The capital of the festive region and boasting remarkable architecture, Rennes is the perfect destination for a cultural break. On the agenda? A bit of history, a relaxing park and an electrifying science centre!
Sometimes dreamy, sometimes rebellious, this modern university city offers a jump back in time! First stop, Rennes Old Town. Here, the charming streets lined with half-timbered houses give the city a mediaeval atmosphere that's a bit different. Follow rue du Guesclin to St Saviour's Basilica, before discovering the sculpted figures on rue de la Psalette and the remarkable Rennes Cathedral, where the Dukes of Brittany were once crowned. Getting peckish on the way? Stop off in rue du Chapitre, which is packed with restaurants, to tantalise your taste buds with a delicious galette bretonne. If you come at the weekend, visit Place des Lices, where the colourful, and tasty, market has been held since 1622.
Continue walking to the superb Place de l’hôtel de ville, surrounded by bars and shops, before stopping in front of the Palace of the Parlement of Brittany. An example of the grand royal and Parisian decor of the 17th century, this classical building, which has had a troubled history and is now home to the appeal court of Rennes, was the seat of the Parliament of Brittany until the Revolution.
Art lovers will want to stop off on the way at the Museum of Fine Arts, where paintings by Paolo Veronese and Picasso, as well as several treasures by the Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte are on display.
If biodiversity and astronomy are more your thing, then the Espace des Sciences is for you. In this place, which will amaze young and old alike, you can explore science through exhibitions, games and exciting videos! The legendary wizard Merlin, who performed his greatest exploits in the Breton forest of Brocéliande, also has a laboratory there, where you can try out a few experiments...
After strolling around the cobbled streets of the city centre, why not head for the elegant Thabor Park? Combining the lines of French-style formal gardens with the abundant nature of English landscaped gardens, this park is also home to the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St Melaine. Today, the inhabitants of Rennes flock here in search of relaxation, to listen to music or to lounge in the rose garden, which boasts 2,000 varieties of roses.
There's always something happening in Rennes, but even more so when the very rock'n'roll Rencontres Trans Musicales Festival is on or the Les Tombées de la Nuit Festival, which celebrates street arts every July.
To get here, you can take the high-speed train from Paris, which is only two hours away. By road, the toll-free road network makes it easy to reach major towns in western France.