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Civil architecture


Chapel of Saint-Yves, rue Saint-Yves

The headquarters of the Rennes Tourist Information Centre features three architectural creations under the same roof - a contemporary construction in the form of an ocean liner gangway, a 17th-century timber-framed house and the chapel itself, which was built in the 15th century to serve the former Hôtel-Dieu hospice. This building, now a fine example of the splendid Flamboyant Gothic architecture following extensive restoration work, hosts a permanent exhibition, "Rennes, City of Art and History" which tells the story of the Breton capital down the ages through the media of water, wood and stone.

There is also a virtual model presenting urban development from the Gallo-Roman period to the present day.
Exhibition catalogue available in various languages: French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Breton.

Opening times:
From 1st july to 31 august: 9am to 7pm.
From 1st september to 30 june : 10am to 6pm
Sundays and bank holidays: 11am - 1pm and 2pm - 6pm
Closed : 1st may, 25 december, 1st january

Chapel of Saint-Yves

Hôtel de ville, place de l'hôtel de ville

"A public building built for Immortality"...
Following the fire of 23 December 1720, which ravaged 33 streets and 900 timber-framed houses and buildings, the town centre was in desperate need of rebuilding and repair. After Isaac Robelin, the work was commissioned to Jacques Gabriel (1667-1742). On 23 May 1730, his plan to "build a public building for immortality" was accepted. A single building featured the Hôtel de Ville to the south, the presidial court to the north and the clock tower in the centre, all set in a new square.  

Hôtel de Ville

Opera, place de l'hôtel de ville

"I foresee a dance which alone would be the Breton round-dance…"
A century after the construction of the Hôtel de Ville, Charles Millardet echoed the concave 18th-century design by erecting a convex theatre. The building features F. Lanno's watchful muses atop its façade and a ceiling decorated with the round-dance of Breton girls, designed by Lemordant in 1913.

Opera - © D. Marion

Lices Pavilion, place des Lices

Opposite the timber-framed and stone townhouses stand two cast-iron pillar and polychrome brick pavilions, designed by the town's architect J.B. Martenot (1868-1871). The pavilions bear a striking resemblance to Baltard's covered marketplace, or Halles, in Paris. Nowadays the Saturday morning market, a local ritual much appreciated by local chefs and the population at large, is held in these buildings.

Halle Martenot

Economics Faculty and former Grand Seminarya, place Hoche

Designed in 1856 by H. Labrouste, the architect of Sainte-Geneviève library in Paris, this faculty building was erected on the site of the Carmelite convent. It is of Romanesque inspiration, yet resolutely modern, with its metal beamwork and baseless granite columns.

Ancien Grand Séminaire- cour intérieure (19e siècle)

Saint-Georges swimming baths beneath Neptune's watchful gaze, rue Gambetta

The Odoricos, a family of Italian mosaicists, were among the contributors to the swimming baths designed by the architect E. Leray and commissioned by Jean Janvier in 1925. The Art-Deco style building was erected on the site of the former 11th to 19th-century Benedictine abbey church. It features remarkable materials, such as slate, flamed sandstone and mosaics, decorations of lotus flowers and a pool depicting the sea.  

Saint-Georges swimming bathsl

Palais Saint-Georges, rue Gambetta

This building is all that remains of the Benedictine abbey, built in the 11th century by Duke Alain III outside the town walls, and protected by the mediaeval enclosure in the 15th century. The palace was built in the 17th century by the "Laval architects" Tugal Caris and Pierre Corbineau under the helm of Magdeleine de la Fayette.
In the centre, under the first-floor roof, was an arched pediment adorned with the abbey's coat of arms featuring a royal crown and allegories of Justice and Peace. Today it houses council offices. At nightfall the building is lit up, and its elegant high arcades with their two tufa storeys are stunning to behold.

palais Saint-Georges

Museum palace, quai Emile Zola

The River Vilaine divided Rennes into an upper and a lower town for many centuries, as the land south of the river was prone to flooding. The canalisation process, undertaken in the 19th century, provided a means of rehabilitating the south bank, notably with the building of the university palace (1849-1858), entrusted to the architect V. Boullé, and converted into a museum palace, which today houses the Fine Arts Museum.

Museum palace

Palais du commerce, place de la République

It was not until the mid 19th century that the course of the River Vilaine was regulated. The river was covered between the bridges of Nemours and Berlin and the event was celebrated in 1912 by the town mayor, Jean Janvier. The impressive palace was built between 1885 and 1929 by J.B. Martenot, followed by E. Leray, and was commissioned by the mayor, Edgard Le Bastard, who wished to raise the status of the town's south bank and house the commodity exchange and the post and telegraph office there.

Palais du Commerce