RENNES – www.tourisme-rennes.com
Look left: there are some of the 286 painted, timber-framed houses so colorfully emblematic of Brittany’s medieval past. Look right: there’s the modern Champs Libres, a collection of state-of-the-art history and science museums. Left again: there’s the 17th-century Parliament of Brittany, arguably the region’s most prestigious monuments. And right? It’s Atalante, one of France's first technopoles. That’s Rennes in a nutshell – a well-crafted interface between past and present, where thousands of modern Bretons flock to the Yaouank Festival for the fest-noz (traditional dance) and certainly a good dose of local food and cider.
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.
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)
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 (leschampslibres.fr)
galette saucisse: pork sausage wrapped in a buckwheat galette (Breton-style hot dog)
cider: traditionally served in ceramic bowls (or wide cups), not glasses
François Henri Pinault: billionaire businessman who has been Chairman and CEO of Kering since 2005, and Chairman of Groupe Artémis since 2003
Also in the Area
Mont Saint-Michel: an astonishing and compact Benedictine abbey-island that is a remarkable example of medieval religious and military architecture
Saint Malo: the Corsair City with malouinières (privateers mansions), beaches, tides, hiking, kite-surfing, sand yachting, diving and more
Forêt de Brocéliande: a vast magical forest of Arthurian legend (in which a magical fountain and Merlin’s tomb may lie), the last tract of which is believed to be the Forêt de Paimpont
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
For more about what to see and do in and around Rennes, including on the “Art and History in Western France” itinerary, visit www.topfrenchcitybreaks.com.