Squares, parks, and gardens
Forget the granite and slate. How many cities de you know where the vegetation surface has increased tenfold in forty years? This is Rennes. Today, the city takes care of 868 hectares of green areas. This is 17% of the city. Who has better?
From perfectly landscaped parks to wild gardens, Rennes nature offers a wide variety of environments. In the city centre, the Oberthür and Tabor parks are the flagships of the landscape and botanical gardens, luxurious, calm and voluptuousness. On the edge of the city, there is Bréquigny – with its authentic forest – and Gayeulles – a hundred hectares where the choice of activities is incredibly – with large open spaces. Time to take out the kites and balls!
Each natural site has its own sports, culture and biodiversity. A gigantic sculpture? The alignment of the XXI century by Aurélie Nemours in the Beauregard park is truly great. Are there animals? Cows and sheep tend the Landry park lawns. A miniature bicycle trail with stop signs and traffic lights? Welcome to the Maurepas Park circuit. Children love it.
Everyone’s a gardener
Less known but well tended, many shared and municipal horticultural gardens grow in the city. Rennes has a thousand plots of family gardens, on eleven different sites. Got green fingers? The Taupinais eco-centre organises free gardening workshops all year round, open to all. It is a good place to practice organic vegetable gardening or to make successful cuttings.
Keep your eyes open while out walking. Observe the climbing jasmine, clematis and honeysuckle along walls. The City of Rennes allows all citizens to cultivate a part of the footpath in front of their homes. Many do.
Locks, running and the beach
In Rennes, nature is also water. There is of course the River Vilaine. However there is also the canal d’Ille et Rance, whose banks have been furnished for cycling and running. There is a remarkable string of locks in Rennes but also farther towards Saint-Grégoire and Betton, as well as the spectacular Eleven locks in Hédé, punctuating any outing. To the South, visit the Apigné ponds. It is not the sea, but there is a beach !
The Living eco-museum
How was country life before? Take a trip to the Rennes eco-museum. Decorated in wood and housed in an old farmhouse, just behind the ring road, it is like no other museum .
Original temporary exhibitions retrace five centuries of local history: the people, their traditions and their heritage. The museum speaks of pigs, seeds, groves and more; workshops teach children to shear wool, make wooden toys and collect honey.
Around the farm, a marked trail winds through the vegetable garden where rustic breeds of animals live and are kept by the museum. Coucou de Rennes chickens, Ouessant sheep, Breton Magpie cows; this is a great and quiet place to picnic as a family, close to the city.
Thabor, Prince of gardens
Large, flat and with flowers in any season, the Thabor Park is the pride of Rennes. It is one of the finest examples of the landscape art of the nineteenth century public parks. Established in 1867 on over 10 hectares, Thabor is home to many rare and exotic species as well as an exceptional rose garden with 980 varieties with some peculiar names.
The French garden, English garden and botanical garden are the natural backbone of the park – which also houses an aviary, a bandstand, a stylish orangery, converted into an exhibition gallery, and a large wooden playground area for children. From its manicured lawns emerges an atmosphere of order and majesty. For flirting or just lazing in the sun, look no further.
Saint-Martin, meadows in town
Here is a green hollow away from the urban bustle. Get there on foot or by bicycle, following the Ille-et-Rance canal. This is a guaranteed change of scenery. Wetlands plant patchwork, allotments and large squares of wild plants, criss-crossed by discrete streams; the Saint-Martin meadows are one of the green lungs of Rennes. The area covers 28 hectares and will gradually be transformed into urban park in the coming years.