Château de Vitré

Castle in Vitré

Dominating the town, Vitré's medieval castle rises on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Vilaine, and is one of the most impressive in Brittany – a real fairy tale of spires and drawbridges. Beyond the twin-turreted gateway, you'll discover a triangular inner courtyard and a warren of semi-furnished rooms. Don't miss the top of the tower of San Lorenzo where paintings by Raoul David and others reimagine Vitré and you can wander around a circular walkway.

The château was originally built in 1060, and expanded in the 14th and 15th centuries; its earliest wooden incarnation was in a slightly different location, but burned down. The chateau is a mix of varying styles, from different epochs: the two parallel towers facing you as you stand outside the chateau on either side of the drawbridge are constructed from entirely different stone and techniques. The Hôtel de Ville, within the chateau and to the right as you enter, is from the 19th century but designed according to an earlier style. The living quarters of the baroness were in the Madeleine Tower, but sadly a large hall to the right as you enter exists no more. Flanked by two schools, the square in front of the chateau once swarmed with people and activity, but is today a car-free pedestrian zone.

Guided tours are conducted in French, but audioguides are available from the desk, as well as maps of the chateau layout.