Rennes is the capital city of Brittany, France.
Rennes is not often mentioned in tourist guides but this medium-sized city is well worth a visit. It has more than 200,000 inhabitants in the municipality, of whom about 60,000 are students. This gives the city a vibrant nightlife.
There are more than 300,000 people in the urban unit which includes some suburbs in neighbouring municipalities, more than 400,000 in the "métropole" created in 2016, and more than 700,000 in the urban area.
Some streets, such as the Rue Saint Michel, have only bars on both sides (the locals actually call Rue Saint Michel "la rue de la soif", which means "street of thirst"). A stroll down Rue Saint Michel on a Friday or Saturday evening is a very interesting experience indeed. However, if you're really in the mood to "faire la fête" (go to party), celebrate or just have fun in other words, the most exciting night on "rue de la soif" would be the "jeudi soir", Thursday nights, during the school year. Jeudi soir is the night when bars are most often packed to the brim with students. The sights on Thursday nights out on the city are very memorable and interesting.
Rennes is particularly nice in early July, during the "Festival des Tombées de la Nuit". Its streets are then full of people enjoying the free street entertainment and eating or drinking at the terraces of the restaurants and cafés.
Rennes used to be virtually empty after the 15th of July, as most of its inhabitants were migrating to the coast until the 15th August. This trend seems to have stopped and Rennes's terraces and cafes are now bustling throughout the year, with a very attractive calendar of outdoor and indoor cultural events, a lot of cultural and sportive equipments and a large pedestrian area easily accessible from all municipalities in the metropole by an extensive metro+bus transport network.
phone: +33 8 91 67 35 35address: Couvent des Jacobins, 1, rue Saint-MaloMoved since March 2019
phone: +33 2 99 29 60 00address: avenue Joseph le Brix, 35136 Saint-Jacques-de-la-LandeIt has budget flights from Barcelona, Rome, Porto on Vueling, London, Southampton, Belfast, Birmingham and Exeter on Flybe, or Dublin and Cork with Aer Lingus which has good offers. Numerous fight inside France. Connections mostly via a stopover in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport () or Amsterdam Schiphol Airport () using Air France KLM. Around 20 flights per day.
phone: +33 2 99 46 18 46address: D364, 35730 PleurtuitOne hour away, Dinard's airport offers other cheap options, with for example a connection to London Stansted () and Nottigam East Midlands () with Ryanair; Guernsey () via Aurigny Air Services. 2–3 flights per day.
There are also direct trains, 4 a day, to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, which arrives at Terminal 2, taking approximately 2 hr 20 min ("OUIGO" direct service from Rennes) or 3 hr and 20 min (with one transit in Le Mans, or in Marne-la-Vallée/Disneyland Paris). The train to CDG terminates at Lille, taking 3 hr and 41 min (direct service from Rennes) or about 4 hours (standard service with 1 transit between stations in Paris), from where it's possible to take a Eurostar to the UK or numerous connections to continental Europe.
The Rennes train station also provides TGV service to Brest (via Saint-Brieuc) and Quimper (via Vannes), or regional TER services to Nantes (via Redon) and Saint-Malo, as well as other cities in Brittany, and some suburban municipalities with local stations in Rennes Metropole.
By shared rideThe cheapest way will be covoiturage or ride sharing. A lot of websites offer information about people wishing to share their car and budget. Covoiturage.fr, 123envoiture.com, or Allostop will help you out. Since 1968, travelling by car on motorways within Brittany is free.
By busRennes has also an international and local bus station ("Gare routière"), right next to the central rail and metro station . This is where you can get information about Illenoo (see below) and where buses such as Eurolines leave and arrive.
By bus and metro
Rennes has a very good public transport system, called Star.
If you're planning to buy a pass (weekly or longer), you'll need to go to the agency Place de la République or in the central railway station to get a "Korrigo" card. You can also find agencies in the subways stations and . These are not open every day, so check the opening times before you visit. Remember to bring an ID picture for employees to scan, as the card includes your photo. It is a free electronic card on which your pass will be saved. Once you have it, just reload it anywhere tickets are sold.
Daily tickets can be bought for €3 a day, and are valid on all bus lines (urban and metropolitan) and metro. Star claims that its network has the cheapest prices in France, with a single ticket (valid for 60 min after validation for unlimited connections) costing €1.50 (December 2018). Locals using a one-hour ticket will often leave their used ticket on top of the ticket vending machines. You should check to see if any tickets are have been left before buying your own, as the one-hour validity usually means it will be valid for a number of ongoing journeys.
Rennes offers more than 50 urban bus routes and a metro, with 1 service every 5 min in each direction for the metro and main bus lines at peak hours. The hub of the network is at (a secondary hub is at the railway station , it will become the main hub when the second metro line will open), which feeds most of the 50 different routes in the city (suburban lines to the west and east of the city are also connecting there, suburban lines to the north and south are now preferably connected to the metro and may reach the city center only on Sunday for limited services). This bus and metro network connects all parts of Rennes (and all municipalities in the metropole), and so you're never far from a bus stop. All the bus stops conveniently have a map (une carte) of Rennes with all the lines on, and a timetable for the routes it provides, so there isn't much chance of getting lost.
The metro, called the VAL, has only one line with 15 stops and is 8.57 km long. It runs from one edge to the other in 16 min. It connects the main train station to the centre, Villejean university, the hospital, the city hall and more. It runs from 05:25 to 00:30, like the seven main bus lines. A second line is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2019.
By bikeRennes offers very good options for cyclists. With plenty of cycle lanes, the city has plenty of cyclists. For residents of the city and tourists, bikes known as Le Vélo STAR, can be borrowed from 81 stations all over the city. These bikes are not particularly good, but they work and have three gears, so its worth checking them out. You can buy a 1-day or 7-day-registration on the website or at ten stations in the centre (pay with your credit card) for €1 or €5, respectively. Once registered, you can get a bike as often as you want from any station by typing your personal account number and PIN. The first 30 minutes of every rental are free, so the trick is to return your bicycle just before 30 min at the next station and immediately borrow another one.
If you are after a pleasant cycling trip, check out the canal route, which is flat and not very hazardous.
By carTraffic in city center is heavy. Large areas are reserved for pedestrians and buses. Parking in the center is not free. You'll have to find an horodateur, to pay. The price will depend on the zone you are parked in. €0.75/hr and 2 hr 40 min maximum for green zone and €1.33/hr with 1 hr 33 min maximum for red zones.
The best way to discover Rennes is by metro and its parcs-relais. These are car-parks located in metro stations on the outskirts such as , in the north and , and in the south. They're free if you use the metro.
By bus (illenoo)Illenoo is a public service of the Conseil départemental d'Ille-et-Vilaine. It offers affordable travel within the département (and a little bit outside) on 18 lines. For example, Rennes - Saint-Malo: €4.80, return for students under 26.
You can also go to Mont-Saint-Michel from Rennes, with the regional bus line. It is a direct service and takes 1 hr 20 min. Buses leave from the main bus station, next to train station, and the terminate at the foot of Mont-Saint-Michel.
Some long distance bus links to Nantes, Laval and Caen are cooperated with Lila (the public service of the Conseil départemental de Loire-Atlantique) or with TER (the train+bus networks of regions Britanny, Pays de la Loire and Normandy).
To most people, Rennes is not very famous for its architecture or places to see. But this city has a lot of surprises, from wood-framed (colombages) houses in the old city centre to modern building like les Champs Libres.
- One highlight, if you're after natural beauty and tranquility, is the . This park has a stunning collection of plant life, including a large bed of hundreds of species of roses, tropical, African and European trees, other beautiful and rare plants. It also offers a chance to see some budgies! There are cages with a dozen of species of small colourful birds. To get to Parc Thabor from Republique station, take bus number 3 (direction St. Laurent) and get off at the Thabor stop. Or you can walk about 10 minutes north-eastwards.
- is a major building in Rennes. This grand palace was built in the 17th century to house the provincial court of justice.
- The is the last remaining city gate, just in front of the . It boasts a classical façade, though the interior was rebuilt during the first French Empire and restored in 2015.
- Colourful traditional half-timbered houses (maison à pans de bois) are primarily along the streets Rue Saint-Sauveur, Rue Saint-Georges, Rue de Saint-Malo, Rue Saint-Guillaume, Rue des Dames, Rue du Chapitre, Rue Vasselot, Rue Saint-Michel, Rue de la Psallette, and around the plazas of the historic city center (Place du Champ-Jacquet, Place des Lices, Place Sainte-Anne and Place Rallier-du-Baty). All these houses escaped from a giant fire which destroyed half of the city in 1720. Due to this fire, the northern city center was rebuilt in the 18th century on a grid plan.
- Mont Saint-Michel is a granite island in the former region of Basse-Normandie (now the region Normandie), about 70 km northeast. The main part of the island is the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, surrounded by fortifications, the 3rd most visited monument in France.
If you're going there, the easiest and more expensive way is to use keolis emeraude bus company. They'll charge you €11.40 each way, €8.60 for 16 to 25 year olds. But a cheaper option is to use the Illenoo public transport (see Get in), which costs €3 each way, but stops in Pontorson (9 km south of Mont Saint-Michel). From there, you can even hitch hike or use the Maneo light bus link, which costs €2. Just make sure that the schedules line up so you're not stuck in Pontorson for 2 hours or more — it's a cute small town but there's not much to do there.
Both services offer a 20% discount for those under 26 years old.
- Etangs d'Apigné
- Cobac Parc
- The Vilaine river
- Canal d'Ille-et-Rance
- Forêt de Rennes
- Le marché des Lices. Place des Lices, every Saturday morning, 06:00 to 13:30. Established in 1622, this huge food market is spread out over a number of streets and halls, selling fruit, veg, a vast array of fish, crêpes, galettes, fresh meat and other French delicacies such as wine, snails and cheese. It gets very busy, so can be best enjoyed before 11:00. Don't leave without sampling a galette-saucisse, the local specialty composed of a fried sausage rolled on a fresh galette (local, savory not sweet, crêpe). This snack costs about €2.50. The market is just 8 minutes walk from the main bus & metro station, .
- Other markets take place every day in different neighborhoods:
- * Le Blosne – Place de Zagreb – 07:00–13:00 (metro station )
- * Cleunay – Rue Jules Lallemand – 07:00–12:30 (bus-stop , lines 9, 13)
- * Maurepas – Place d'Erlangen – 07:00–12:30
- * Jeanne d'Arc – Blvd Alexis Carrel – 07:00–12:45 ( line C1, 14; bus-stop , lines C3, 31, 44)
- * Bour L'Eveque – Square Simone Morand – 07:00–12:30 (bus-stop , lines 11, 14, 54, 55, 56)
- * Bréquigny – Place Albert Bayet – 07:00–12:30 (bus-stop or , lines C5, 13 59 & 72)
- * Le Blosne – Place de Zagreb – 07:00–13:00 (metro station )
- * Les Lices – Place des Lices – 07:00–13:30
Fun Club 35Get down Place Ste Anne on Rue d'Echange, make a left on rue de Dinan and make on right on rue Pierre Gourdel right after the Westport Inn. You'll find a tiny place to play squash (€4-8 per person for an hour) or dance Rock 'n Roll or salsa. The owner might speak a little bit too fast, but you'll find great prices and some nice people in there.
phone: +33 2 99 36 28 10address: 8, avenue des GayeullesAn ice rink which isn't too expensive. To get there, it's the number 3 bus, with Patinoire the required stop.
Watch football (soccer) at
Stade Rennes FCThey play in Ligue 1, the top tier of French football, and often qualify for European tournaments. The stadium, capacity 29,778, is called Roazhon Park after the Breton word for Rennes; it's 4 km west of the city centre off ring-road N136.
Les Champs Libres is a brand new building in which you'll find le musée de Bretagne, l'espace des Sciences and the bibliothèque municipale. It's a wonderful place where you can learn a lot about Rennes, about Brittany, and about sciences and history. There are a lot of exhibitions (temporary and permanent), forums, and debates. There's also an outside café overhanging Place Charles de Gaulle where you can meet people and talk about whatever you feel like. If you feel like reading newspapers, head to the room in front of you when you enter that building, choose your favourite one and sit with other peers. But if you want to have a nice look at the city centre, head to last floor of the public library and enjoy. Don't forget to be quiet or they'll remind you! If you don't feel like going to the movies, you can climb up to the planetarium (around €7 for exposition and planetarium) and enjoy 1 hr 30 min of live "show" about space, stars, legends. Check the schedule on their website for your favourite theme.
Fest-noz is a Breton, not French, word meaning festival of the night. It is a traditional ball where people of all generations meet, listen to traditional music, drink beer or chouchen, and dance to Breton music. Most of them take place on Saturdays, but you can find some on Thursdays or Fridays. Most are advertised via posters on streets and around the universities, in addition to a website that gathers most of Fest-Noz nights in Brittany. Admission is usually €5-8 per person, but bigger events as Yaouank (a huge fest-noz in Rennes, Oct or Nov) are little bit more expensive.
As students represent a quarter of Rennes' population, you will probably find people walking (or staggering) in the city centre. This is especially true on Thursdays which is traditionally students day, as many of them go back home on Friday for the weekend. But for a few years, city centre residents have been complaining about heavy drinking and disturbances of the peace at night; so the former préfète of Ille et Vilaine, Bernadette Malgorn, enforced the law and decided to close bars earlier. The result was that it drained all the people out at the same time, and created problems with the police for a few months. This is where associations, organizations and city hall intervened. The idea of opening concert halls and public places to occupy these young people by making play and games available gradually caught on. The concept, running during school time, is to propose four different free activities every Thursday during school time.
- Dazibao organized by the CRIJ Bretagne opened from 10pm to 3am, is a meeting place. Discover new people, new music, multimedia, fair trade products, etc.
- Bulles d'Art is the time to discover local bands in concert halls or in the café-spectacle. Full ticket is €5 for under 25.
- The Nuit découvertes (from 22:00 to 02:00) is to create, taste, exchange, play, move, try games, improvisation, visual art, music.
- The Nuit du Sport (from 22:00 to 03:00) opportunity to try innovative or new sports (kin ball, peteca, ultimate, speedminton, etc.)
CinemasThere are four cinemas in Rennes.
Braderies(annual stock sale)
St Martin, autres, etonnante braderie de rennes
Festivals in Brittany
- Base products:
- Half-salted butter (used in lots of local food, but also served on table and on bread slices at breakfast).
- Many fruits, including many local varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and raspberries.
- Many vegetables, including multiple varieties of salads, carrots, peas, green beans, and white beans.
- Galette (Breton salted crêpe made with buckwheat flour, locally named sarrasin, gluten-free).
- Galettes-saucisses (roasted pork sausage wrapped in a galette, typically sold outdoor as a fast-food on markets, and in festive and sportive events)
- Kig-ha-farz (traditional festive familial food with long and complex preparation in farms but found also in some restaurants)
- Châtaignes grillées (roasted chestnuts)
- Crêpe (made with wheat flour, various featuring but the typical one is just with melted salted butter and granulated sugar: taste the "crêpe suzette", with melted butter, orange or lime juice and zests, and flammed with an alcolhol, generally Grand-Marnier, Curaçao or even a Breton Chouchen for the "crêpe chouchen" variant)
- Far Breton (soft and creamy buttered cake, featured with pruneaux, i.e. dried unpitted prunes)
- Kouign Amann (typical Breton cake, 100% pure butter, delicious !)
- Galettes et palets bretons (powdery crackers with salted butter)
- Quatre-quarts, or barre bretonne (soft buttery cake, commonly served at breakfast or at end of afternoon)
- Caramels au beurre salé
- Lait ribot (half-fermented milk, also served with boiled chestnuts)
- Chouchen (alcohol based on fermented honey in apple cider) or Hydromel (alcohol based on fermented honey in water)
- Cidre (hard apple cider): traditionally still (served with meats), but now more commonly sparkling with several flavors ("cidre bouché", typically served in crêperies with salted galettes and sweetened crêpes)
- Local cola brands: Breizh Cola (the most well-known and most successful regional cola sold in France just second after a well-known international brand), Britt Cola (flavoured with salted caramel, the third cola sold in Britanny), Human Cola (the first humanitary soft drink, formely named U.man Cola, the third cola sold in Britanny, initially brewed in Douarnenez, now distributed throughout France)
- There is a large shopping mall at Place du Colombier about 300 m north west of the train station. The Metro stops there (). C & A and Habitat are two of the stores that are in the mall.
- La Visitation is a shopping mall in the center close to Place Sainte Anne. You'll find two main stores; H&M and Saturn and some others. This little shopping mall links the Place Ste Anne to Place Hoche where is the law university.
- If you're looking for high budget shopping mall, les Galleries Lafayette in the center on the quais (docks), almost Place de la République, are made for you. You'll find food, clothes, games, make-up, furniture, and perfume.
- On the edge of the city you'll find other large shopping malls, which include big supermarkets. This includes Centre Alma, centre commercial de Cleunay, Grand quartier, or centre commercial de Cesson-Sévigné.
- Rue d'Orléans and Rue le Bastard are two streets linking Place de la République to Place Sainte-Anne through Place de la Mairie. There are stores everywhere for everything!
- If you're looking for traveling books or maps, La Librairie du Voyage will be happy to help you. It's one of the few places you can find relevant information and qualified people.
Rue Saint-Georgeshas innumerable creperies. This street has a certain olde world charm.
Rue de Saint-Malois the equivalent of Rue Saint-Michel but for restaurants. You'll find some nice "around the world" restaurants. Try the kebabs there, which at only €5, are a cheap filling lunch.
Crêperie Sainte-Annephone: +33 2 99 79 22 72address: 5 Place Sainte-AnneA very nice crêperie where you can also enjoy very good ice creams.
Crêperie de la Placephone: +33 2 99 79 01 43address: 6 Place Sainte AnneOne of the best crêperies in Rennes: you can eat delicious galettes and crêpes at a cheap price.
Boulangerie Hocheaddress: 17 Rue HocheThis is one of the best bakeries in Rennes. It is a bit pricey though, so keep this in mind. But, if you are up for treating yourself, they have a great raspberry tart!
Boulangerie La Fournée Saint-Micheladdress: Place Sainte-AnneOne of the few shops open in the city centre on a Sunday afternoon, they do a range of flavoured breads and reasonably priced desserts
Le Fournil Vasselotphone: +33 2 99 79 02 07address: 13 Rue VasselotThis is one of the best and famous bakeries in Rennes. Lot of breads, cakes, viennoiseries (probably the best buttered croissants in Rennes)
Fine diningRennes has 2 Michelin-starred restaurants, and there are 2 others in neighboring towns.
phone: +33 2 99 65 64 21address: 12, rue de l'Arsenal1-star restaurant.
phone: +33 2 23 47 82 74address: Hôtel de la Tour d'Auvergne, 20, blvd de la Tour d’Auvergne1-star restaurant.
phone: +33 2 99 62 52 55address: Pont d’Acigné, D392, 35530 Noyal-sur-Vilaine1-star restaurant.
phone: +33 2 99 68 79 35address: 1, impasse du vieux Bourg, 35760 Saint Grégoire1-star restaurant.
Baranticphone: +33 2 99 79 29 24address: 4 Rue Saint-MichelIf you're a beer lover, this should be the place where to go. It has 18 draught beers with local and Belgian beers. You can also discover some saucisson (dried sausage). The best time to visit is during the a sunny afternoon, in the middle of crowded terraces, with your favourite beer and saucisson.
Couleur Caféphone: +33 2 23 40 07 13address: 27 Rue LegraverendSpecialized in Guinness Book of Records cocktails (more than 2,000 types) and rum.
Funky Munkyaddress: 37 rue Saint-MelaineA cool vodka/cocktail bar. Drinks are relatively cheap - the more you buy, the cheaper it gets. The bar serves 30 flavours of vodka, numerous cocktails (including a Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmos, Sex on the Beach, and a delicious drink called a Purple Turtle), and a few beers on tap or in bottles. The bar hosts a poetry slam every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, and a quiz night every Monday from about 20:00 on. The bartender (and owner) speaks French and English, so don't worry about having to speak perfect French.
Haricot Rougephone: +33 2 99 79 36 23address: 10 Rue BaudrairieWith a smoother feeling, serving hot chocolate and having board games.
phone: +33 2 99 14 04 68address: 11 Rue du Manoir de ServignéMostly a music hall, not a bar.
phone: +33 2 99 36 32 38address: 70 Rue Jean GuéhennoA bar famous for the concerts there at a time, it is also an excellent place to have lunch.
phone: +33 2 99 79 38 76address: 7 Place du ParlementVery popular Irish pub. Ask anyone and someone will point you in the right direction. St. Patrick's Day at this place is insane - the pub becomes packed to capacity. Same rules apply for any big sporting events. Monday nights 19:00-23:00 and Thursday nights from 19:00-close are happy hour. A pint of beer, stout or ale is €4 (and in some cases, less) during happy hour - just check the little posters up on the walls at the bar (or ask the bartenders, they're all very friendly and most, if not all, of them are anglophones). Not only do the anglophones love this place, but the French do too.
Westport Innphone: +33 2 99 35 05 43address: 36 Rue de DinanAnother Irish pub. It's smaller, but it's got an authentic feel to it, and the drinks are slightly cheaper than at O'Connell's. But, according to the sign on the window, you're not allowed to bring in nuclear weapons, so if you're packing, go elsewhere.
L'Artiste AssoifféA typical classic French bar with a great selection of drinks and an outdoor patio that allows smoking. Excellent place to meet up with friends and hang out over a couple of beers, coffee, or a glass of wine.
Le Bateau Ivre
Le Mille Potesphone: +33 2 30 02 05 53address: 4 Boulevard de la LibertéA quiet place at the end of the afternoon, with a large choice of beers and vines. You can find in that bar people who practice Latin dances, contribute to Wikimedia projects, "remix" museums or libraries, enjoy soccer, etc. There are regular concerts with nice bands and special events for foreigners.
L'Heure du Jeuphone: +33 2 99 31 43 48address: 11 Boulevard MagentaYou like games, card games, board games or just playing? L'heure du jeu ("play time") has 1,000 of them! Good and quite a must brunch on some Sundays mornings. You have to call for a reservation.
These are bars that have an extended closing time of 03:00. There are bouncers for some of them.
Mondo BizarroThe punk rock place to be.
Délicatessenphone: +33 99 78 23 41address: 7, allée Ralier du Baty
phone: +33 2 99 30 21 95address: 45, boulevard de la Tour d'AuvergneGay-friendly.
phone: +33 2 99 66 54 78address: Le Haut Val, Route du meuble, 35760 Saint-Grégoire
phone: +33 2 99 35 42 42address: 20, boulevard de la Libertéreservable
phone: +33 7 86 15 09 89address: 27, place du Colombier
Youth Hostel10, Canal St Martin. This is found in a pleasant area by the canal run by friendly staff. You have to be a member of the YHA which will cost €7 for a years membership. The hostel itself is priced at €20.35.
phone: +33 2 99 36 91 22address: Parc des Gayeulles, rue du Professeur Maurice Audin, 35700The at Rennes is rather large. To get there, take the number C3 bus, and get off at the Gayeulles Piscine stop. The neighbouring park has much to offer, including an ice rink, a pool and sports facilities. It makes a good stop for Cyclo-rando on V2 cycleroad (St-Malo to Arzal), as the camping is just from the Canal d'Ille-et-Rance. 126 locations: 74 for RV/caravans, 24 for tents with vehicles, 19 Cyclo-rando locations, 9 basic stops for RV.
- Many hotels can be found Place de la gare, and on the avenue Jean Janvier going northward from the north exit of the train station.
- phone: +33 2 99 27 54 00address: 19, blvd de Sévigné, 35700
- phone: +33 1 43 12 48 70address: 30, quai Duguay Trouin, 35000
- It is fairly easy to travel in France, therefore it would be clever to take advantage of the beautiful cities and coastal scenery in Bretagne (Fougères, Dinan, Vannes, Carnac, Lorient, Guidel, Finistère, Vitré,...).
- Saint-Malo, a wonderful coastal town on the English Channel, is only 45 minutes away by TGV and usually costs less than €10. Buses are also available for cheaper but take a bit longer.