amis de Conleau - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 September 2006

Until the end of the 19th century, Conleau was a small island located south of Vannes. Rich landowners built on the island a watersea swimming pool with a row of bathing huts, a restaurant, a grand hotel and wooden houses on the model of the Swiss chalets; a project of casino failed. In 1879, a dyke-road was built to link the island to the mainland and promote the development of the small sea resort, which became very popular in Vannes. The old swimming pool, huts and chalets have been fortunately preserved until now, so that the paeninsula of Conleau is still a very scenic place in the Gulf of Morbihan.

Les Amis de Conleau (The Friends of Conleau; website) is a yacht club with fishing and yachting sections. Their burgee has two vertical white and blue stripes along the hoist and five horizontal blue, white, red, white and blue stripes filling the remaining part of the flag. The blue stripes form a "C" recalling Conleau.

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2006

Société des Régates de Vannes


Flag of SRV - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002

Société des Régates de Vannes has a white flag with a blue border and a red lozenge charged with the municipal ermine.

Source: Guide Vert Michelin Bretagne, edition 2001, showing a colour plate originally released by the SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine), undated.

Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002