France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   What to See & Do in Rennes, France




Place Sainte-Anne

The conflagration of 1720 that destroyed many buildings in the historic center of Rennes was largely kept from the Place Sainte-Anne. Its wonderful medieval half-timbered houses now surround the square, making it the perfect location for a rest, a drink, a meal, and people-watching. There are a lot of restaurants, as well as buskers and other performers. The Tourist Information Office is located in the Jacobin Convent, just off of the Place.

Place des Lices

Saturday is the day to visit Place des Lices, when the weekly market is in progress. Once the site of jousting competitions, it now hosts one of the largest markets in France. There has been a market at this location since 1622, and the nearby half-timbered houses reflect this history. You'll find all sorts of seafood from the Brittany coast, as well as local produce, cheeses, prepared foods, and more.

Portes Mordelaises

Near the Place des Lices stand the Portes Mordelaises, which served as the main entrance to the walled town. The site was rebuilt in the 15th century, and 21st century renovations have opened it up more for visitors and spruced up the nearby gardens. Its towers are noted for their machiolations, holes through which hot oil or other substances could be launched at attackers. The portes are also referred to as the royal gate; the Dukes of Brittany would go through them en route to the nearby Cathedral, after swearing to defend the independence of Brittany.

Street in Rennes, Brittany, France
A street in old Rennes...

Cathedral of Saint Peter

This cathedral, site of the coronation of the dukes and duchesses of Brittany, was restored in the late 19th century. It houses an impressive organ, numerous vaults and chapels. Its Treasury includes an ornate alterpiece.

City Hall and Opera House

After the great fire of 1720, a new Place de l'Hôtel de Ville was built, including the impressive building that houses both the City Hall and the Court of Justice, connected by the lovely clock tower. A century later, the lovely opera house was built, its rounded front reflecting the central curve of the City Hall building. You can visit the City Hall, and the Salle des Mariages, or Wedding Hall, is particularly interesting (though you can't visit if there is a wedding happening). And the opera house, though small, is known for its decor and programming.

Palais du Parlement de Bretagne

Constructed from 1688 to 1655 for the parliament of Brittany, the architect of this eye-catching building was the same as for the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris. It now houses the Court of Appeal. Have a look inside, particularly the ornate Main Chamber.

Parc du Thabor

Not that Rennes is an urban weight on your soul, but if you need a getaway to nature, stroll through the Thabor Gardens, 10 hectares (24 acres) of flowers and lawns, and an aviary. Inspect the French Garden, the English Garden, and the Botanical Garden of 3000 species.

Musée de Bretagne

Brittany's history as an independent duchy, not part of France, is proudly proclaimed in the Musée de Bretagne in the Champs Libres building not far from the Gare de Rennes SNCF.

Rennes Hotels

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Tourist Information

About Rennes



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Place Sainte-Anne, Rennes, Brittany, France

Half-timbered houses in the
Place Sainte-Anne, Rennes.

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