Vitré, city of art and history

On the doorstep of Brittany, Vitré offers rich heritage dating from the Middle Ages right up to the 20the century. Come and immerse yourself in this city outside of time and be amazed.

“I was looking for a place to stop and walk around. What I found was a gem.”


Vitré offers a diversity of sights, from the medieval castle and ramparts, to the half-timbered houses, parks and gardens and Art Deco styles. The many facets of its architecture bear witness to the city’s constant development.

The castle as we now know it was built during the 13th century. The medieval city then prospered through international trade of hemp canvas before its decline during the 17th and 18th centuries. Vitré was gained new steam during the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and Neo-Gothic station, a symbol of modernity. The city then began developing to the south, which still continues today. After 1945, Vitré grew through industry, especially in agricultural sectors, which led to the city’s expansion and the development of services. As reflected in its history, Vitré has always been a city that is open to the world.


One thing that delights all visitors to Vitré is the proximity between the historic centre and the soothing natural setting along the Vilaine river. Just a stone’s throw from the centre, you can walk to the Pré des Lavandières, across from the former tanneries, and enjoy the Vilaine River valley, overlooked by the castle and ramparts. Pastureland, a wooden bridge and picnic areas are all at your disposal.


The Cities and Places of Art and History label is awarded by the French Ministry of Culture to recognize a territory’s rich heritage and architecture. It rewards a commitment to pursue knowledge, conservation, appreciation and support as well as the quality of the architecture and living environment. Heritage in the broadest sense (built, natural, maritime, industrial heritage) and the memories of its residents are all integrated in this process and contribute to a city’s identity.

The goal of the label is to raise public awareness about architecture, heritage and landscapes, with a focus on these three areas:

  • raising residents’ appreciation of their living environment
  • encouraging quality tourism
  • introducing young audiences to architecture, heritage and urban planning

The Cities and Places of Art and History network includes 190 territories, of which 11 are in Brittany: Brest, Concarneau, Dinan, Dinard, Fougères, Lorient, Morlaix, Quimper, Rennes and Vannes. Vitré was awarded this label in 1999.