Top French Cities - Rennes at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Rennes Tourist Office at

City region: Brittany

Population & what they are called: 213,454 inhabitants (2014 census), called Rennais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 3 h 25 min (220 miles) via the A11 and A81 autoroutes

  • by train: about 1 h 30 min by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Jean-Claude Bourlès, writer

  • Etienne Daho, singer-songwriter, actor and producer

  • François Henri Pinault, billionaire businessman

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Spared from destruction, the high-rise Mabilais building, with its famous totem tower and rooftop saucer, is where the Minitel (France’s precursor to the internet), chip cards and ADSL were invented.

  • Rennes has the highest number of painted timber-framed houses (286 of them) in Brittany.

Notable sites:

  • Palais du Parlement de Bretagne – one of Brittany’s most prestigious monuments, built in the 17th century (and site of a sound-and-light show in summer)

  • Cathédrale Saint-Pierre – a neoclassical cathedral with a history going back centuries

  • Ramparts – the 15th-century Portes Mordelaises and Tour Duchesne are impressive surviving segments of the city's original walls

Top annual events:

  • Rencontres Trans Musicales – premier event for contemporary music and new musical trends (

  • Yaouank Festival – revival of Breton music, featuring the biggest fest-noz (traditional dance) in Brittany (

  • Mettre en Scène Festival – a three-week dance and theater festival (

Most notable museums:

  • Les Champs Libres – an extensive cultural center that includes the Musée de Bretagne (devoted to the history of Brittany), the Espaces des Sciences (a science museum and planetarium) and more (

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts – a complete panorama of the history of painting (

  • Ecomusée du Pays de Rennes – set on one of Brittany's oldest farms and looking at agricultural history and rural life (

Culinary specialties:

  • galette saucisse – pork sausage wrapped in a buckwheat galette (Breton-style hot dog)

  • frigousse – a chicken fricassee with sweet chestnuts cooked in cider

  • Parlementin – a pastry made of almond brittle and cider-flavored apple sauce

Local wines & spirits:

  • cider – traditionally served in ceramic bowls (or wide cups), not glasses

  • lambig – a traditional spirit from Brittany made of double distilled cider

  • craft beer – more than a dozen new microbrasseries (microbreweries) have opened in recent years


  • Marché des Lices – a Saturday morning traditional market, the second largest in France

  • Les Halles – the large, daily, covered food market

  • Centre Alma – a modern mall with more than 100 stores and restaurants

Most popular night spots:

  • Hibou Grand Duc – local bar with live music and a wide selection of wine and beer

  • Le Nabuchodonosor – relaxed wine bar with a terrace in season or fireplace in winter

  • Le Mabilay – coffee shop and restaurant with Rennes’ largest terrace and different DJs every week

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Parc du Thabor – a large landscaped park in the center of the city

  • Parc des Gayeulles – the best way of getting into nature without having to get out of town

  • FRAC Bretagne – the regional contemporary art fund with exhibition halls, an auditorium, café, bookshop and documentation areas (

Local industries:

  • information and communication technologies – one of France's first technopoles, Rennes Atalante, was established in Rennes

  • agrifood – a large number of related firms, a campus called Agrocampus Ouest and even a large expo on the subject are based in Rennes

In Pop Culture:

  • Fleur de Tonnerre – released in 2017, a movie thriller about the biggest serial-killer of history, Hélène Jégado, guillotined in Rennes in 1852

  • Astérix et le chaudron – published in 1969, this comic sees Asterix and Obelix spend time in the Gallo-Roman city of Condate (current Rennes)

Major 2018 development:

  • The sixth Biennale d'Art Contemporaine will be held at Les Ateliers de Rennes, with Céline Kopp


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency
New York, 10022
United States