Rennes and Brittany's historic gateways

  • Rennes - Maisons en pans de bois
  • Le Château de Fougères
  • Jardins de la Ballue

Welcome to the capital! The capital of Brittany, that is. You’ll love the cheerful atmosphere of this forward-thinking region that’s switched on and full of creativity. Want to know more about Rennes and the surrounding area? The focus is on youth and culture, but there’s also a series of fortified castles that formed the region’s line of defence in the past. Only an hour and half from Paris by TGV, Rennes is the perfect place for a city break, with nature thrown in as a bonus.

Unmissable sites

Destination

Place Rallier du Baty — Rennes

A capital place to stay in the west

Young, contemporary, dynamic… That’s Rennes. Brittany’s capital is well known for its vibrant student life and its rich historical heritage. Take a look for yourself: the medieval streets, the Parlement de Bretagne building, the great Parc du Thabor… And what about the Marché des Lices? It’s one of the most colourful fresh produce markets in France. Why not come for a break in this city of trendy boutiques and lively bars that’s not too big to get around easily on foot or by metro. There’s a range of fun web apps on different themes to help you connect to a past that’s bang up to date.

Rennes et les portes de Bretagne — Carte
Château de Vitré

Brittany’s defensive castles

Knights and princesses still haunt this place. The medieval fortresses of Fougères, Vitré and Châteaugiron, at the gateways to Brittany, have lost none of their magic. They were built on the outer limits of the region to repel enemy attack. They all have keeps, drawbridge and ramparts that will fascinate anyone who enjoys heritage and tales of great deeds. And there may still be hidden treasure there, who knows...? Go geocaching to break into the strongholds of the Marches of Brittany.

Les Tombées de la nuit

It’s party time!

In summer or winter, there are loads of festivals going on: it’s a tradition. Every art form and every taste gets a chance to take to the stage. Contemporary music? The Transmusicales festival is for you. Storytelling? Check out Mythos. Street entertainment? Don’t miss the Tombées de la Nuit – nightfall festival, at Rennes. Modern circus? Head to the Cirque ou Presque, at Noyal-Châtillon-sur-Seche. The magic of an open-air performance? Les Etincelles Aquatiques at Martigné-Ferchaud. And the high spot of the programme has to be the wonderful alliance that combines the best of contemporary art with traditional Breton music and dance, at Yaouank and La Granjagoul.

Forêt Adrénaline

Relax and fill your lungs with fresh air

Green and blue are the dominant colours of the countryside around Rennes, with its woodlands and lakes. The various open spaces can be used for all kinds of outdoor activities. Fancy the tree-top trail in the forest of Villecartier? No problem. Sailboarding on Boulet Lake? Enjoy. Canoe your way down the Cousesnon valley? An unforgettable experience. Put on your walking shoes, get out your golf clubs, pump up your bike tyres... Getting close to nature is the best way of exploring Rennes and the gateways to Brittany.

Bold contemporary art

Rennes provides a great showcase for contemporary art. The FRAC, or regional contemporary art collection ( Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain), the private art galleries, the Ateliers de Rennes biennale (biennial programme of art workshops), street art and surprising state commissioned works dotted around the town are proof of that. But works of modern art can be displayed to good effect in the countryside as well. Just look at the amazing Village de Bazouges-la-Pérouse. Or is that not quite big enough for you? Then play hide-and-seek behind the monumental sculptures scattered around the grounds of the Château des Pères, the Bois Orcan estate or the Ar Milin’ restaurant.

La Roche aux fées

The Roche-aux-Fées (Fairies’ Rock), a prehistoric temple

France’s biggest dolmen, erected 2,000 years ago, can be found at Essé. Its name - the Roche-aux-Fées – conjures up many mysteries... How did our Stone Age ancestors manage to build this burial chamber with stones weighing 40 tons? And what exactly was it for? Nobody knows. Legend says that they were given a hand by the fairy Vivienne and her friends… At winter solstice, get up at dawn to watch in wonder as it falls into perfect alignment with the sun. The magic never fades...

Bécherel (35)

Villages where the people love their work

Get off the beaten track! Stop at small villages of character in the heart of the countryside, where the residents have a real passion for what they do. At Bécherel, la Cité du Livre® (book town), you’re in book heaven with all the bookshops, specialist booksellers and book lovers. At Mellé, a Sustainable Village, the residents have made a commitment to a unique project. Find out more about the imaginative initiatives set up by this little community with its fine rural heritage: a town garden, themed walks, etc. At Lohéac, discover the world of luxury cars. And finally, Bazouges-la-Pérouse’s ‘Village’ will introduce you to contemporary artists.

La Vallée du Boël

Take to the canal

Turning the towpaths of the Vilaine river and the Ille-et-Rance canal into a trail for cyclists and walkers was a brilliant idea. One direction leads to Redon, the other to Saint-Malo. So now you can choose whether to walk, cycle or travel by barge. Take your time to explore the countryside and discover the biodiversity of these very special natural settings. To the south, the river goes off at a tangent to gurgle through the rocks at Boël, Pléchâtel and Corbinières. You can stop off there to enjoy a spot of family fun, hunting for geocache treasures...

Le Marché des Lices

Dinner’s ready!

Don’t miss a morsel: Rennes’ Marché des Lices, with 300 stallholders, is one of France’s biggest markets. It’s also one of the busiest, with the best choice of gourmet products, and it’s recognised as the home of the ‘galette-saucisse’ (a sausage in a buckwheat pancake). Then there’s the market at Guerche-de-Bretagne, which has been going for nearly a thousand years! The people from these parts enjoy their food. Local produce features on the menu of famous Michelin-starred restaurants in Brittany’s capital. You’ll also find it at the Ille-et-Bio food fair at Guichen. Want the recipe? Simplicity and generosity are the most important ingredients. Except maybe the flavour…

Parc Floral de Haute-Bretagne

Un petit tour au jardin

If gardens, parks and flowers are your thing, there are four places that will really put a smile on your face, each one dedicated to an outstanding botanical heritage. The Parc Botanique de Haute-Bretagne, the Château de la Ballue, the Parc du Boiscornillé and the Château du Bois Orcan have all been classified as ‘Remarkable Gardens of France’ and are perfect examples of their kind, with ancient trees, rare plant species and flowerbeds bursting with colour. These gardens are designed to make visitors feel happy and relaxed. The Parc de Thabor and the grounds of the Ar Milin’ restaurant and the Château des Rochers-Sévigné have looked, learned, and followed suit.

Brittany experiences

Things to see, Things to do

With TripAdvisor’s reviews from travellers

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