The historic heart
Rennes has been a commercial hub in Brittany since ancient times. Take a trip through time, starting from the Middle Ages, by discovering the Portes Mordelaises or the 285 timber-framed houses in the town, to a more modern era by admiring the imposing buildings of the architect Gabriel, First Architect to the King in the 18th century. You can reserve guided tours all year round from the Rennes Tourist Office, evoking the different architectural periods of the city from ancient times up to the present: the historic centre and its timber-framed houses, Odorico’s mosaics, Saint-Pierre cathedral, street art, etc. OUR FAVORITE: Discover Rennes with a greeter! Greeters are volunteers who are passionate about their city and will gladly share their tips, favourites and good places with you. Contact and book greeters a week in advance on the Destination Rennes website.
An imposing figure of Breton and Rennes architecture, the Parliament building was spared by the great fire of 1720 but burned down in 1994. Containing French 17th century pictorial jewels, the Parliamentary Palace has been reborn thanks to exemplary mobilization and renovation. Inside, the prestige is embodied in the French ceilings, carved and gilded woodwork, allegorical paintings, etc. The “Grand’Chambre” is the jewel of this exceptional decor. The Parliament is still a place of power today; it houses Brittany’s Court of Appeal and the Court of Assizes of Ille et Vilaine. The Tourist Office organizes guided tours all year round. Unmissable!
After a guided tour of the Parliament of Brittany, head to the Champs Libres to visit the Brittany Museum and stroll through Brittany’s history, from prehistory to the present day. As you are not far away, take the opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts where you will encounter Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Georges de la Tour, etc. Since 1794 the museum’s collection has been constantly growing. For contemporary art lovers, the Frac (Fond Régional d’Art Contemporain), located outside the city centre, presents temporary exhibitions throughout the year. TIPS: On the first Sundays of the month, the Rennes’ museums are free!
and the Opera House
These two buildings, with their innovative curved architecture, face each other in the city’s main square. Every summer, the “Transat En Ville” festival gives you the chance to attend free concerts and entertainment from the comfort of a deckchair!
Saint-Pierre cathedral, narrowly spared from the fire of 1720, was rebuilt between the 16th and 19th centuries due to its dilapidated state and restored between 2009 and 2014. The only Breton cathedral designed as a true Roman basilica, it contains numerous treasures such as the chandeliers restored by Evellin, the great monumental organs and an exceptional 16th century Antwerp altarpiece which has just been restored.
The Lices market is one of the most beautiful markets in Europe and a must if you are in Rennes on a Saturday morning. Ideally located in the historic heart of the city, this market is the oldest in Rennes. There is an incredible choice of products and you can enjoy the abundant entertainment which give to this market a unique atmosphere. OUR FAVOURITE: buy a galette-saucisse to take away and sit on one of the numerous terraces situated in the heart of the market.
At the gates of Brittany, go and attack the medieval fortresses of Fougères and Vitré which have lost none of their character. Plunge into the world of the Middle Ages and discover the most magnificent examples of the Breton Marshlands’’ fortifications. OUR FAVOURITE: take time to wander through the historic centre of these two beautiful towns, which have been awarded the “Ville et Pays d’art et d’histoire” label!
the fortified city
Dinan welcomes you to its sites steeped in history, from the best-preserved ramparts in Brittany to the luxurious mansions of the rue de la Lainerie and the Place du Champ Clos. The cradle of artists and creators, don’t miss the Rue du Jerzual which leads you from the port to the medieval city. Painters, sculptors and ceramists open their doors to you! On the way back, stroll to Dinan’s old port and sit on a terrace in the harbour, overlooking sailboats rocked by the Rance.
the city of books
30 kilometres from Rennes in the direction of Saint-Malo, Bécherel, a small traditional town, is known as the capital of books. Every year, over the Easter weekend, it welcomes a crowd of enthusiasts for its book festival. In its charming little streets, bookshops, bookbinders’ and calligraphers’ workshops share the shop windows with second-hand shops and small tea rooms. Each first Sunday of the month, except in January and February, don’t miss the book market and its activities.