The capital of Brittany, Rennes is a beautiful city and a great place to explore northern French culture. With a history that dates back to the Roman era, there are many intriguing monuments, as well as exciting museums, beautiful parks, and fascinating churches. From the impressive Parlement de Bretagne to Rennes’s most entertaining café.
Rue de la Psalette
Rennes was almost completely razed by a great fire in 1720, which explains why there are so many dignified late-18th-century houses in the city. But around the cathedral is a web of streets where half-timbered houses survive. Rue de la Psalette and Rue du Chapitre have endearingly warped corbelled houses that hang right over the little cobblestone streets. Stop for a moment to appreciate the centuries-old carvings on their timbers.
Parc du Thabor
Occupying the northeast corner of Rennes, the Parc du Thabor is a park that covers over ten hectares. It was designed in the 19th century by Denis Bühler on the site of the orchard of a former Benedictine abbey. It comprises a French garden, an English garden, a rose garden, a botanic garden, greenhouses, fountains and a bandstand. It is an idyllic area of greenery that is a lovely spot for a leisurely stroll, away from the hustle and bustle of the center and is especially worth seeing during the Tombées de la Nuit, an annual outdoor summer festival celebrating arts and culture across the city.
Parc des Gayeulles
Spreading out across a large chunk of northeastern Rennes, Parc de Gayeulles is a way of getting out into nature without having to travel beyond Rennes’ N136 ring road. f you’re a runner and don’t want to miss a workout while visiting the city you couldn’t pick a better place than these hundred acres of green fields and woodland. There are abundant facilities too, like campsites, an indoor skating rink, a zoo with cows, donkeys and horses.
The hub of any city is the spot in the city centre where the locals congregate. In Rennes, that means the Centre Alma, the city’s main mall. If you have some shopping to do, this is where you’ll start. The tough part may be knowing where and when to finish, with an excellent range of choice for stores and restaurants. Great boutiques for the fashion-conscious rubs shoulders with tech stores for digital natives – and even when it’s busy you can still breathe, thanks to the open plan design of the mall.
The specialties of the region are crêpes and galettes. Crêpes are sweet and made from wheat flour. Classic staples are butter and sugar, honey and lemon, scattered with strawberries and apples, drenched in salted caramel, or a flambéed variety.
Galettes are savoury and made from two different types of buckwheat flour that are gluten-free, which can result in variations in the exact shade of the batter. In their simplest form, galettes are served with egg, cheese, ham or bacon, but other ingredients can be added into the mix to keep things interesting: mushrooms, andouillette sausage, salmon, goat’s cheese, regional produce – pretty much anything that tastes good. Each crêperie has its own specialities, which means there’s always something to get your mouth watering.