The sights of Rennes.
Rennes (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Rennes with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
City of Rennes (France)
Rennes is a city in northwestern France, the capital of the region of Brittany and the department of Ile-et-Vilaine. It is a great place to explore northern French culture with a history going back centuries. Rennes is one of the most picturesque cities in France, with 90 historical monuments concentrated in the historic center, where impressive mansions of the 18th century rub shoulders with medieval churches and half-timbered houses. Rennes is considered one of the most comfortable places to live in the country. There are many museums and parks, recreation and leisure facilities. This university town has a huge number of students and a cheerful and dynamic urban rhythm.
What to do (France):
51 €46 per person.
The Louvre in the morning or in the evening. Tickets guaranteed!
Two hours in the company of great masterpieces and without the tourist crowds on a tour in a mini group
€285 per tour
One Day in Paris” sightseeing tour
Grand tour of the city for a full day – all the best things to see in the city.
Geography and climate
Rennes is in the east of Brittany at the confluence of the Ile and Vilaine rivers, 300 km from Paris. The old city is built on a hill, the northern side of which is higher than the southern. The climate is temperate maritime with warm summers and cool winters.
- Population – more than 210 thousand people.
- Area – 50.39 km2 .
- Language is French.
- Currency – euros.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
- Rennes airport serves low cost flights between France and cities in the UK.
- The most convenient way to get to Rennes is by train. Trains run from Paris, Lille and other major cities in the country.
- Every Saturday at the Place des Lices is held market, where you can buy inexpensive products: meat, cheese, French delicacies.
- There is a large underground shopping center on Place du Colombier and a new La Visitation on Place Ste Anne.
The history of Rennes goes back to the Gallo-Roman era. In the 2nd century BC, the Celtic tribe of Redons occupied the territory of eastern Brittany and founded their main city at the confluence of the Ile and Vilaine rivers. In the 1st century BC, the settlement was captured by the Romans and named Condat Ridonum. During the Roman period, Rennes had an important and strategic position. In the 3rd century, due to the threat of barbarian invasion, the city was surrounded by a brick wall.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire these lands were occupied by the Bretons. Rennes was a border town of the Frankish state. In the 9th century it was conquered by the Bretons and became part of their kingdom. Later Rennes along with Nantes was one of the most important cities in Brittany. At the end of the 15th century as a result of the Treaty of Rennes the city and the whole region became part of France.
In 1720, the medieval city was almost destroyed by fire. The new Rennes was rebuilt in the Classical style. The city was also badly damaged by bombing during World War II.
Old Town of Rennes
Medieval Rennes was practically destroyed in a fire in 1720. The new city was rebuilt in the style of classicist architecture. That is why the historic center of Rennes has many beautiful monumental buildings of the 18th century. The web of medieval streets has survived only in the area of the cathedral. Here you can see the old half-timbered houses and architecture of the Middle Ages. The most beautiful of the old streets are Rue de la Psalette and Rue du Chapitre.
Saint Pierre Cathedral
Saint Pierre Cathedral is a magnificent example of neoclassical architecture built in 1845. Although the origins of this religious structure go back to the early Middle Ages. The cathedral has a stunning exterior, a magnificent interior, a beautifully decorated ceiling, and a spectacular organ.
The Tabor is a magnificent park of 9 hectares in the northeastern part of Rennes, on the site of an old Benedictine abbey. It was designed in the 19th century and includes fountains, a French garden, an English garden, a rose garden, and a botanical garden with greenhouses.
Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melayne is an ancient church on the edge of Tabor Park. It was founded in the 6th century and was rebuilt until the mid-19th century. The church is an interesting piece of architecture that is a combination of Romanesque, Gothic and neoclassical styles. The interior is equally fascinating and contains a notable 15th-century fresco depicting the baptism of Christ.
The Duchesne is an impressive relic of the Middle Ages, a 15th-century tower on 3rd-century Gallo-Roman walls. This structure played an important role in the defense of the medieval city.
Mordelez is another Medieval monument. It is a 15th century gate with two towers protected by a drawbridge and two smaller gates.
The Parliament of Brittany
The Parliament of Brittany is a splendid historical building built in the 17th century. The building has a magnificent interior – beautiful French-style ceilings, sculpted wood panels and paintings.
Place des Lices
The Place des Lices is a beautiful square full of fine examples of Breton architecture. This space is known for its Saturday market.
The Town Hall is a beautiful historic building built in the 18th century in the French classical style.
Palais de Commerce
The Palais de Commerce is an impressive building built between 1885 and 1929, designed by Jean-Baptiste Martinot.
Saint-Sauveur is a basilica built in the 18th century.
Saint-Yves is an ancient chapel that is now a center for the study of the city’s architecture and heritage.
From €105 for a guided tour
Grand tour of Montmartre
The Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, Villa Léandre, Chateau des Mists and other iconic spots of the bohemian quarter
from €130 for a guided tour
The Louvre for children ages 6 and up
An educational but not boring adventure which will be remembered by young travelers
Rennes – top attractions
Rennes is a beautiful city in France, in the northern region of Brittany, which definitely deserves your attention. With many charming old buildings, the atmosphere is nostalgic, but there are plenty of modern attractions as well. Read more about the sights of Rennes below. Let’s talk about the interesting buildings in the city center as well as what interesting places you can find nearby.
The easiest way to get to Rennes from Paris is by train, see tickets online here. But it is more interesting to do this short journey by car. Renting a car in France is no more difficult than buying a train ticket, you can do it in advance online at this link.
Historic Center of Rennes
Start your exploration of Rennes with a visit to the historic center of Rennes. Here you can discover one of the unique features of the city: its half-timbered houses with colorful facades. Rennes is one of the cities in France with the most half-timbered houses. There are a total of 286 of them! To admire them, stroll along beautiful cobbled streets such as Le Chapitre, Psalette and Saint-Sauveur.
It’s in the historic district that most of Rennes’ must-see sights are located. You will see the town hall, the opera house or the cathedral of Rennes. The most popular restaurants and bars are also located here. We recommend:
The luxurious French restaurant La Closerie
The small Delirium café.
Mezzelicious Lebanese restaurant.
Bistrot Cocagne near the cathedral
Cafe Peacock Rennes with its cozy patio
For pics on Instagram, go to the designer restaurant La Saint-Georges.
Les Brocanteurs has the best burgers.
Chez Kub is in a 300+ year old half-timbered house!
St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rennes (Saint-Pierre-de-Rennes Cathedral, in French) has been rebuilt several times and now really looks stunning. Inside you can see magnificent stained glass windows, a Roman altar, rich decorations and paintings, a beautifully decorated vault and antique 19th century organs. The cathedral used to be the coronation site for the dukes and duchesses of Brittany.
Opening hours: 09:30-18:00, break 12:00-15:00.
The Portes Mordelaises have been the main entrance to the city since the 15th century. It was burnt and bombed during the Second World War, and sometimes even tried to be dismantled for building materials, until the authorities took action. In the Middle Ages real jousting tournaments were held here around the corner, on the Place des Lices. During the Industrial Revolution, the Citroën, Renault and many other factories smogged up the whole center of Rennes, negatively affecting air quality and the color of the old buildings. Only 50 years ago the situation began to change for the better, and now the municipality is trying to rid the city center of cars and other pollution.
“Read the article – Vacation in Brittany: 10 ideas
Market on the Place des Lices
If you find yourself in Rennes on a Saturday morning, you should head to the market at Place des Lices, the second largest food market in France. It is in a beautiful setting surrounded by large half-timbered houses. About 300 local producers sell fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, meat and cheese here. For almost 4 centuries now, Saturday is an important event in the life of the city for Rennes residents and tourists alike. And it’s just a great place to buy edible souvenirs at attractive prices. The market is mostly dedicated to food, but there is also a very atmospheric flower trading area.
Important rules for a great trip to Fox’s Market:
Choose 5-7 varieties of cheese, different pastries, anything that doesn’t require extra cooking.
Only take fish and meat if you know where you will cook them. Look for apartment hotels with kitchens here.
Cheese is a popular souvenir from Brittany. To take it home, you have to wrap it in aluminum foil and then put it in a sealed plastic container. Vacuum bags are also a good option. Cheese should always be checked in luggage, not carried in carry-on luggage. Without packing, all the stuff in your suitcase will smell like cheese.
Don’t leave until you’ve tasted the famous sausage galette (galette saucisse), a well-known snack in Upper Brittany.
Rennes Town Hall Square
Rennes town hall square (Place de l’Hôtel de Ville) is the most beautiful square of the city and really worth visiting because of its two historic monuments: the town hall and the Opera House. The town hall was built in 1720 after the great fire that devastated Rennes. Opposite it is another famous building, the Rennes Opera House (guided walk around the building for €4, performances from €35). This is one of the smallest opera houses in France: only 642 seats.
If you are staying in Rennes for a few days, head to the town hall square in the evening, the lighting of the Opera House is beautiful!
Palace of the Parliament of Brittany
The Palace of the Parliament of Brittany is the most famous monument of Rennes and one of the symbols of Brittany. It housed parliament until the Revolution of 1790, then the building was a court, but was destroyed by fire in 1994. Nowadays, the beautifully restored palace once again houses the judiciary.
You can visit the palace, but you need to contact the tourist information office first, as they are the ones who arrange the visits. This is one of the few places in France where justice is combined with guided tours. A visit will allow you to admire the large and beautiful Grand Chambre Hall with its unique sculptural gilded wooden panels and painted paintings.
Every summer night, there is an illumination show on the facade of the Palais de Parliament of Brittany.
Parc Tabor is a great place to relax in Rennes for tourists and residents alike. There are French garden, English garden, cave, pools and waterfalls, botanical garden, aviary, music kiosk, rose garden with more than 2 000 varieties of roses and playgrounds for children on more than 10 hectares. Agree, it’s just the perfect place to spend a day with the family and enjoy nature. For sports lovers, there is a 1.5 km running track in the park, so there is no excuse to give up sports during the vacation. On summer evenings, every Sunday, you can see music and dance shows organized in the music booth and the Sylvan Theater. And every year Tabor Park also hosts the Mythos Festival, a springtime mixed arts festival.
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The Champs Libres Cultural Center.
There’s plenty to see and do here! This complex consists of several parts:
The Museum of Brittany , which tells the story of the region from prehistoric times to the present through a rich collection of objects.
The Science Center and Planetarium offers temporary exhibitions on biodiversity, high-speed trains, food, dinosaurs and other topics. Kids will especially appreciate the Merlin Lab, where they can discover science through games. And the planetarium is a great place to learn all about our incredible universe.
A huge six-story library . The glass facades allow you to admire a beautiful panorama of the entire city of Rennes. So you can come here for more than just books.
Address: 10 Cr des Alliés
Opening hours: Fri 12:00 – 19:00, Sat Sat 2:00 – 19:00, Monday off
Rennes Museum of Fine Arts
Another worthy museum in Rennes is the Musée des Beaux-Arts, a small Louvre in Rennes. It was created in 1794 from the works of art seized during the revolution. Here are the greatest artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Donatello and others. The visitor will take a journey through history and art movements, from Egyptian antiquities to contemporary art.
Address: 20 Quai Emile Zola.
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm, Sat – Sat 10am – 6pm, Monday off.
Ticket price: 6 euros
Another major tourist attraction in Rennes is the Vilaine River. You can start your walk near the Elancia Rennes Mitterrand post office. Stroll along the promenade, admire the beautiful facades and sit on a bench in the Jardins de la Confluence. This green area with pontoons, footbridges and benches is very pleasant and quiet.
On the banks of the river Vilaine it is very pleasant to cycle. You can start from the center of Rennes and ride to the beach and Apigne ponds in the countryside. Or ride to the Rennes Alma shopping center (south of the city), where there is a great park for walking – the Parc de Brequigny.
Interesting idea: Why not try a river trip on the Vilaine? Rent a canoe, paddle boat or catamaran and go on an adventure!
” READ ARTICLE – Brittany’s Best Beaches
Medieval Town of Fougères
Once you’ve had a good introduction to Rennes, we recommend you rent a car (check out the rental deals in Rennes at this link) and drive around the surrounding towns and villages. Visit the very beautiful medieval town of Fougeres, only 40 minutes away. It’s famous for its lush alleyways, half-timbered houses and a particularly interesting castle. Take a stroll along the rampart for a panoramic view of the town and its surroundings.
The medieval town of Vitré
Vitré is another medieval town, also 40 minutes from Rennes. And it’s only 25 minutes from Fougères. So it’s convenient to visit them both in one day trip. Vitré was virtually unscathed in the wars of the 20th century, so it retains its 16th century appearance. You are sure to enjoy its deep historical flavor.
La Roche-aux-Fées Dolmen
And another 40-minute drive from Rennes, you can find the geological site of La Roche aux Fées (The Rock of Fayes, La Roche aux Fées), the largest dolmen in France. The site impresses with its 40 stone blocks, some of which weigh more than 40 tons! Legend has it that it was built by the fairy Vivian with the help of other fairies.
For lovers: walk around the monument, each in his or her own direction. Count the stones. According to legend, if you count the same number of stones, you will be together for the rest of your lives!
Saint-Malo is a corsair town just an hour by car or train from Rennes. Its ramparts are a unique landmark and offer spectacular views of the beaches, harbor, forts and town. At low tide, you can walk around the island of Grand bé (l’ilot du Grand bé).
The best time to visit Saint-Malo is May and September. The weather is good and the summer tourist crowds are gone!
The famous forest of Brocéliande is the cradle of many legends, in particular of King Arthur, the wizard Merlin and the knight Lancelot. It is located 45 minutes from Rennes. If you decide to visit Rennes and the surrounding area, know that this place is perfect for a family outing in nature!
And if you’re single, don’t forget to check out the Barenton Fountain and its magical bubbles, which are said to help young girls find the perfect husband.
Brittany is a great destination for an interesting vacation in France. Start in Rennes and continue to the surrounding area. Everywhere you will find a rich Breton flavor, genuine antiquity, true stories and fabulous legends waiting for you.