The capital of the region of Brittany, Rennes is a city with a rich history and culture, which has been named one of the most pleasant places to live in France. As a settlement, the city dates back to the Roman period, and has been an important player in several significant events in the history of France, including the Dreyfus Affair and the Second World War. The diversity of this heritage can be seen in the range of architectural styles which characterise the town, from Gallo-Roman remains, to timbered framed houses, to graceful Renaissance constructions, to modern builds made of glass and metal. If you walk down the rue du Chapitre, you will see all of these styles united in one street.
Rennes, and Brittany more generally, is home to two dialects of French, Breton and Gallo, which are spoken by a significant proportion of the inhabitants of the surrounding area, and even used as the language of teaching in a few bilingual schools in the city.
- Did you know that, in French, people from Rennes are called les Rennais ?
Things to see and do:
Palais Saint-Georges: This pleasing, symmetrical palace stands on the sight of an ancient Benedictine abbey, which was founded in the 11th century, and continued with the same function until the French Revolution, when the sisters were forced to leave.
The Ramparts: The fortifications that were constructed around the original settlement of Rennes in the Roman period have now largely been demolished, but it is still possible to visit the remains of the turrets and the walls at different points within the city.
Parc du Thabor: Containing over 3,000 species of plant, arranged in a series of beautiful flowerbeds, le Jardin botanique du Thabor is the perfect place to visit if you fancy a bit of peace and relaxation.
Musée des Beaux Arts: This varied and rich museum is one of the most important art galleries in France after Paris. It contains pieces from Ancient Egypt, as well as paintings and sketches by Botticelli, Rubens and Gauguin.
- Did you know that, during the 1980s, Rennes was referred to as the French town of rock and new wave music