The 7-hectare Jardin du Parc is Vitré’s most popular oasis of greenery. Located near the town centre, this English-style garden features more than 50 beautifully planted species.
This garden was originally on the grounds of the Princess of Taranto’s residence. An inventory of the barons of Vitré’s possessions in 1681 described the park as: "walled enclosure containing a fine château or mansion named Château-Marie... and vast gardens and flowerbeds with numerous long tree-covered paths..." On 21 December 1867, Vitré town council acquired the majority of the "Park enclosure" and issued the following clarification: "the Park’s promenades shall be open to the public indefinitely". From 10 March 1867, the mayor submitted a planning project, drawn up by Parisian landscape architect Georges Aumont, to the council. His plan, "which seemed to combine beauty and utility", was approved.
The perfect place to take a stroll and relax, reflect and enjoy oneself, the garden is also home to an extraordinary wealth of trees, interspersed with flowerbeds and various structural features. The garden is also home to a diversity of conifer species: cypress, pine, sequoia, cedar, juniper, and more. Kiosque.jpg (Bandstand) A bandstand, built in 1897, sits alongside the pond. Not far away, near the bridge to the island, stands a remarkable giant cedar. At 22 metres high and with a ground coverage of around 1,800m², the tree is one of the park’s unique and exceptional features.
Pluviomètre.jpg (Pluviometer) On the island, the entrance to which is marked by two weeping golden ashes, the pluviometer, built in 1885, houses a device that measures atmospheric precipitation. On the river banks, a group of bald cypresses trees, recognisable by their aerial roots, or pneumatophores, line the water. Mosaic flowerbeds add the finishing touch to this space.
Back towards the top of the garden is the aviary. Built in 1907, it is topped with a small steeple. From here you can see the ice hut, most likely dating back to the 17th century, hidden among the vegetation. The inner well was used to create a cool, shaded area. Situated nearby is the deer enclosure, dating from 1887.
Did you know: the Jardin du Parc is a nationally recognised ÉcoJardin (EcoGarden) and in 2012 it received the Arbre Remarquable (Remarkable Tree) label for its giant cedar.
A little patch of countryside in the heart of the town.
This protected space on the banks of the Vilaine and at the foot of the château feels like a well-kept secret. Perhaps this is because the entrance seems hidden: a small passage off Rue du Val, flanked by stone walls and façades, leads gently down to the Pré.
Designed in 1986 by landscape gardener Erwan Tymen, the garden took three years to complete. The creation was inspired by the aim of making a natural space in the town centre that offered the feeling of being in the countryside.
The walk begins along the path that follows the fence. Beyond the wooden sleepers a wetland area, where 28 different species of helophyte thrive, gives way to a lawned space. The large clearing overlooking the Vilaine narrows between the bamboos of the exotic space crossed by a pontoon. The walk then follows the course of the river. Let your gaze linger on the horses, lambs, washhouses and the old tannery. Turn around and past the meadow, over near the shelter (an old sheep pen), you will see a vibrant bed of plants intermingled with countless willows, including the most well-known weeping willow. Past the orchard, among the apple trees, picnic tables offer an opportunity for you to stop and soak up the surroundings.
The Pré des Lavandières is a calm and peaceful place where mystery and tranquillity reign. Its intimacy is what gives it its charm.
At the heart of the town centre, the Vilaine valley’s footpaths offer a host of walking opportunities.
The view here is fantastic. A perfect spot from which to admire Vitré, the château atop its rocky spur, the walled town, the churches and the fortifications.
Saint-Yves promenade, opposite the château, is a great place to relax and laze around. Two rows of trees complemented by a wide stretch of grass offer a perfect spot for relaxing. One of the most popular destinations in the town centre thanks to its view over the old town and its half-timbered houses.
Construction for Notre-Dame Benedictine priory began in the 1680s with innovation in mind:
This 30-hectare park, which is privately owned but open to the public, was created before the arrival of Madame de Sévigné. Despite its vast size, she planted new trees and was constantly developing it. She also undertook arranging the landscape around the château and named the paths where she walked: "la Solitaire" (The Solitary), "l’Infinie" (The Infinite), "l’Humeur de ma Mère" (The Mood of my Mother). The ideal place for a stroll and for sports, with a CRAPA (outdoor fitness trail) offering dozens of activities along a 2,200m route, the Bois des Rochers attracts nature-lovers, walkers and athletes alike, who come out for a wander to admire the Valière barrage.
Vitré’s neighbourhoods are structured around its green spaces. These spaces, fruits of town planning, soften the buildings’ hard contours and define the neighbourhoods, connecting the different housing estates with each other or with the rest of the town.
(Neighbourhood located at the Vitré exit, towards route de la Guerche-de-Bretagne)
This area’s landscape design is built around paths shaped by a variety of colourful, flowered, deciduous and evergreen hedges. The pavements are lined with grass, shrubs and street trees.
The area is home to two sites: Le Verger and La Vallée du Guénault.
Set in an orchard, hence its name (’verger’ is French for orchard), this 5,000m² space is ideal for relaxation with its natural setting, and for leisure activities with three play structures: a place with something for everyone. At the bottom of the site the orchard’s apple trees give the place charm and serenity. A pleasant, natural setting where families can enjoy themselves.
This space was designed as a bridge between the urban and the rural. It provides access to the sports facilities at the Saint-Étienne complex via a supported footpath which follows the stream: "le guénault". Lie back in the shade of the young trees intertwined with woodland plants, where the grass is freshly cut in some places, and left to grow like a meadow in others. A place blessed with the sweet scent of tranquillity and serenity.
Greenery is all around. The houses are built in harmony with the footpaths, which are often lined with hedges.
Roadside green spaces also abound: strips of grass along the pavements, street plants and trees. The flowered plants brighten up the pavements for the enjoyment of the residents and passers-by; who will also find places to relax: a sheltered space with a play area, an open green space, a square with a fountain... Each spot is a meeting point where the many paths that bring this neighbourhood’s friendly atmosphere to life convene.
To the north, the various paths that create a network between these neighbourhoods offer a wealth of walk ideas. Paths and green roadside spaces leading to Vitré’s old town, the Vilaine valley and the Pré des Lavandières.
This 5-mile lake boasts a water sports centre offering various activities, from beginner classes to advanced courses and equipment hire: sailing, windsurfing, rowing. A peaceful haven with a beach and shaded picnic spots. The view over the Château des Nétumières provides walkers with elegant views. Anglers also love fishing in this particular spot.
La Valière is a tributary of the Vilaine. This 100-hectare lake offers a 6km route for walkers, horse riders and cyclists, as well as being a spot favoured by anglers.
(between Landavran, Montreuil-sous-Pérouse and Champeaux)
A favourite spot for sports enthusiasts, this lake has a 12km route. Its well-maintained, high-quality paths lead to the Champeaux hills.
At Le Pertre, Châtillon-en-Vendelais and near Domalain, the Vitré area is brimming with natural sites to visit.
For more information: Tourist information centre Tel.: +33 (0)2 99 75 04 46. www.ot-vitre.fr