City summary: Rennes

Press release


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.

Fun Facts

  • 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.

Significant Site

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)

Extraordinary Exhibits

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 (

Delectable Delights

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

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

Legendary Local

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