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Brittany's capital is a charming place, and its cultural agenda is always full to the brim. Regardless of the season, surprises and lots of things to discover await you there. Here are 7 excellent reasons to spend a few days or a weekend there.
Brittany's capital is getting closer and closer to Paris. By 2017, Rennes will only be 90 minutes away from Montparnasse station thanks to the high-speed TGV train. This will make it even easier for you to make your way to Brittany. The airport of Rennes-Saint-Jacques is only an hour away from Paris CDG, and there are direct daily flights from major French and European cities, only 1h30 away from Rennes. It is also easy to drive to Rennes: 3h30 on the motorway from Paris, only 1h away from Nantes and 4h30 from Bordeaux.
Rennes was the first city in the world to implement a computerised free-access bicycle rental system in 1988, well before Paris' Vélib'. Bicycles are still the most popular form of transport. Along the Vilaine river, in the cobbled streets, in the heart of the parks and gardens, along the 42 km of cycle paths...bikes feel right at home. It is also very easy to walk around the city. On the city centre maps, the circles will indicate the cultural sites that can be accessed in 5, 10 or 15 minutes on foot. Taking the time to stroll around town is the best way to discover its many charms. These eco-friendly means of transport complement the bus and metro line, that enable you to go straight from the station to the historical centre in less than 5 minutes. Lastly, if you come to Rennes by car, make sure you follow the car park signs.
The Emerald Coast is the closest beach area for Rennes. Those who live in Rennes often drive up spontaneously on a Saturday or Sunday, as soon as the sun starts to shine. The express way - a free motorway, one of the privileges of living in Brittany - takes you to Saint-Malo's ramparts or to the Sillon beach in less than an hour. For water sports or a delicious meal in Cancale, the Channel is not very far away. The Mont-Saint-Michel Bay and its beautiful abbey are also nearby.
... AND CLOSE TO NATURE
Brittany's capital is at one with nature. In just a few minutes, you switch from an urban scene to rural Brittany. Instant greenery.
You never get bored in Rennes. There is always a festival, a concert or an exhibition to go to. A number of unmissable cultural events are organised throughout the year, such as the Transmusicales, the Mythos Festival, the Tombées de la Nuit festival, Rock'n Solex, the Travelling Festival, Mettre en Scène, the Maintenant Festival and the contemporary art biennial festival. Music, arts, cinema, theatre, dance, hip-hop and culture come to the streets from January to December. There are even events on Sundays, with shows and free entrance to the museums every first Sunday of the month.
Rennes' culture can be appreciated with all five of your senses: gastronomy, music, arts, traditions, parks and gardens. What if you started off with a trip to Rennes to begin your immersion into the Breton culture? Bretons are also extremely welcoming...Cheap hotels or luxurious establishments, guest houses or B&Bs, it's up to you where you stay.
In town, you can also appreciate the region's iconic monuments, such as the famous Parliament of Brittany, the Portes Mordelaises or the beautiful Place de la Mairie with its rounded Opera House.
Nights out in Rennes are legendary. You can count on the 63,000 students to create a great atmosphere, and the outdoor terraces are always out, be it winter or summer. You would not believe how many bars there are: more than 140 and counting. You have to admit than the folk in Rennes know how to drink, but a warm and friendly atmosphere is really what they seek when they go out in town. As a great place to socialise, Rennes' pubs and bars have also become a meeting point for bistrot lovers.
Rennes is the entry gate into the rest of Brittany. From the capital, you can then fan out to other destinations for day trips. In less than an hour, you can drive up to the Mont-Saint-Michel. The legendary Brocéliande Forest is even nearer, as is the megalithic site of La Roche aux Fées. There are many cities and castles full of character just next to Rennes: Bécherel, the city of books, Vitré and its medieval town, the Fortress of Fougères, or the romantic town of Combourg. Not forgetting the towers of the medieval fortress of Châteaugiron, located just at Rennes' doorstep, less than 20 minutes away from the city centre. Around Rennes, a number of well-preserved natural areas are also worth a visit: the Vilaine valley snaking South towards the Boël mill, and the old tow path that leads directly North to the sea.