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Enjoying a drink or tucking into lunch in peace and quiet is easy in Rennes, thanks to the city's host of secret bar and restaurant terraces. Secret or little-known spots that deserve to be brought into the spotlight! Let us be your guide…
A Cosy courtyard in the heart of the old town
Walking down one of the historic centre's most enchanting streets, the Rue Saint-Sauveur, you'd never guess that the Peacock encloses a courtyard. But this is one bar that's certainly worth a detour. This is a quiet little cocktail's bar away from the more bustling terraces, where you can order a platter of light bites and enjoy some fantastic cocktails and mojitos. In the evenings, the lighting succeeds in creating a lovely cosy atmosphere.
Peacock, 2 RUE SAINT-SAUVEUR, OPEN 5PM TO 1AM.
A BIG GARDEN WITH A COMMUNITY FEEL
Tucked away in the Sainte-Thérèse district near the mosaic-embellished Odorico church, the Panama is a quirky bar with a lovely garden. Christophe the landlord bought this local bar and has his own animal companion: a magpie called 3.14. Inside, the décor was given a makeover by locals and neighbours using recycled furniture and school chairs. Locals come here for the garden, and for the community feel. Barbecues are free to use, and clients are welcome to bring their own sausages and get sizzling. "You bring the food, I'll take care of the drinks" as Christophe puts it. He wanted to make sure the bar was accessible to everyone. As an aside, the Panama was the first bar in Rennes to offer free Wi-Fi in 2005. The best place to come to set the world to rights in small groups.
LE PANAMA, 28 RUE BIGOT DE PRÉAMENEU.
A ZEN-LIKE GARDEN AND TERRACE FOR A JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF SPICES
If you find yourself wandering along the Promenade des Bonnets Rouges on the banks of the Vilaine, there's no excuse for not stopping for lunch at the Coco Thym. Round the back of a little house, you'll find a gorgeous terrace and garden that whisk you away on an Asian culinary adventure. Mistress of the house Catherine returned from her travels in India and Sri Lanka with a passion for the spices she incorporates into her home-made, seasonal dishes, served up at very reasonable prices. An exotic detour with at least one vegetarian option and regular exhibitions and gigs. Just off the Voie Verte 2, the Coco Thym is an oriental stop-off for you to enjoy during a walk or bike ride.
LE COCO THYM, 4 RUE ALPHONSE GUÉRIN
A CHARMING LITTLE COVERED TERRACE
For a great night out with friends, sheltered from the drizzle while still soaking up the fresh air, Les Bricoles ticks all the right boxes, with fresh market cuisine to boot. We recommend booking if you're hoping for a terrace table, because this place is incredibly popular as soon as spring and summer arrive! A stone's throw away from the Place de la Bretagne and quays, Les Bricoles' terrace is a good choice for special meals out or for a pre-dinner drink thanks to their selection of home-made cocktails.
LES BRICOLES, 17 QUAI DE LA PRÉVALAYE
CRÊPES AND GALETTES ON THE TERRACE, ALL YEAR ROUND
The La Rozell crêperie is a Rennes institution that turned 30 in 2016. The menu features traditional crêpes and buckwheat galettes drenched in cider (Fouesnant cider, to be precise) and organic Breton beers. You can't miss La Rozell's bright red façade near the Place Sainte-Anne. Climb the stone stairs and step inside to marvel at the traditional timbered décor. The icing on the cake is the large courtyard terrace complete with over 60 tables, half of which are covered. Heated in winter, bursting with flowers come summer - we could while away a good few hours here!
CRÊPERIE LA ROZELL, 14 RUE DE PENHOËT. OPEN SUNDAYS
A COURTYARD IN A 17TH-CENTURY MANSION
The Molant mansion lies on the Place des Lices, and is home to one of Rennes' top eateries: the Le Carré restaurant. The courtyard here features a terrace to seat 85 and is an exclusive setting in which to enjoy a meal with views of the cathedral. A south-facing terrace with a majestic olive tree, Japanese maples, parasols and sun curtains to keep diners cool.
SUNGLASSES PROVIDED BY THE HOUSE
If the sunshine gets too bright, the House will provide you with sunglasses, and this is just the kind of personal little touch we love. All the better to fully appreciate the dishes served up: a menu put together by chef Stéphane Lefeuvre, drawn up based on seasonal produce with a lunchtime menu priced at €19.50 (starter + main or main + dessert) and a weekend Saturday market menu for €22.50. Le Carré enjoys a front-row seat at the renowned Place des Lices market, yet the terrace remains very cosy and intimate, particularly in the evenings, when the floodlights show off the mansion's architecture at its best.
The last feature of note worth mentioning about this gorgeous courtyard is that the terrace is eco-responsible and is fitted with astroturf made from recycled materials. There's no heating to allow for all of nature's splendour and changing seasons to shine through, but you'll be given warm blankets if the temperatures drop. If it's a romantic, moonlit dinner for two you're after, you've come to the right place...
RESTAURANT LE CARRÉ, 34 PLACE DES LICES
A VIBRANT GARDEN WITH GREAT SOUNDS
The Combi Bar brings together vintage décor, vibrant, poppy colours and a nod to the landlord's Voslkwagen Kombi parked just outside this edgy bar. When it comes to the sounds though, you can expect something altogether more contemporary, with DJs billed nearly every night (electro house, funk, etc.). The great line-up here is best enjoyed in the big garden as you sip at yummy house cocktails made from freshly-pressed fruit juice. Take a seat on one of the iconic orange or white tam-tam stools in the shape of diabolos, which may call to mind childhood memories for some. A friendly place that's just like a Combi: once you try it, you're hooked.
LE COMBI BAR, 55 RUE LEGRAVEREND
A UNIQUE PLACE ON THE BANKS OF THE VILAINE
"There's no escaping the Mie Mobile near the Cimetière de l’Est cemetery. We'll get you here...". This grungy establishment is a neighbour of cultural collective the Elaboratoire. A bar and restaurant with a unique atmosphere, where you can sit in the garden to eat, dance, party or catch a gig, or soak up the views of the Vilaine and sunset on the beautiful terrace. The Mie Mobile has just turned 15, and it'd be a crime not to drop in one evening. Close to the terraces of Le Vertugadin, it's an easy cycle from the town centre - just follow the Promenade des Bonnets Rouges trail.
LA MIE MOBILE, 34 BOULEVARD VILLEBOIS MAREUIL
A STYLISH AND SERENE TERRACE
On the way to the Etangs d’Apigné lakes, just around the corner from Roazhon Park and the Stade Rennais stadium training centre, the Piano Blanc restaurant is a firm favourite with the business lunch crowd. Diners congregate on the sweeping shaded terrace full of trees and parasols to enjoy traditional cuisine a stone's throw away from Rennes city centre, in a bucolic yet high-end atmosphere.
LE PIANO BLANC, 345 SAINTE FOIX, RENNES
A SECRET COURTYARD WHERE GUESTS EAT, DANCE AND MAKE MERRY
A remarkable monument to Rennes' past, the Saint-Michel prison (known as PSM to locals) has all the hallmarks of a Venetian courtyard, with its well, passageways, polygon turret and stone spiral staircase. This former prison built in the Pennsylvania style was operational from 1455 through to 1902, and has since been turned into a festive venue for revellers. You could easily saunter down the Rue Rallier du Baty without ever noticing it was there. Walk to the very end of the cul-de-sac to reach its doors, which open from 7pm, giving you access to a unique atmosphere and two terraces. There the Aventure bar, much loved by locals, all of whom will have slipped in here to spend a night singing their little hearts out to classic French chanson tunes. That's what the Aventure is all about, and you'll get your chance to revise the classics in a warm and welcoming atmosphere - don't you worry!
The other terrace with the same musical slant is the Big Bazar restaurant just opposite, where drinks are served until 1am. Other night-time gems (like the Delicatessen club), bars (La Banque) and restaurants (La Tourelle) are to be found behind the walls of the PSM. Warning: once you step inside, you'll be jailhouse-rocking until the early hours.
L’AVENTURE AND LE BIG BAZAR, 7 ALLÉE RALLIER DU BATY
A PRETTY INNER COURTYARD BACKED ON TO A CITY WALL
The Place des Lices is buzzing with great eateries, and the crêperie at the Place des Lices market is just one of them. A gorgeous shaded inner courtyard backing on to Rennes' ancient city wall, colourful tablecloths, strawberries and herbs combine to lend this courtyard enchanting appeal. The specialities here are the budget-friendly crêpes and galettes, and you can order a dish of the day for €7.60. The kitchen leads out onto the courtyard, and the terrace itself is peaceful and fragrant, with the smells of simmering local specialities rising on the breeze.
CRÊPERIE AU MARCHÉ DES LICES, 3 PLACE DU BAS DES LICES
A LOVELY PATIO IN THE PARLEMENT DISTRICT
You'd never guess at the existence of this patio when you step through the carriage entrance that leads to La Fabrique on Rue Saint-Georges. And yet what a gorgeous little terrace this is, complete with a covered section that can be rolled back when the weather brightens up, affording diners glimpses of the Saint-Germain church. A unique little restaurant just off the Place du Parlement de Bretagne, where you'll be spoilt for choice: traditional galettes served up alongside burgers, tapas, mussels or grilled meat dishes that change by the season. A one-of-a-kind place, brasserie décor with a modern twist.
LA FABRIQUE, 4 RUE SAINT-GEORGES
It goes without saying: these aren't the only terraces you'll stumble upon in Rennes. When it comes to enjoying a quiet drink or romantic meal for two, every Rennes local has their own favourite (see also our guide to the top 10 awesome terraces in Rennes). We can't list them all, but what we can do is recommend you pay a visit to the patio at the 5-star hotel and spa Le Balthazar (19 rue Maréchal Joffre), which is pure, indulgent bliss for lovers of the good life. For a grungier, more rough-and-ready feel, head to the terrace at the Bistrot de la Cité (7 rue Saint-Louis). A little off the beaten track is the garden at bar and restaurant Le Teddy’s(121 rue de Vern). Very close to the Place de Bretagne, you'll find a new crêperie complete with small inner courtyard terrace, the Blé noir en folie (11, boulevard de la Tour d’Auvergne). And at the entrance to the Portes Mordelaises, stop off in the discreet courtyard at the Repère des Jules (6 rue des Portes Mordelaises).
L'ATELIER DE L'ARTISTE: A WINE BAR WITH AN ENCLOSED TERRACE
The last terrace we'd like to recommend is in the Saint-Michel district, just around the corner from the famous Rue de la Soif, overlooking the Place Sainte-Anne at the L'Atelier de l'artiste wine bar (2 rue Saint-Louis). This is an understated little terrace with shabby chic décor and a warm, friendly atmosphere. The bar is built around a large shaded terrace (heated in the winter), boasts barrel tables and even an aquarium - students love this place.