Rennes: The Perfect City for a Weekend Getaway from Paris

A castle with water in front of a building

Rennes is the capital of the Bretagne region (known in English as Brittany) and the perfect weekend getaway from Paris. Accessible in 1.5 hours on the TGV line from Gare Montparnasse, this small city has a warm, cozy feeling all around: the cuisine, architecture, and public spaces embrace all weather from cloudy winters to blossoming spring and summer. Here are the best things to see, do, eat, and drink when you stay in this beautiful city.

What to See:

Parc Thabor

A large park located near the Rennes town center, Parc Thabor is home to flower gardens, waterfalls, and aviaries with non-native species of birds. Though surrounded by city, the park is a calm escape from urban life. During your walk through, stop by Notre-Dame-En-Saint-Melaine, a historic church located on the park’s western edge. Place Saint-Mélaine, 35000

Place de la Mairie

Place de la Mairie is a Neo-Classical square located in the heart of Rennes. Benches are located around the square, making it a nice place to lounge and people watch on a sunny day. 1 Place de la Mairie, 35000

Centre Historique de Rennes

Rennes has history dating to 2 B.C., with periods involving indigenous people, the Romans, and the Bretons. Fortunately, many of the buildings erected during the medieval period are still standing the Centre Historique de Rennes. These vibrantly colored structures are all located on one main square, and many are still inhabited today. Rue Pont Aux Foulons – Rue Leperdit, 35000

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre

The gothic church Cathédrale Saint-Pierre sits in the center of Rennes. It was built in the 18th-19th centuries and, though damaged during World War II, the structure still stands today. Enter the cathedral to see the stained glass windows and stone carvings from original portion of the church. 2 Rue Saint Saveur, 35000

Palais Saint-George

Formerly an abbey built in 1670, Palais Saint George currently houses the fire and rescue team of Rennes. It’s a great place to people watch in the gardens, or read a book on one of the many benches on the front lawn. Rue du Sergent Guihard, 35000

What to Do:

Musée de Bretagne

Learn about the history of Bretagne before you tackle the rest of Rennes at the Musée de Bretagne. Located right next to the train station, this museum will cost you only 6€ to enter. This exhibit showcases the evolution of Brittany and the Breton people, from prehistoric times to today. 10 Cours des Alliés, 35000

Marché des Lices

One of France’s largest open-air flea and farmers markets, Marché des Lices offers products from flowers and plants to locally grown fruits and vegetables, Breton cheeses, and galette saucisse (a sausage wrapped in a savory crêpe). 3 Place du Bas des Lices, 35000

Musée des Beaux-Arts

The Musée des Beaux-Arts, a municipal museum of fine and ancient arts, features works by masters such as Picasso, Rembrant, Da Vinci, and Botticelli. The museum has been standing since 1794, and contains historical art from many historical periods. Tickets are 9€, or 4€ for students and large groups. 20 Quai Emile Zola, 35000

Éspaces des Sciences

In the same museum complex as the Musée de Bretagne sits the Éspaces des Sciences, a museum displaying important scientific discoveries. Equipped with a planetarium and a “Merlin laboratory” which houses hands-on exhibits, this museum is perfect for families with kids. 10 Cours des Alliés, 35000

What (and Where) to Eat:

Crêpes at Crêperie Sainte-Anne

Crêperie Sainte-Anne, a small restaurant standing directly on the historic center, offers delicious Breton galettes and crêpes made right in front of you on a giant griddle. This place won’t break your bank; for around 13€, you can get a savory galette complète, a sweet crêpe, and a mug of cider. Look out for the unparalleled caramel au beurre salé (salted caramel) sweet crêpe. 5 Place Sainte-Anne, 35000

Baguette at Augustin

Hailed as the best baguette in Rennes, Augustin bakes these crusty creations at two locations in the city, so you’re bound to be near at least one of them during your visit. Apart from baguettes, the boulangerie offers other baked goods, like pain noix (bread made with nuts) and macaroons. 11 Rue Monnaie 35000

Traditional Breton Fare at La Chope

A traditional French restaurant, La Chope‘s warm ambiance and rich food make it perfect for a date night or a nice dinner with friends. The menu includes Breton specialties such as house-made foie gras and multiple seafood dishes. 3 rue de la Chalotais, 35000 

Pâtisserie le Daniel

Inside the Pâtisserie le Daniel lives a small, magical pastry called a kouign amman (pronounced “queen-a-mhan”), which is a bit like the lovechild of a croissant and a palmier. Encrusted in crunchy sugar with a buttery, layered inside, this pastry is native to Bretagne, which makes Rennes the best place to get one. Enjoy one with a coffee or buy a pack of 6 to save for later. 13 Rue de la Monnaie, 35000

Sweet Drinks at Le Haricot Rouge

Le Haricot Rouge offers sweet treats like cookies and milkshakes, but the real star of the show is their hot chocolate (chocolat chaud in French). Favorites include the salted caramel and M&M chocolates. Note: Each bowl of hot chocolate comes with a mini-brownie, in case the rich cocoa in the chocolat chaud isn’t enough to satisfy your chocolate craving. 10 Rue Baudrairie, 35000

Where to Go Out:

Cheap Beer on Rue de la Soif

Rue Saint-Michel, better known as Rue de la Soif (Drinker’s Alley), is lined with over 13 bars that make for a fun night out with a few friends. Walk into a pub and grab a few pints of beer, then move next door to a dance bar and bop to some 80’s tunes. Rue Saint Michel, 35000

Drinks with a Friend at La Part des Anges

Specializing in wines by the glass and snacks, this cozy bar is great for a late night drink, or a glass of wine before dinner. With cool music and a warm atmosphere, it’s a wonderful bar to spend a chilly fall evening inside. 2 Rue Sainte-Melanie, 35000

High-end Wines at BiBoViNo

If there’s anything we love more than a light purple matching color scheme, it’s really good wines, and BiBoViNo is just the place for that. The store offers a sit-down wine service, just next to a room lined with barrels upon barrels of wine that appear to go on forever. 19 rue Vasselot, 35000

Cocktails at La Rennes du Bal

If you’re in the mood to burn off a few calories from the 43 kouign amanns you’ve eaten by now, head to La Rennes du Bal for a few cocktails and lots of dancing. They have an outdoor dance floor, and rotating DJs who play everything from oldies to house music. The bar is open until 1am on weekends, so it’s perfect for a final stop before heading back to the hotel. 49 Rue Ginguené, 35000

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