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 2020 developments:

  • Contemporary art extravaganza during the Summer of 2020 in Rennes, capital of Brittany, featuring an exhibition of works from the acclaimed Pinault Collection .

About Top French Cities -

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency