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Rennes is the chief city of Brittany in northwest France. It's mostly modern and industrial, but has many grand 18th and 19th century buildings, and survivors of earlier times. It's also well-endowed with cultural attractions. In 2020 the city population was 222,485, with about 150,000 more living in the wider metropolis.

Understand[edit]

Rennes has long been one of the main towns of Brittany, but until 1806 it was overshadowed by the capital and Atlantic port Nantes. Then under Napoleon I Bonaparte, Nantes lost that role and indeed was removed from Brittany, so Rennes came to the fore. Its small river Vilaine was canalised and made navigable, and connected to other towns, so freight and industry were boosted even before the arrival of the railway. Its higgledy-piggledy medieval streets and half-timbered houses were mostly lost to a great fire in 1720, and replaced by stately stone mansions on a grid pattern, though the area east of the cathedral retains some of its older style.

The city was badly damaged in the Second World War: in 1940 German bombing hit an ammunition train parked next to troop and refugee trains, the day before the occupation of the city; and then it was heavily bombed by the Allies in 1943 and 1944. Postwar Rennes developed metal-bashing heavy industries, but as elsewhere in the West these succumbed to Asian competition from the 1970s. There were many strikes, demos and riots. From the 1990s the city regrouped around telecoms and service industries. The university also grew, so modern Rennes has a large student population, which gives it a bit of a buzz. Traditionally the students throng the bars on Thursday nights.

The climate is Atlantic: it can rain any day, though not as much as on the coast: see the Météo forecast.

1 Destination Rennes is the Tourist Office, at 1 Rue Saint-Malo 50 m north of Metro Sainte-Anne  a  b . It's open M 14:00-18:00, Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 10:00–13:00 & 14:00–17:00.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Rennes Bretagne Airport (RNS IATA), Ave Joseph le Brix, Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, +33 2 99 29 60 00, . This has regular flights from Europe and London, mostly by budget carriers. For the time being, Air France fly 2 or 3 times a day from Paris CDG, but this is going to fall foul of the law banning French domestic flights for journeys that can be done overland in less than 2½ hours. Other domestic flights are from Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. The airport has the usual facilities including car rental. Rennes – Saint-Jacques Airport (Q1432593) on Wikidata Rennes–Saint-Jacques Airport on Wikipedia
To town: The airport is 6 km southwest of city centre.
- Bus C6 runs daily every 30 min between 05:00 and 00:00. It takes 20 min to Centre Commercial Cesson, with a stop by the art museum on Quai Emil Zola. Bus 57 from the airport was axed.
- Saint-Jacques de la Lande railway station is 1 km east of the airport. It has trains every few hours on the TER Breizh line between Rennes (5 min) and Messac-Guipry.
- Taxis wait outside Arrivals. A ride downtown might be €20.
  • Nantes Atlantique (NTE IATA) has a similar choice of flights.
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG IATA) has global flight connections.
  • Dinard–Pleurtuit–Saint-Malo (DNR IATA) nowadays only has private aviation.

By train[edit]

For fare deals see Rail travel in France.

Trains run hourly from Paris Montparnasse, taking 90 min nonstop to Rennes. They continue to Saint-Brieuc and Brest, another two hours, as the winding line through Brittany isn't upgraded for TGV speeds. From Paris CDG airport take the RER train into the city and change at Chatelet/Les Halles for Montparnasse - the direct train starting in Lille only runs twice a day. Likewise from the south of France, you usually change across Paris.

From Nantes an hourly regional train takes 80 min nonstop. From St Malo an hourly regional train takes an hour via five stops. From Quimper an hourly train takes two hours via Lorient and Vannes. From Caen a twice-daily train takes 3 hr 20 min via Avranches (for Mont St-Michel).

2 Gare de Rennes Rennes station on Wikipedia is clean and modern, with Gares metro and bus station just outside. Walk 1 km north for the historic centre.

By bus[edit]

Blablacar (owned by the rail company SNCF) runs eight times a day from Paris (Bercy-Seine), taking 4-5 hours via Le Mans. In 2023 an adult single is about €35. There's one direct service daily from Paris CDG Airport. Flixbus have three late-night runs.

Blablacar services from other French cities are often car-share rides, and may start or drop off some distance from city centres.

BreizhGo is the regional bus company. It connects over twenty villages and small towns to Rennes: routes a visitor might use are from Saint-Malo, Dinard and Vitré.

Rennes bus station is next to the railway station and Metro Gares  a  b .

By road[edit]

From Paris follow A10 / A11 west past Chartres to Le Mans then A81 past Laval.

Get around[edit]

Rue du Chapitre in Old Town

Walking is always first choice in the compact city centre.

By public transport[edit]

Star[dead link] is the city transport system, with 50 bus lines and two Metro (VAL) lines. The hub for these is the mainline railway and intercity bus station Gares. The principal routes run 05:30 to 00:30. The metro lines run an extra hour longer until almost 02:00 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

In 2023 a single ticket is €1.50, valid for one hour and unlimited transfers. A one day pass is €4.20, three days is €11.70 and seven is €18.35. Longer passes (KorrigoCards) are available from Gares travel centre - you'll need photo ID, which they scan onto the card.

Metro Line A runs northwest to southeast, from JFK to Villejean University, Sainte-Anne, Gares and out to La Poterie. Line B, opened in 2022, runs northeast to southwest, from Cesson via Sainte-Anne, Gares, and out to Saint-Jacques.

By bike[edit]

Rennes has plenty of cycle lanes, and for a pleasant excursion follow the canal.

Le Vélo STAR[dead link] is the rental bike system, part of the public transport system. You register online and pay €150 deposit, which enables you to pick up a bike from any of the 80-some docking stations. Then you pay €1 for a trip up to one hour and €2 for 24 hours; electric bikes cost more. Longer tariffs are available up to 12 months.

By car[edit]

Avoid using a car in city centre: many routes are barred to private vehicles, and parking is scarce and expensive.

Parcs-relais[dead link] is the Park & Ride system. Eight metro / bus stations have car parks, free to enter and more importantly free to exit by using your transport ticket. These are J.F. Kennedy  a  (not Su), Villejean-Université  a , Cesson-Viasilva  b , Les Gayeulles  b  and Saint-Jacques - Gaîté  b  (not Su) in the north, Les Préales in the east (bus only, not Su), and Henri Fréville  a  (not Su) and La Poterie  a  in the south.

Taxis wait at Gares. There are over a dozen operators.

See[edit]

Portes Mordelaises
  • Musée de Bretagne, 10 Cours des Alliés (within Les Champs Libre just north of station), +33 2 2340 6600. Tu-F 12:00-19:00, Sa Su 14:00-19:00. Large museum of Breton culture, in its present futuristic building since 2006. There's also material from the infamous trial of Alfred Dreyfus, held in the nearby Lycée in 1899. Museum of Brittany on Wikipedia
  • Espace des Sciences is also within Les Champs Libre, same hours. The planetarium is €7, exhibitions €7, "Merlins lab" €5, and the combi ticket valid for a year is €19.
  • 1 Cathedral Saint-Pierre, Rue de la Monnaie, +33 2 9978 4880. Daily 09:30-18:00. This was built ever so slowly from the 12th century, and was still unfinished when it began collapsing in 1754. They decided to demolish it and build afresh in neo-classical style, and this took until 1845. It was renovated from 2009 to 2015. Rennes Cathedral on Wikipedia
  • 2 Portes Mordelaise is the last remaining city gate. Rennes acquired city walls and gates in the 3rd century AD, but the present structure is 15th century, when the gate and alley towards the cathedral were the principal entrance to the city. This route led 15 km west to the village of Mordelles, hence the name.
  • Old town with half-timbered houses (maisons à pans de bois) is best preserved is the little streets just east of the cathedral, such as Rue Saint-Sauveur, Rue Saint-Guillaume, and Rue du Chapitre. Most were lost in the fire of 1720, after which the northern districts were rebuilt in stone on a grid pattern.
  • Saint-Sauveur Basilica is in the Old Town 50 m east of the cathedral. It was rebuilt in the 18th century in classical style.
  • Church of Saint-Pierre & Saint-Etienne is the parish church, somehow squeezed in between cathedral and basilica.
  • 3 Musée des Beaux-Arts, 20 Quai Emile Zola, +33 2 2362 1745. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. This extensive museum was established in 1794, stocking artwork confiscated from churches. It later came to house the private collection of Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698–1756), a president of the Parlement de Bretagne. Its highlights are its 17th century paintings, and works of the Pont-Aven school led by Gauguin. Permanent collection free, exhibitions €4. Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes on Wikipedia
  • 4 Parlement de Bretagne is a grand building that since 1804 has housed the regional Court of Appeal - Brittany's parliament was abolished during the Revolution. It was badly damaged by fire during demonstrations in 1994, but restored as before. There are occasional guided tours.
  • 5 Parc du Thabor is a large park in the northeast of the city. It was originally a monastery orchard, confiscated during the Revolution, and laid out as public gardens. The monks named it for Mount Tabor above Galilee, which it in no way resembles. Bus 3 runs here from Republique station.
  • Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine faces the park. It was an abbey church, and served as the city's "pro-cathedral" while Saint-Pierre was rebuilt in the early 19th century. Saint Melaine was the first bishop of Rennes circa 500 AD.
  • 6 Frac Bretagne, 19 Ave André Mussat, +33 2 9937 3793. Tu-Su 12:00-18:00. Contemporary art gallery: Frac stands for "Fonds régionaux d’art contemporain". Adult €3.
  • Alignment of the 21st century is an artwork outside Frac in Parc de Beauregard - an array of menhirs, or are they receivers for cosmic signals, or grave markers?

Do[edit]

Place de la République
  • Théâtre National de Bretagne is at 1 Rue Saint-Hélier, 500 m north of the railway station.
  • Opera de Rennes is on Place de la Mairie just south of Parliament.
  • Cinemas in city centre are Cinéma Arvor south side of the railway station, and Pathé Rennes by Charles de Gaulle metro station.
  • 1 Le Blizz, 8 Ave des Gayeulles (Bus C3 to Parc des Gayeulles), +33 2 9936 2810. An ice rink with public and sport skating, lessons and skate hire. Patinoire "Le Blizz" (Q3220472) on Wikidata fr:Le Blizz on Wikipedia
  • Football: 2 Stade Rennais FC, Roazhon Park, Rue de Lorient, +33 2 9914 3580. They play soccer in Ligue 1, the French top tier, and often qualify for European tournaments. The stadium, capacity 29,778, is 4 km west of the city centre off ring-road N136.
  • 3 Jardin Moderne, 11 Rue du Manoir de Servigné, +33 2 9914 0468. Concert hall and event space on an industrial estate west edge of the city.
  • Fest Noz is Breton for "festival of the night" - an evening of traditional music and dancing. See the Tamm Kreiz website for upcoming events, which are usually inexpensive. See also below for the biggest, Yaouank in Oct / Nov.

Events[edit]

  • Travelling is a cinema festival in February which each year focuses on a different world city. The next is 20-27 Feb 2024, focused on Taipei.
  • Mythos Festival[dead link] is about music, story and song. The next is 5-14 April 2024.
  • Rock'n Solex is a student rock festival in May, with Solex powered bicycles loosely involved. It's on the INSA Beaulieu campus, with the next probably 8-12 May 2024, tbc.
  • Les Tombées de la Nuit is an art festival with many shows and installations in public spaces. The next is probably 3-7 July 2024, tbc.
  • Quartiers d'Été is a summer festival next held 19-20 July 2023.
  • Yaouank means "the young ones" and takes its name from a rock group that reinvigorated Breton folk music in the 1980s. It's now a music festival in November, with the next probably 2-18 Nov 2023, tbc.
  • Les Transmusicales is a music festival next held on 6-10 Dec 2023.

Buy[edit]

Parliament of Brittany
  • Columbia is a shopping centre at 40 Place du Columbier, 300 m northwest of the railway station. Trois Soleils is its east end fronting Rue de l'Alma.
  • La Visitation is a small mall east side of Place Sainte-Anne.
  • Galleries Lafayette is an upmarket department store on 1 Rue de Rohan northwest of Place de la République.
  • Rue d'Orléans and Rue le Bastard are the principal retail streets, connecting Place de la République with Place Sainte-Anne.
  • Large malls on the edge of the city include Centre Alma, Cleunay, Grand Quartier and Cesson-Sévigné.
  • Le marché des Lices is the main city market, on Place des Lices just north of the cathedral on Saturday 06:00 - 13:30. Established in 1622, this fresh-food market is spread out over several streets and halls.
  • There are 20 markets across the city, and about the same in outlying parts.

Eat[edit]

Galette-saucisse je t'aime, J'en mangerai des kilos! Dans toute l'Ille-et-Vilaine, Avec du lait ribot ! - sung by the fans of Stade Rennais FC
  • Galettes are Breton salted crêpes made with buckwheat flour, and galettes-saucisses are roasted pork sausage wrapped in a galette. Lait ribot is half-fermented milk, sometimes served with boiled chestnuts.
Galettes-saucisse

Budget[edit]

  • 1 La Criée Marché Central is a large fresh-food market hall, north side of Blvd de la Liberté. It's open M-Th 09:00-14:00, 15:30-19:00, F Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 09:00-13:00. There are places within to sit down and eat. Le Marché à Manger is a street food market there on the first Sunday of each month 11:00-17:00; various restaurants have stalls to demonstrate their cuisine.
  • Le Fournil Vasselot, 13 Rue Vasselot (50 m east of La Criée Marché), +33 2 9979 0207. Tu-Su 07:00-20:00. Popular bakery, good choice of bread, cakes, cookies, viennoiseries (puff pastry) and croissants.
  • Rue de Saint-Malo just north of Basilica Notre-Dame and the Tourist Office is a "Little Asia" of cheap eating places.
  • Rue Saint-Georges in town centre has wall-to-wall cheap eating places at its east end off Rue Gambetta. Bistro Volnay (see "Mid-range" below) is the pricier pick of the bunch.
  • La Sarrasine, 30 Rue Saint-Georges, +33 2 9938 8754. M Tu Th-Sa 12:00-1400, 19:00-21:30. Crêpes and other Breton home cooking.
  • 2 Les Petits Papiers, 2 Place Saint-Germain, +33 2 9979 7103. M-F 09:00-01:00, Sa 10:00-01:00, Su 16:00-23:00. Great value cafe.
  • Chez Nous, 6 Rue de Montfort (just east of Basilique Saint-Sauveur), +33 6 593 31288. M-F 08:30-16:00. Friendly cafe-bar for the lunchtime office crowd.
  • 3 Ouzh-Taol, 27 Rue Saint-Melaine, +33 2 9963 3633. M-F 12:00-14:00, 19:00-21:30. Good crêperie near the university library.
  • 4 Wooded, 10 Rue d'Antrain, +33 9 8841 0480. M-Sa 12:00-15:00, 19:00-22:30. Wood-fired wraps and kebabs, in, er, Korean style?
  • Frencheez, 8 Rue d'Antrain (next to Wooded), +33 2 2320 9702. Su-W 11:00-00:30, Th-Sa 11:00-01:30. Burger place with halal and vegetarian choices.
  • Le Coucou Rennais, 20 Rue d'Antrain (50 m north of Wooded), +33 9 7314 8872. M-Sa 12:00-14:00, 19:00-22:00. Small organic cafe with vegetarian and vegan options.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 5 Le Bistro Volney, 38 Rue Saint-Georges, +33 2 9927 0446. Th-M 12:00-13:30, 19:00-21:30. French cuisine with seasonal menus.
  • 6 Le Globe, 32 Blvd de la Liberté, +33 2 9979 4444. Quality French cuisine, friendly service. Tu 12:00-14:30, W-Sa 12:00-14:30,19:00-22:30.
  • 7 Les Fils à Maman, 11 Rue du Champ Jacquet, +33 2 2330 8803. Daily 12:00-14:00, 19:00-21:30. Enthusiastic reviews for this inexpensive chain, aiming for cuisine like Mama used to make.
  • 8 Crêperie Sainte-Anne, 5 Place Sainte-Anne (Metro: Sainte-Anne  a  b ), +33 2 9979 2272. M-Sa 11:45-21:45. A long-standing favourite crêperie in the square.
  • 9 Le Sablier, 70 Rue Jean Guéhenno (Metro: Jules Ferry  a ), +33 2 9936 3238. M-F 10:00-01:00, Sa 17:00-01:00. Buzzing cafe-bar, sometimes has live music.

Splurge[edit]

Racines gets rave reviews
  • Holen, 2 Rue des Carmes (next to Collège Émile Zola), +33 2 9979 2895. Tu–Sa 12:00-14:30, 19:30-21:30. Fine dining with fresh seasonal ingredients.
  • 10 Restaurant IMA, 20 Blvd de la Tour d’Auvergne (Bus C5,C6,9), +33 2 2347 8274. W–Sa 12:00–14:00, 19:30–21:00. Excellent restaurant (Michelin 1-star) creatively blending French and Far-Eastern. The chef is Julien Lemarié.
  • Racines, 4 Passage Antoinette Caillot (100 m east of IMA, bus C5,C6,9), +33 2 9965 6421. Tu–F 12:00-14:30, 19:45-21:00, Sa 19:45-21:00. Rave reviews for this restaurant (Michelin 1-star), where the chef is Virginie Giboire.
  • 11 Le Saison, 1 Impasse du Vieux Bourg, Saint Grégoire (6 km north of city, Bus C2), +33 2 9968 7935, fax: +33 2 99 68 92 71, . Tu-Sa 12:15-13:15, 19:15-21:15. Outstanding restaurant (Michelin 1-star) worth coming the extra distance, the chef is Ronan Kervarrec. They also have rooms.
  • 12 Le Pont d'Acigné, Les Puits Gautier, Acigné (15 km east of city), +33 2 9962 5255. W-Sa 12:00–14:00, 19:00–21:30, Su 12:00–14:00. Superb restaurant (Michelin 1-star), trad French with eclectic influences, the chef is Sylvain Guillemot.

Drink[edit]

Most bars close midnight to 01:00; late bars to 03:00 include Contrescarpe, La Place and Café Cactus.
  • L'Heure du Jeu, 11 Boulevard Magenta (200 m north of railway station), +33 2 9931 4348. M-W 17:00-23:30, Th-F 17:00-00:30, Sa 14:00-00:30. L'heure du jeu means "play time" and they have over 1000 board and card games. There's another branch in Anatole France district to the northwest.
  • Haricot Rouge, 10 Rue Baudrairie (50 m north of Place de la République), +33 2 9979 3623. Tu F Sa 11:00-20:30, W Th 11:00-00:00. Relaxing cafe-bar with hot chocolate and board games.
  • O'Connell's, 6 Place du Parlement, +33 2 9979 3876. M-Sa 11:00-01:00, Su 17:00-01:00. Popular Irish pub in the square facing Parliament, friendly anglophone staff and live TV sport.
  • Le Bateau Ivre, 28 Rue de la Visitation (100 m north of Parliament). M 15:00-01:00, Tu-F 09:30-01:00, Sa 11:00-01:00. Friendly central cafe-bar.
  • La Contrescarpe, 5 Rue de Champ Jacquet (200 m west of Parliament), +33 2 9979 3697. M-Sa 21:00-03:00. Late-night cocktail bar in vaulted cellars.
  • La Place, 7 Place de Champ Jacquet (next to Contrescarpe), +33 2 9979 0575.
  • Barantic, 4 Rue Saint-Michel (50 m south of Metro Sainte-Anne  a  b ), +33 9 8257 4434. M-F 09:00-01:00, Sa 07:00-01:00, Su 14:00-00:00. Great selection of draught beers, mostly Belgian, a good way to wash down your saucisson.
  • Café Cactus, 3 Rue Pongerard (100 m south of Metro Sainte-Anne  a  b ), +33 2 9979 2390. Tu-Sa 19:00-03:00, Su 21:00-03:00. Late bar where a dinky toy train delivers your shots.
  • Westport Inn, 36 Rue de Dinan (200 m west of Metro Sainte-Anne  a  b ), +33 2 9935 0543. Daily 16:30-01:00. Another Irish pub, smaller and less touristy than the others.
  • 1988 Live Club, 27 Place du Colombier (200 m west of Metro Charles de Gaulles  a ), +33 6 8101 0634. Tu W 14:00-18:00, Th F 14:00-18:00, 00:00-06:00, Sa 00:00-06:00. Large music venue with three stages.

Sleep[edit]

Cathedral interior
  • 1 Camping des Gayeulles, Rue du Professeur Maurice Audin (in park 1 km northeast of Les Gayeulles metro station), +33 2 9936 9122, . Large parkland site northeast edge of city and open year-round, mostly clean and well-run, some guests inconsiderate.
  • 2 Auberge de Jeunesse HI, 10 Canal Saint Martin, +33 2 9933 2233. Friendly youth hostel by the canal, open mid-Jan to mid-Dec. Dorm €27 ppn.
  • 3 Les Chouettes Hostel (formerly Venezia Hotel), 27 Rue Dupont-des-Loges, +33 2 3096 6192. Chic friendly hostel near city centre. Dorm €25 ppn.
  • ibis Rennes Centre Gare Sud, 15 Rue de Châtillon (south flank of station), +33 2 2336 0136. Standard Ibis chain hotel, helpful staff. B&B double €70.
  • Atlantic Hôtel Rennes Centre Gare, 31 Blvd de Beaumont (facing north side of station), +33 2 9930 3619. Tiny rooms, no parking, but very convenient for station. B&B double €70.
  • Campanile, 28 Ave Jean Janvier (opposite station entrance), +33 2 9931 5959. Comfy convenient budget hotel. B&B double €70.
  • 4 Novotel, 22 Ave Jean Janvier, +33 2 9984 0808. Accor mid-price chain hotel, good scores for comfort and service, but the a/c is inadequate on hot days. B&B double €120.
  • 5 Le Nemours Rennes, 5 Rue de Nemours, +33 2 9978 2626. Friendly comfy hotel off Place Republique. B&B double €70.
  • 6 Hôtel Des Lices, 7 Place des Lices, +33 2 9978 2626. Cosy hotel near old town centre, some noise from nearby bars. B&B double €85.

Stay safe[edit]

Parc du Thabor

Standard advice over care of valuables, traffic, and staying clear of unruly drunks.

Cope[edit]

  • Le 4 bis is an online resource for young folk in Rennes, covering study, employment, accommodation and so on.

Consulates[edit]

Always start by checking the embassy website - something like a lost passport will be handled from there or even from the home country rather than the local consulate. This section doesn't list Honorary Consuls, who will express sympathy at your predicament but advise you to call the embassy in Paris.

Connect[edit]

As of June 2022, Rennes has 5G from all French carriers.

Go next[edit]

  • Attractive places in Brittany are Fougères, Dinan, Vannes, Carnac, Lorient, Montfort-sur-Meu, Guidel, Finistère and Vitré.
  • Saint-Malo is a wonderful coastal town on the English Channel, only an hour by train. It has ferries to the Channel Isles.
  • Mont Saint-Michel is an island 70 km northeast, home to the fortified abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. Bus excursions run from Rennes.
  • Also nearby are Cobac Parc, Vilaine river, Canal d'Ille-et-Rance and Forêt de Rennes.


Routes through Rennes
ENDS AT PORTE DE NORMANDIE  SW Autoroute des Estuaires NE  AvranchesCaen
BrestMontfort-sur-Meu  NW  NE  ENDS AT ROCADE OUEST
Lorient ← Ploërmel ←  SW  NE  ENDS AT ROAZHON PARK
ENDS AT PORTE DE NANTES  N Route des Estuaires S  → Bain-de-Bretagne → Nantes
ENDS AT PORTE DE LA RIGOURDIÈRE  W  E  VitréParis
Saint-Malo  NW  SE  ENDS AT PORTE DE SAINT-MALO



This city travel guide to Rennes is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.