Sightseeing tour of Vitré
Stroll through the historical heart of Vitré, city of art and history, with its medieval streets and alleys.
Wander in quest of the heritage wonders with this trail.
A true escape through history and the vitréen "art de vivre".
End the walk by a visit of the medieval castle and its museum before going back to the starting point.
Follow the description rather than the GPX tracks.
A Vitré walk
posted on 29/03/23 by Vitré Communauté. Last update : 31/05/23
Start : Start at the Parking Gare de Vitré (PEM) free car park. Rue Pierre Lemaître, 35500 Vitré.
(S/E) From the car park, find and climb the stairs (or take the elevator) to go up to the footbridge (A) and start the walk with a panoramic view on the medieval city of Vitré and its Castle. Cross the footbridge and go down on the other side of the railway.
Once you're down, turn right (East) towards the train station (B).
(1) Then with your back to the station, go to the roundabout, turn left (West-North-West) and walk along the footpath parallel with "Promenade Saint-Yves" to the Place Saint-Yves. From there, go right up the rue d'Embas (C). While doing so, take the time to admire the many timber-framed houses, in particular the Hôtel du Bol d'Or (D) at n°10.
(2) At the end of the rue d'Embas, keep going straight on the rue de la Poterie where you'll fin the Maison de l'Isle (E) which you can easily spot thanks to its disposition in the middle of the street, like an island.
At the end of the street, turn right (South-East) and go down the rue Duguesclin. Then, turn left (North-East) into the rue de la Borderie.
After the post office (yellow and blue logo, with La Poste written on it), on your left-hand side, you'll see the Tour de la Bridole, a tower which used to defend (with another one which does not exist anymore) the Porte d'En-Haut ("Top Door"), located at the South-East angle of the city. You can still spot the chemin de ronde, the arrow-slits and the gun loops.
Keep going straight away and at the junction, go down the rue Bertrand d'Argentré (South-East).
Pass by the Saint-Martin Church (F), then above the railway and keep going until the next roundabout.
(3) Go across the street and walk up the Boulevard des Rochers. When you reach the next roundabout, turn right (West) on Boulevard Pierre Landais and then left (South) after the McDonald's. Walk along the Boulevard de Châteaubriant until you reach the entrance of the Jardin du Parc (G), not so long after the Boulangerie du Parc (bakery).
(4) Enter the park on your left and as you have a pond in front of you, go right (South-East). Pass by the kiosk and then take the first alley on the left. Walk over a small bridge and turn right (East) at the end of the alley. Keep straight forward to go out of the park to reach Boulevard des Rochers road.
Go out on the left and walk along that road to the roundabout. Keep going straight and turn right almost immediately at the next street junction onto the rue des Viviers. Once at the next junction, choose the street in the middle (Rue des Castors) and walk up to the roundabout. At the roundabout, turn left to walk along rue de Paris (H) road.
At the end of the street, at the junction with Rue Bertrand d'Argentré, turn immediately right (North) towards the Place de la République. At the end of the square, turn left, walk by a house with mosaics under the windows and the roof and turn right (North) just after this house. Walk under a red wrought-iron gate.
(5) Go down the street (Promenade du Val) and after 150 m or so, turn right (North-east-East). Walk about 100m and turn left as you reach Rue de l'Eperon street. Keep going straight and then turn left to cross the Vilaine river. Once on the other side, go left (West) to discover the Pré des Lavandières (I). Follow the path until you reach another bridge (480 m or so). Cross it and then turn right (West) and walk to the rue du Val (Street).
(6) Turn right (West) a first time, then a second time (North) at the road junction to go into the rue Pasteur (J). Ignore the turn and keep straightforward along Rue du Rachapt past Monastère Saint Nicolas on your left-hand.
(7) Then past it, turn into the first street on your left (West). Go up the Chemin des Tertres Noirs (K) to have a beautiful viewpoint on the city. Then, take the first right just before the fork and right again 20m further. Go around then go left to walk back to the start of waypoint (7) where at the end of the Chemin des Tertres Noirs, you keep going straight into the rue du Puits Pèse.
After 50m or so, at the end of this street, go down on the right and once at the bottom of the street, turn left (North-East) and walk up the rue de Fougères until house n°36. Turn right (South-East) just after and go down the path to Pont Marin.
(8) Turn right (South-East) and follow the path that goes accross the river (where you crossed before) and then, go right to reach the Promenade du Val which runs along the ramparts of the old closed city to the Pré des Lavandières where you also walked before. This time, keep going on the promenade until the Poterne Saint-Pierre (L), which you'll have to go through on the left to go back to the old city and the place Notre-Dame.
Walk across the place (East) and by the Notre-Dame Church (M), behind which you'll find the Benedictines Priory, and go left to the rue Notre-Dame. Pass by the Hôtel Ringues de la Troussanais (N) and then turn right (South) and walk down to the rue de la Borderie.
(9) Turn right (South-West) along the street and go down to a little square with a fountain. Here, turn right along the street then left (South-West) into the rue de la Trémoille. At the next junction, turn right (North) and go up the rue de la Baudrairie (O). At the top of the street you reach Rue Notre-Dame where you turn left (West) to reach the square and the Castle (P), last but not least of the tour !
Take the time to admire it and then pass by, turn left and keep going along the street until the rue Garengeot (street). Turn right (South) to go down the street to go back to the train station and climb the footbridge again to return to the starting point. (S/E)
- S/E : km 0 - alt. 90 m - PEM car park
- 1 : km 0.21 - alt. 91 m - Train station
- 2 : km 0.59 - alt. 94 m - Rue de la Poterie
- 3 : km 1.26 - alt. 98 m - Roundabout
- 4 : km 2.16 - alt. 108 m - Entrance of the park
- 5 : km 4.09 - alt. 101 m - Red wrought-iron gate
- 6 : km 5.16 - alt. 80 m - Rue du Val
- 7 : km 5.47 - alt. 75 m - Rue du Rachapt - Monastère Saint Nicolas
- 8 : km 6.59 - alt. 68 m - Pont Marin
- 9 : km 7.54 - alt. 99 m - Rue de la Borderie
- S/E : km 8.57 - alt. 90 m - PEM Car Park
Start & parking: Start at the Parking Gare de Vitré (PEM) free car park. Rue Pierre Lemaître, 35500 Vitré. 600 spots.
Toilets at the starting point.
Toilets at the visitor information centre, the train station, the park, the Champ-de-Foire, near Saint-Martin church and rue Notre-Dame.
Refreshments & accommodation : Many hotels and restaurants in the old town and near the Jardin du Parc.
Always stay careful and alert while following a route. Visorando and the author of this walk cannot be held responsible in the event of an accident during this route.
During the walk or to do/see around
(A) Pem footbridge : Above the railway, the footbridge over the multi-modal interchange hub will offer you a glimpse of all of Vitré's monuments, letting you imagine the rich history of this city. On the headland facing the castle, a historical timeline allows you to situate each of them in the city's history. Nearby, you'll find the former fur factory that is now home to the Jacques Duhamel cultural center. In short, enjoy an exceptional 360° view.
(B) Vitré Station : Built by Victor Lenoir (architect of the former Gare Montparnasse in Paris) and inaugurated by Emperor Napoleon III in 1857, the Vitré Station is a symbol of the revitalisation of the city in the 19th century. Back in the days, it was one of the phases of the Paris-Brest line. Nowadays, the station offers a direct link to Rennes city centre in 20mn, and to Paris in less than 2hrs.
(C) Rue d'Embas and the Embas Gate : The door is gone but you can still see its old location on the pavement. While going up the street, take the time to wonder in front of the many half-timbered houses. Symbols of the flourishing activity of the hemp canvas trade from the 14th to the 16th century, some of these houses were built by members of the Overseas Merchants Brotherhood. Nowadays, the old merchants store have been replaced by restaurants and bars for the greatest pleasure of your tastebuds !
(D) Hôtel du Bol d'Or : At the top of the rue d'Embas, stop at n°10 to take a look at this building of the 16th century. One of the most atypical private hotel in Vitré, l'hôtel du Bol d'Or stands out for its size and astonish for its architecture. The polygonal stone tower and the slated roof nicely decorated make a curiosity out of it. The terraces of the nearby cafés are the perfect places to take the time to admire this beautiful house.
(E) Maison de l'Isle (Manor House) : One of the most photogenic attractions in Vitré, this dwelling, which dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries is made easy to distinguish by its location on a central island. Along the rue de la Poterie, you will find many old merchants' houses with front porches. Their first storeys are built out to the street, creating a covered alleyway favorable for trading. Nowadays, these houses shelter boutiques which make the happiness of the shopping addicts.
(F) Saint-Martin Church : The bell-tower in the Saint-Martin cemetery is the only remain of the old faubourg church. The arrival of the railway in the 19th century and the settling of the 70th Infantry Regiment in the 20th century lead to the construction of new neighbourhoods in the south of Vitré and the need for a bigger church. It will be built in a neo-roman style by the Mellet architects from 1868 to 1893. Its floor mosaics, made by Odorico father, earned it to be listed as Historic Monument. Odorico son, him, will embellish some of the new bourgeois villas with its beautiful Art-déco mosaics.
(G) Jardin du Parc : Loved by Vitré's inhabitants, this park was part of the ancient Château-Marie estate (on the Champ-de-Foire), mansion built in the 17th century by Vitré's Barons to replace the medieval castle as place of residence. Bought back and redesigned by the town at the end of the 19th century, this ancient park is now a lovely place to play and stroll, with its romantic alleys surrounded by trees of exception such as the Western Red Cedar from California.
(H) Rue de Paris : Located east of the walled town, the beautiful half-timbered houses with porches of this street have been preserved (n°15, 19, 21, 26, 30). Some of them are a beautiful testimony of the know-how of slate work. This street was part of the Saint-Martin faubourg, back in the days.
(I) Pré des Lavandières : On the banks of the Vilaine, this little haven of greenery is the perfect spot for a picturesque break in the midst of the city. Take your time to admire the castle and enjoy the flow of the river, rendered peaceful buy the building of dams upstream. A new 3km path has reclaimed the Valley of the Vilaine, on which Vitré has built itself. You'll also spot the Bouin Tannery, which dates back to the 19th century.
(J) Rue Pasteur and the Rachapt Neighbourhood : At the beginning of the rue Pasteur, the wash-house is a reminder for many others, which used to punctuate the banks of the Vilaine, back in the days. This one is curved and follows the riverbed. It also offers a unique viewpoint on the castle. Pretty coloured half-timbered houses line the rue Pasteur, as well as an old tannery, reminder of the work with hides linked to the river. At the end of the street stands the gothic silhouette of the Saint-Nicolas monastery, established in the 17th century. There begins the steep rue du Rachapt, which gave its name to the neighbourhood, which comes from the buyback of the street from the English during the Hundred Years War. From the 16th to the 20th century, the neighbourhood was renowned for its outdoor knitting tables, which produced hand-made linin yarn stockings and slippers, only for a few pence. At the top of the street, discover the Trois-Marie chapel, which towers this neighbourhood where time seems to have stopped.
(K) Les Tertres Noirs : You'll have to climb a little more to get there but the reward is worth the effort ! One look allows you to see the whole city : the Barons Castle, the ramparts, the trainstation, the Trémoille barracks and the Jacques Duhamel cultural centre, not to mention the steeples of the three churches : Notre-Dame, Saint-Martin and Sainte-Croix.
(L) Poterne Saint-Pierre (St Peter's Arch) : Situated north of the ramparts, Saint-Peter's Arch offers a nice view on the right bank of Vitré. It is the only door left of the four that were there centuries ago, and it allowed pedestrians and horse riders to enter the inside of the fortified city. The three other doors were the Embas Gate to the west, the Gâtesel Gate to the south, and the En-Haut Gate to the east.
(M) Notre-Dame Church and the Benedictines Priory : Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Notre-Dame Church was surrounded by a drapery hall on the west and by the Benedictines Priory on the north. Its south façade, being the most unobstructed, received more attention and rich fiery gothic decors, especially on the pinnacles, the preaching pulpit and the doors. It bears the Overseas merchants' marks, hemp canvas traders and travellers, who invested in its construction.
North, the Benedictines Priory offers a unique panorama on the Vilaine and its valley, whilst the ancient cloister shelters the Maison des Cultures du Monde (House of World Cultures), which is dedicated to the memory and valorisation of the immaterial cultural heritage.
(N) Hôtel Ringues de la Troussannais : Built in the 16th century by Etienne Ringues, lord of la Troussannais, this ancient Renaissance private hotel faces the Notre-Dame Church. The merchant's social status is reflected by the building: L-shaped plan, made of stone and situated in the heart of the city.
(O) Rue de la Baudrairie : This medieval looking paved narrow alley, which name reminds the leather craft of the "baudroyers" or harness makers, and its large corbelled houses are worth the detour. When you look up, you'll sometimes have the feeling that the roofs are in touch with each other. This beautiful lane is a must go for the history addicts, the stone lovers and the sculpted details fans.
(P) Vitré Castle : Set on the 11th century and rebuilt from the 13th to the 15th century, this castle stands proudly on a rocky promontory. From its role in the defence of the duchy of Brittany (independent until 1488) to its time as the residence of the Vitré Barons in the Middle Ages, this castle has a lot to tell. A digital mock-up allows you to see its architectural evolution throughout time and numerous events are hosted in the castle along the year. The museum, set into the building, tells the history of the city throughout five centuries.