Situated in north-western France, the city of Rennes is the capital of the Brittany region and the Ille-et-Vilaine department. One third of its population of 200,000 are students, which gives the town a lively atmosphere and vibrant night life.
Sitting at the intersection of highways leading to the country’s northwest, Rennes is easily accessible by car. If driving, from Paris take the A11 then A81, take the A84 if coming from the north and the N137 from the south.
As with most destinations in France, the fastest and easiest way to reach Rennes is by taking the high-speed TGV train, with several services running daily from the Gare Motparnasse station in Paris, costing €50 for a return fare. The journey from Paris to Rennes on the TGV takes around two and a half hours. There is also a TGV service running directly to Rennes from Terminal 2 in Charles de Gaulle airport.
Regular trains also stop in Rennes and several towns along the way. These trains will take much longer to get you to your destination than the TGV but cost a lot less. Next to the train station is the bus station, with services to and from local, national and international destinations running regularly.
The Rennes airport located 5km from the city centre offers flight to and from cities in the UK and Ireland as well as domestic routes. Bus number 57 links the airport with the city.
Within Rennes itself, an excellent public transport system is available, which its operator Star claims offers the cheapest fares in France. There are over 50 routes on available as well as a metro service in the city’s centre that runs every 5 minutes. All bus stops have timetable and map information.
Bikes are also available for hire from over 80 stations around town and Rennes has well-maintained bike paths throughout. An especially pleasant ride is along the canal which is both picturesque and flat.
There are several historical sites to see in Rennes, including:
- The 17th century Parlement of Brittany building;
- Basilica Saint-Sauveur
- The Mordelaises Gate which features a drawbridge and chalet with towers
- St Yves Chapel which now houses the Tourism Office
- Notre-Dame-en-Saint –Melaine basilica
- The Municipal St George Pool featuring mosaics and the its adjoining gardens.
Other things you should try and see while in Rennes are:
- The Thabor, a park containing stunning displays of plant life from around the globe
- Le marche des Lices, a market held in the Place des Lices in the town’s centre every Saturday morning
- Mont Saint-Michel, a granite island off the Normandy coast with beautiful scenery and historical buildings.