Welcome to the capital! The capital of Brittany, that is. You’ll love the cheerful atmosphere of this forward-thinking region that’s switched on and full of creativity. Want to know more about Rennes and the surrounding area? The focus is on youth and culture, but there’s also a series of fortified castles that formed the region’s line of defense in the past. Only an hour and half from Paris by TGV, Rennes is the perfect place for a city break, with nature thrown in as a bonus.
Young, contemporary, dynamic … that’s Rennes. Brittany’s capital is well known for its vibrant student life and its rich historical heritage. Take a look for yourself: the medieval streets, the Parlement de Bretagne building, the great Parc du Thabor … and what about the Marché des Lices? It’s one of the most colourful fresh produce markets in France. Why not come for a break in this city of trendy boutiques and lively bars that’s not too big to get around easily on foot or by metro?
Knights and princesses still haunt this place. The medieval fortresses of Fougères, Vitré and Châteaugiron, at the gateways to Brittany, have lost none of their magic. They were built on the outer limits of the region to repel enemy attack. They all have keeps, drawbridge and ramparts that will fascinate anyone who enjoys heritage and tales of great deeds. And there may still be hidden treasure there, who knows? Go geocaching to break into the strongholds of the Marches of Brittany.
In summer or winter, there are loads of festivals going on: it’s a tradition. Every art form and every taste gets a chance to take to the stage. Contemporary music? The Transmusicales festival is for you. Storytelling? Check out Mythos. Street entertainment? Don’t miss the Tombées de la Nuit – a nightfall festival, at Rennes. Modern circus? Head to the Cirque ou Presque, at Noyal-Châtillon-sur-Seche. The magic of an open-air performance? Les Etincelles Aquatiques at Martigné-Ferchaud. And the high spot of the program has to be the wonderful alliance that combines the best of contemporary art with traditional Breton music and dance at Yaouank and La Granjagoul.
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Green and blue are the dominant colours of the countryside around Rennes, with its woodlands and lakes. The various open spaces can be used for all kinds of outdoor activities. Fancy the tree-top trail in the forest of Villecartier? No problem. Sailboarding on Boulet Lake? Enjoy. Canoe your way down the Cousesnon Valley? An unforgettable experience. Put on your walking shoes, get out your golf clubs and pump up your bike tires. Getting close to nature is the best way of exploring Rennes and the gateways to Brittany.
Rennes provides a great showcase for contemporary art. The FRAC, or regional contemporary art collection (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain), the private art galleries, the Ateliers de Rennes biennale (a biennial program of art workshops), street art and surprising state commissioned works dotted around the town are proof of that.
But works of modern art can be displayed to good effect in the countryside as well. Just look at the amazing Village de Bazouges-la-Pérouse. Or is that not quite big enough for you? Then play hide-and-seek behind the monumental sculptures scattered around the grounds of the Château des Pères, the Bois Orcan estate or the Ar Milin’ restaurant.
France’s biggest dolmen, erected 2,000 years ago, can be found at Essé. Its name – the Roche-aux-Fées – conjures up many mysteries. How did our Stone Age ancestors manage to build this burial chamber with stones weighing 40 tons? And what exactly was it for? Nobody knows. Legend says that they were given a hand by the fairy Vivienne and her friends. At winter solstice, get up at dawn to watch in wonder as it falls into perfect alignment with the sun. The magic never fades….
To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in Rennes, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. To book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or if you have somewhere particular in mind, enter your preferred city/town/village in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.
This itinerary is compliments of Brittany Tourism.