What is Rennes France famous for

Rennes Attractions: Top 15 Attractions & Activities

You planRennes, the capital of Brittany, for a weekend or a short break too visit?

To help you plan your stay, I have created this city guide with all the sights and attractions in Rennes and its surroundings.

I'll start with that 15 must-see things to do and see in Rennes and surroundings and then give you my tips and itineraries to visit Rennes in 1, 2 or 3 days.

You can also find a list at the end of this article my favorite restaurants and accommodation in Rennes.

So, what is there to do in Rennes? Which are they best activities and places to visit?

Let's discover it!


1. Rennes Historic Center

We start this trip in the city by visiting the historical center of Renneswhere most of the attractions are located.

Here you can discover one of the city's peculiarities: hers Half-timbered houses with colorful facades. You may not know, but Rennes is one of the cities in France with the largest number of half-timbered houses.

There are 286 in total! To admire them you take the beautiful cobbled streets like Le Chapitre street, Psalette and Saint-Sauveur street.

In the old town are also most of the monuments of Rennesthat you absolutely have to see. For example you can the town hall, the opera or the cathedral see. These buildings are part of our most important things to discover, I'll tell you a little more about them below.

And as in every historical center, there are of course many cafés and restaurants for eating and drinking.

Begin your visit to the city by going to the Rennes Tourist Information Center, located on Saint-Yves Street. Getting a printed tourist map is always handy!

2. Rennes Cathedral

Rebuilt several times, under construction for centuries and finally restored between 2009 and 2014, the Rennes Cathedral of St. Peter (“Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes” in French) surprise you.

With a more classic exterior, it is inside where you can admire its true beauty. Inspired by Italy, you can make gorgeous stained glass windows, one roman altar, submit decorations and paintings beautifully decorated vault and see the great organs from the 19th century.

The reason for all this splendor is that the Saint Pierre Cathedral the The coronation place of the dukes and duchesses of Brittany was.

As you can imagine, some important moments in the history of France and Brittany have unfolded here! A great and important place to visit while in Rennes!

3. The Portes Mordelaises

The “Portes Mordelaises“Were the main entrance to the city from the 15th century.

This building consists of a large door that allowed the passage of vehicles and a small pedestrian door that opened from 2 symmetrical towers is surrounded, which are provided with Maschikulis. The gate was opened by a double drawbridge closed and served as a defense system for the city.

Back then had to all the dukes of Brittany swear an oath under this door, before her enthronement, which gave her the nickname "King's Gate".

Today is this gate one of the few remains of the Rennes city walls. It has been badly mistreated by the weather, but an ongoing development project aims to create a promenade along the city walls.

Don't hesitate to take a look at that Portes Mordelaises throw during your visit to the historic center. You are in the vicinity of Rennes Cathedral.

4th Marché des Lices market square

If on a Saturday morning in Rennes you should be on the Market on the "Place des Lices" go, the second largest food market in France.

In a beautiful setting, surrounded by large half-timbered houses, you will find almost 300 local producerswho sell fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, meats and cheeses.

It has been for almost four centuries an important event in the life of the city for Rennais and tourists alike. A great place to buy quality groceries at great prices. The market is mainly dedicated to food, but there is also a very nice part that sells flowers.

Don't go before you get the have tried the famous Galette Saucisse (galette sausage), a well-known snack in Upper Brittany. A joy!

5. Rennes Town Hall Square

The Rennes Town Hall Square ("Place de l’Hôtel de Ville") is the most beautiful square in the city and because of its 2 historical monuments: town hall and Opera worth a visit.

The town hall was built in 1720 after the great fire that devastated Rennes. The architect decided to group 3 monuments in one: The town hall, the courthouse and the bell tower in the middle. The result is a very aesthetic, concave-shaped building.

The town hall also houses its own little pantheon, a room decorated with marble slabs engraved with the names of all the Rennais (residents of Rennes) who died fighting for France. You can visit it for free.

Compared to the town hall is the second notable building of the square, the Rennes Opera. Its rounded shape was designed so that it fits perfectly into the curved shape of the town hall. This gives the square a certain originality, but at the time of its inauguration it was nowhere near the unanimous approval of the Rennais. With only 642 seats, this opera house is one of the smallest in France.

The opera house opens its doors several times a year with open visits and rehearsals. Of course, you can also buy tickets to attend an event. Every two years, the last opera of the season is broadcast live on big screens across the city, introducing this art to a wider audience.

All information about the Renner Opera House can be found on the official website (in French).

Since one of the last colonies of house swallows has settled over the front doors of the town hall, a protective tarpaulin has been put up to prevent bird droppings at the end of weddings!
If you are in Rennes for a few days go to the town hall square in the evening, the lighting of the opera house is very nice!

6. The Parliament of Brittany

The Parliament of Brittany ("Parlement de Bretagne") is the most famous monument of Rennes and one of the symbols of Brittany.

Seat of parliament until 1790, it initially served as a court of law. Destroyed by fire in 1994, it has now been beautifully restored and houses the Cour d’appel de Bretagne and the Cour d’Assise of Ille-et-Vilaine.

You canvisit parliament, But first you have to contact the tourist office, as this organizes the visits. It is one of the few places in France that combines the exercise of justice with tourist tours.

On this visit you canthe most famous room in Parliament, the Grand’Chambre, with its gilded wooden coffered ceiling (unique in Europe) and its painted canvases.

Every evening in summer you can go to the facade of the Parliament of Brittany see a light show.

7. Thabor Park

The Thabor Park is a great place to relax in Rennes, both for tourists and residents who call it the "Central Park of Rennes".

In an area of ​​more than 10 hectares, this park combines a French garden, an English garden, a cave, pools and waterfalls, one Botanical Garden, a bird house, a music kiosk and a rose Garden with more than 2,000 rose varieties.

With playgrounds for children you havefound the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your family to spend and enjoy nature.

For the more sporty, the park also offers one 1.5 km running routeso there is no excuse to skip sports while on vacation

In summer, every Sunday evening, you can also go to Participate in music and dance showsorganized in the music kiosk and in the open-air theater.

Finally, im Thabor Park hosts the Myth Festival every year, a spring festival of mixed art.

activities: Stories for children, music, theater and also gastronomy. For this last purpose, a special tent will be set up for the 50 invited cooks who will present their kitchen.

8. The Champs Libres

The Champs Libres are the cultural center of Rennes. There are lots of things to see and do!

This complex consists of:

  • The Brittany Museum, which represents the region from prehistory to the present through a rich collection of objects.
  • The science center and its planetarium, which offers a variety of temporary exhibitions on biodiversity, bullet trains, food and dinosaurs. Become children Merlin's laboratory especially appreciate where they can discover science through games. And the planetarium is a great place to learn more about the universe.
  • A huge 6-story library which not only invites you to read, but also hosts temporary exhibitions. The glass facades allow you to have a beautiful panorama to enjoy over the whole city of Rennes.

On the official website of Champs Libresyou will find all information about the temporary exhibitions, entrance fees and schedules.

9. Rennes ‘Museum of Fine Arts

Another nice museum to visit in Rennes is this Fine Arts Museum ("Musée des Beaux-Arts").

The museum, created in 1794 from a work of art confiscated after the Revolution, thanks in particular to the curiosity collection of the Marquis de Robien (Speaker of the Parliament of Brittany until 1756), has seen its collection grow over the centuries.

Today the greatest artists are like Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and Donatello represented. The visitor travels through history and artistic movements, from Egyptian antiquities to contemporary art. There is sure to be a painting or drawing that will inspire you!

You can find more information about the Rennes Art Museum at its official website.

10. La Vilaine à Rennes

Another major tourist attraction of Rennes is the River Vilainethat crosses the city from side to side and allows you to do activities both on and on the water.

You can take the walk at the Mail François Mitterrand start from where you walk the quays from La Vilaine can achieve. Continue walking along the quays, admire the buildings and boats and stop at the (Jardins de la Confluence) at.

This green area with pontoons, walkways and benches is very pleasant and quiet. It is also the meeting point for fishermen.

The La Vilaine riverside is also very pleasant by bike. The main cycle route is 45 kilometers long and starts at the Post François Mitterand. You canStart from the center of Rennes and take the bike path to the Apigné ponds.

If you go further south, admire the locks, castles and mills. Visit the Boël Mill (Moulin de Boël), which offers one of the most beautiful panoramas on the river.

And while you're at it why not try a nautical activity on the vilaine? Whether in Canoe, paddle or bargethere is something for everyone to do. Rent what you like best and enjoy a little adventure!

Activities around Rennes

If you are in Rennes for several days, it is a good idea to leave the city to discover the sights of splendid Brittany! Here are my 5 favorite things to do around Rennes.

11. Saint-Malo

Saint-Malo, the corsair town, is just under an hour's drive or train hour from Rennes away. Your city walls are the attractionwhich you should definitely see because they offer breathtaking views of the beaches, the harbor, the forts and the city.

At low tide you can also take a walk on the island of Grand be ("l’ilot du Grand be").

The best time to visit Saint Malo for me is at the beginning of June. The weather will be good and you will avoid the high season of tourism in summer!

12. Brocéliande forest

The famous Brocéliande forest, the cradle of many legends and in particular that of King Arthur, Merlin the Wizard and the Knight Lancelot, is just under 45 minutes from Rennes.

If youfor Rennes and its surroundings have decided, this is the ideal place for a family getaway in the great outdoors!

And if you're single, don't forget that Barenton Fountain and visit his magic bubbles that are supposed to help young girls find a man 😋.

13. Fougères medieval city

I recommend you, To visit Fougères, a very beautiful medieval town, just 40 minutes from Rennes away.

She is known for her gcobbled streets, half-timbered houses and especially for theirs beautiful medieval castle. My advice: take the walk on the city walls to enjoy the panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.

14. Vitré medieval city

Vitré is another medieval city just 40 minutes from Rennes. As in Fougères, you will find old cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and a medieval castle. It's up to you to choose the city that suits you best because personally I love both! If you like medieval architecture they really are the best places near Rennes.

If you have enough time, it would be a good idea to visit both as they are only a 25-minute drive away from each other.

15. Essé - La Roche aux Fées

Just 40 minutes from Rennes away, you will find a geological peculiarity: La Roche-aux-Fées (The Fairy Rock), the largest dolmen in France. The facility is impressive their 40 stone blockssome of which weigh more than 40 tons.

Legend has it that this place was built by the fairy Viviane with the help of other fairies. For lovers: both go to the monument, each of you in a different direction. Count the stones if you find the same number, you are made for each other!

1 day in Rennes

At a day in Rennes I advise you to do the following:

  • Start the visit in the Old townto admire the half-timbered houses.
  • Enter the Cathedral of St. Peter of Rennes.
  • Go through the Mordelaises gates.
  • Lunch break in one of the many restaurants in the old town
  • Visit that Parliament of Brittany
  • Spend a quiet late afternoon in the Thaborpark.

2 days in Rennes

For one 2-day stay in Rennes all you have to do is take the itinerary for the first day and add the following attractions:

  • If you have kids or just love visiting science museums, start the day with the Science Center and the Planetarium.
  • Then visit the Fine Arts Museum.
  • lunch break
  • Walking, biking or boating along the Vilaine.

3 days in Rennes

In 3 days in Rennes you have time to discover all the sights of the city and its surroundings. You can do the third day Saint Malo or that Brocéliande forest dedicate.


Where to eat in Rennes

  • La Saint Georges: The restaurant located in the center of Rennes is so successful that the chef has opened 2 more. Hands down the best pancake shop in Rennes. The Saint Georges offers delicious and original pancakes made with fresh and quality products. Funny detail, all salty cakes are named after a famous George. For once you can have fun with Georges Clooney!
  • Le 2 rue des Dames: Located in the historic center of Rennes. Restaurant that offers great seasonal dishes made with quality products. The best value for money in town, with a lunch menu from € 13.
  • Café Breton: Located on Rue Nantaise, very close to the Cathedral. This rustic and typical Breton restaurant offers traditional cuisine made with fresh seasonal products. The dishes are plentiful and available at a very good price.

Accommodation in Rennes

  • Hotel Arcantis le Voltaire: 2 kilometers from Rennes Cathedral. This simple but clean and comfortable hotel offers rooms from € 42 per night, breakfast from € 8. Pros: the quiet location, the terrace, the free parking lot and a rich breakfast. The best choice for a cheap stay in Rennes!
  • Aparthôtel Adagio Access Centers Rennes: 5 minutes walk from the center of Rennes. Modern and bright studio apartment with fully equipped kitchen from € 72 per night, breakfast for € 8.50. Pros: the ability to cook in the kitchen, close to the city center, very quiet hotel, friendly staff.
  • Odalys Appart’hôtel Lorgeril: Very close to the François Mitterand post office. Modern and spacious studio apartment with kitchenette from € 80, breakfast from € 12. What I loved: location, quiet room, comfortable bedding and great hotel staff.
  • Balthazar Hotel & Spa - MGallery by Sofitel: 5-star hotel in the city center, 200 m from the art museum. Very comfortable double rooms from € 170, breakfast from € 25. Plus points: the spa, the beautiful room decoration, the perfect bed linen, the safe, the tranquility. The best hotel for a luxury stay in Rennes!

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