Rennes is not often mentioned on tourist guides but this medium size town is well worth a visit. It has it bit more than 200,000 inhabitants, of which about 60,000 are students. This gives the town a vibrant night life. Some streets, such as the Rue Saint Michel, have only one type of shop on both sides: Bars! (The locals actually call "Rue Saint Michel" "la rue de la soif", which means the "Street of Thirst"). A stroll down Rue Saint Michel on a Friday or Saturday evening is a very interesting experience indeed. However, if you're really in the mood to "faire la fÃªte", celebrate or just have fun in other words, the most exciting night on "Rue de la Soif" would be the "Jeudi Soir", Thursday nights, during the school year. Jeudi Soir is the night when bars are most often packed to the brim with students. The sights on Thursday nights out on the town are very memorable and interesting.
Rennes is particularly nice in early July, during the "Festival des TombÃ©es de la Nuit". Its streets are then full of people enjoying the free street entertainment and eating or drinking at the terraces of the restaurants and cafÃ©s.
Rennes used to be virtually empty after the 15th of July, as most of its inhabitants were migrating to the coast until the 15th August. In recent years, this trend seems to have stopped and Rennes's terraces and cafes are now bustling throughout the year.
- Rennes airport has budget flights to and from Southampton and Belfast thanks to Flybe, or Dublin with Aerlingus which has good offers. The airport is less than 5km away from the city center, and bus No 57 links it with the city. One hour away, Dinard's airport offers other cheap options, with for example a connection to London with Ryanair.
- The easiest way to get to Rennes from Paris is through Gare Montparnasse. There are TGVs almost every 30 minutes and the ride is 2hrs and 3 min. Tickets are available on the SNCF website, and between 25 and 65 Euros for one way. If you're under 26 years old, and planning to travel in France by train, get the "carte 12-25" (49 â‚¬) which will offers you 50% off most of the time.
- The cheapest way will be covoiturage or car-sharing. A lot of websites offer information about people wishing to share their car and budget. 123envoiture.com or Allostop will help you out. Since 1968, traveling by car on motorways within Brittany is free thanks to a deal made between RenÃ© Pleven and Georges Pompidou.
- Rennes has also an international and local bus station, right next to the rail station. This is where you can get information about Illenoo (see below) and where buses such as Eurolines arrive in the city.
By bus and metro
Rennes has a very good public transport system, called Star. If you're planning to buy a pass (weekly or longer), you'll need to go to one of the two agencies Place de la Republique and Place de la Mairie) to get a "Korrigo" card. Don't forget a picture which they will scan. It is a free electronic card on which your pass will be saved. Once you have it, just reload it anywhere tickets are sold. Daily tickets can be bought for â‚¬3 a day, and are valid on both the bus and metro. Star claims that its network has the cheapest prices in France, with a single ticket (valid for an hour after validation for unlimited connections) costing â‚¬1.10.
Rennes offers more than 50 different bus routes and a metro, with 1 bus every 5 minutes for the metro and main bus lines at the peak hours. The hub of the network is at Republique, which feeds most of the 50 different routes. This bus and metro network connects all parts of Rennes, and so you're never far from a bus stop. All the bus stops conveniently have a map (une carte) of Rennes with all the lines on, and a timetable for the routes it provides, so there isn't much chance of getting lost.
The metro, called the VAL, has only one line with 15 stops and measures 8.57km. It runs from one edge to the other in 16 minutes. It connects the main train station to the centre-ville, Villejean university, the hospital, the town hall and more. It runs from 0525 to 0030, as do the five main bus lines.
Rennes offers very good options for cyclists. With plenty of cycle lanes, the town has plenty of cyclists. For residents of the town, bikes can be borrowed free of charge from the mayor's office. These bikes aren't particularly good, but they work and have gears, so its worth checking them out. If you're after a pleasant cycling trip, check out the canal route. This is flat, and therefore not very hazardous.
Traffic in city center is heavy. Large areas are reserved for pedestrians and buses. Parking in the center is not free. You'll have to find an horodateur, never far away. Price will depend on the zone where you parked. 0,75 â‚¬/h and 2h40 maximum for green zone and 1,33 â‚¬/h with 1h33 maximum for red ones. Since 2002, the best way to discover Rennes is by metro and its parcs-relais. These are car-parks located in metro stations on the outskirts such as Kennedy, Villejean in the north and Henri Freville, Triangle and La Poterie in the south. They're free if you use the metro.
By bus (illenoo)
Illenoo is a public service of the Conseil gÃ©nÃ©ral d'Ille & Vilaine (DÃ©partement level). It allows people to travel within the dÃ©partement (and a little bit outside) on 18 lines for a good price. For example, Rennes – St Malo â‚¬4.80 return for students under 26.
Activities and Sightseeing
- One highlight of Rennes, if you're after natural beauty and tranquility, is the Thabor. This park has a stunning collection of plantlife, including a large bed of hundreds of species of roses, tropical, African and European trees, other beautiful and rare plants, and offers the traveller a chance to see some budgies. There are cages with a dozen of different sorts of small colourful birds. To get to Parc Thabor from Republique station, take bus number 3 (direction St. Laurent) and get off at the Thabor stop. Or you can simply walk northestwards, it's 10 minutes away.
- Le Parlement
- Maison Ã colombages
- Mont Saint-Michel is a granite island located north-eastward of Rennes in the region of Basse-Normandie. It's the 3rd most visited monument in France, which will be under restoration until 2012. The main part of the island is the abbey of Mt St Michel.
If you're going there from Rennes, the easiest and more expensive way is to use les courriers bretons bus company. They'll charge you â‚¬10.30 each way. But a cheaper option is to use the Illenoo public transport (see Get In), which costs â‚¬3 each way, but stops in Pontorson (9 km south of Mt St Michel). From there, you can even hitch hike or use the bus link, which costs round â‚¬1.
Anyhow, you get a 20% rebate in both cases if you're under 26 years old.
- Etangs d'ApignÃ©
- Cobac Parc
- Canal d'Ille & Rance
- Foret de Rennes
- Les Champs Libres is a brand new building in which you'll find le musee de Bretagne, l'espace des Sciences and the bibliotheque municipale. It's a wonderful place where you can learn a lot about Rennes, about Brittany, and about sciences and history. There are a lot of exhibitions (temporary and permanent), forums, and debates. There's also an outside cafe overhanging Place Charles de Gaulle where you can meet people and talk about whatever you feel like. If you feel like reading newspapers, head to the room in front of you when you enter that building, choose your favourite one and sit with other peers. But if you want to have a nice look at the city centre, head to last floor of the public library and enjoy. Don't forget to be quiet or they'll remind you! If you don't feel like going to the movies, you can climb up to the planetarium (around 7â‚¬ for exposition and planetarium) and enjoy 1h30 of live "show" about space, stars, legends,… Check the schedule on their website for your favourite theme.
Fest-noz is not a french word, it is Breton. Fest means party and Noz; night. A translation could be Festival of the night. It is a traditional ball where all generations meet and listen traditional music, drink beer or chouchen, and dance on breton music. Most of them happen on Saturdays, but still, you can find some on Thursdays or fridays. You can find them by looking at the posters in the streets, in the universities,… but fest-noz.net is a website that gather most of fest-noz in all Bretagne. Price's usually between 5 and 8â‚¬, but bigger events as Yaouank (a huge fest-noz in Rennes, usually in October or November) are little bit more expensive. This is definitely something to do!
Festivals in Rennes
Travelling and Travelling Junior. It's Rennes MÃ©tropole movie festival. Traveling explores a culture focusing on a city every year. 2008 edition will focus on Buenos Aires and will take place from february 9th to the 19th.
Mythos. It's the festival of the arts of word. Tales, stories, french song,.. Next edition (2008) will take place from April 6th to the 12th.
Rock'n Solex. The oldest student festival of France. In 2007, it celebrated it's 40th birthday. This festival is a mix of music and solexs' race.
Les TombÃ©es de la Nuit. It's an art festival where many spectacles take places in public places. Alternative, classic or traditional music, animations, expositions is the concept of that festival. It always take place the first week of July.
Quartiers d'Ã©tÃ©. An outdoor festival organized by volunteer youngsters. Concerts, cinema, animations, games,… During the 3rd week of July.
Yaouank. 3rd weekend of November
Every Saturday morning, from 6am to 1:30PM, there is a large food market in the centre of town, where you can buy low price fruit and veg, a vast array of fish, crÃªpes, galettes, fresh meat and other French delicacies such as wine, snails and cheeses. Le marchÃ© des Lices is always bustling with people trying to buy low-price groceries and meat. The market is based in the Place des Lices, an 8 minutes walk from the main bus station, Republique.
Other markets take place every day in different neighborhoods:
Le Blosne – Place de Zagreb – 7am / 1pm
Cleunay – Rue Jules Lallemand – 7am / 12.30pm
Maurepas– Place d'Erlangen – 7am / 12.30pm
Jeanne d'Arc – Bd Alexis Carrel – 7am / 12.45pm
Bour L'Eveque – Square Simone Morand – 7am / 12.30pm
BrÃ©quigny – Place Albert Bayet – 7am / 12.30pm
Le Blosne – Place de Zagreb – 7am / 1pm
Les Lices – Place des Lices – 7am / 1.30pm
- There is a large shopping mall at Place du Colombier about 300m north west of the train station. The Metro stops there (Charles de Gaulle). C & A and Habitat are two of the stores that are in the mall.
- La Visitation is a new shopping mall located in the center close to Place Sainte Anne. You'll find two main stores; H&M and Saturn and some others. This little shopping mall links the Place Ste Anne to Place Hoche where is the law university.
- If you're looking for high budget shopping mall, les Galleries Lafayette located in the center on the quais (docks), almost Place de la Republique, are made for you. You'll find food, clothes, games, make-up, furniture, perfume, …
- On the edge of the city you'll find other shopping malls where most of people buy food in big supermarkets. If this is what you're looking for, ask for centre Alma, centre commercial de Cleunay, Grand quartier, or centre commercial de Cesson-Sevigne.
- Rue d'OrlÃ©ans and Rue le Bastard are two streets linking Place de la Republique to Place Ste Anne through Place de la Mairie. There are stores everywhere for everything!
- If you're looking for traveling books or maps, La librairie du voyage will be happy to help you. It's one of the few places you can find relevant information and qualified people.
- Rue St Georges has innumerable creperies. This street has a certain olde world charm.
- Rue de St Malo is the equivalent of Rue St Michel but for restaurants. You'll find some nice "around the world" restaurants. Try the Kebabs there. They are a Turkish food that, at only five Euro, are a cheap filling lunch if you happen to find one.
- CrÃªperie Sainte-Anne, 5 place Sainte Anne – 35000 Rennes (France) (MÃ©tro Sainte Anne), 02 99 79 22 72. A very nice crÃªperie at Place Sainte Anne.
- CrÃªperie de la Place, 6, Place Sainte Anne 35000 Rennes (MÃ©tro Sainte Anne), 02 99 79 01 43. One of the best crÃªperie in Rennes. Very well located, just next "CrÃªperie Sainte-Anne", you can eat delicious galettes and crÃªpes at a cheap price.
- Keep in mind that you won't be able to stay in bars after 1am. It's the law, they have to close. So if you're inside one of them, and that you're really thirsty, think about ordering your drinks around 00.30 because it happens that they don't sell anymore arond that time. It happens that they ring a bell to tell you that it's time to buy your last drinks, if you want to.
- Funky Munky, 37, rue St. Melaine, a cool no-smoking vodka/cocktail bar located near an entrance for the Thabor park. Drinks are relatively cheap — the more you buy, the cheaper it gets. The bar serves 30 flavors of vodka, numerous cocktails (including a Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmos, Sex on the Beach, and a delicious drink called a Purple Turtle), and a few beers on tap or in bottles. The bar hosts a poetry slam every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, and a quiz night every Monday from about 8pm on. The bartender (and owner!) speaks both French AND English, so don't worry about having to speak perfect French.
- O'Connell's Irish Pub VERY popular Irish pub located at 6-7, Place du Parlement. Ask anyone and I'm sure someone will point you in the right direction. St. Patrick's Day at this place is insane – the pub becomes packed to capacity. Same rules apply for any big sporting events. Monday nights from 7pm-11pm and Thursday nights from 7pm-close are happy hour. A pint of beer/stout/ale is 4 Euros (and in some cases, less) during happy hour — just check the little posters up on the walls at the bar (or ask the bartenders, they're all very friendly and most, if not all, of them are anglophones). Not only do the anglophones love this place, but the French do too.
- Westport Inn Another Irish pub located at 36, rue de Dinan. It's smaller, but it's got an authentic feel to it, and the drinks are slightly cheaper than at O'Connell's. It's just down the street from Place des Lices. But, according to the sign on the window, you're not allowed to bring in nuclear weapons, so if you're packing, go elsewhere 🙂
- Barantic Let's just say that if you're a beer lover, that should be the place where to go. It has 18 draught beers with local and Belgian beers. You can also discover some saucisson (smoked sausage). The best moment is during the afternoon, under the sun, in the middle of crowded terrasses, with your favorite beer and your saucisson. Enjoy the moment.
- Jardin moderne
- Couleur CafÃ©
- Haricot Rouge
- L'artiste assoife
- Le Bateau Ivre
- Mondo Bizarro is the punkrock place to be 🙂
- La Contrescarpe
- La Place
- Le Cactus
- Le Pym's
- Le Platinium
- Le Stanle
- See the Liting of the Hotels in Rennes
- The campsite at Rennes is rather large. To get there, take the number 3 bus, and get off at the Piscine/Gayeulles stop. The neighbouring park has much to offer, including an ice rink, a pool and sports facilities.
- Many hotels can be found Place de la gare, and on the avenue Jean Janvier going northward from the north exit of the train station.
- It is fairly easy to travel in France, therefore it would be clever to take advantage of the beautiful cities and coastal scenery in Bretagne (FougÃ¨res, Dinan, Vannes, Carnac, Lorient, Guidel, FinistÃ¨re, VitrÃ©,…).
- Saint-Malo, a wonderful coastal town on the English Channel, is only 45 minutes by the TGV and usually costs less than â‚¬10. Buses are also available for cheaper but take a bit longer.