Rennes and record shops – a long history…
Without independent record shops, Rennes’ musical history would undoubtedly be different. Amongst the display units, people meet, share, chat, find out about upcoming concerts and reach for the LP sleeves that make their heads spin. During a visit to Rennes, a trip to a record shop is therefore absolutely vital.
Rennes’ reputation for music was built on record shops, some of which, now gone, have become legendary: for example, did you know that the founders of Trans Musicales met in a record shop, at Disc 2000 on rue de Clisson, where Hervé Bordier worked and he crossed paths with Jean-Louis Brossard and Béatrice Macé? And that a few years ago, in the place where the five-star Balthazar hotel now stands, was the Rennes Musique record shop, which had educated the ears of Rennes residents for years? During his time in Rennes, Étienne Daho also visited Disc 2000 regularly and legend has it that he was the first person in France to own the Velvet Underground album The Velvet Underground & Nico. This is the type of anecdote you’ll collect if you go on the next “Rennes en musique” guided tour, which will take place on 7 December during the week of the Trans Musicales festival.
Even though the record shops from this era have closed their doors, the city centre of Brittany’s capital still has a small village of die-hards, where independent record shops resist the digitisation of music. Here are some addresses to rummage through during a weekend or during a music festival, like Rencontres Trans Musicales, Bars en Trans, I’m From Rennes, Rock’n Solex and Big Love In Brittany, we love good discs, which we can prove with these 8 excellent addresses and a few strong recommendations as a bonus track.
Blind Spot – Les Angles Morts
For fans of vinyls and musical gems
The record shop where you could spend hours rummaging through shelves and stumbling across gems that are as improbable as Iranian psychedelic music or classics from all genres, whether new or second-hand, but always on vinyl. With turntables for listening before buying and constant promotions with shelves of LPs at unbeatable prices from €3. There are a couple of things that make Blind Spot – Les Angles Morts stand out: the small corner of independent books and comics about music, the in-depth recommendations from the team and wall displays that change every two months. It’s here that you have the most chance of seeing Jean-Louis Brossard, the organiser of Trans Musicales, and others from local music scene who also come here.
- Blind Spot, 36 rue Poullain Duparc. Phone: +33 (0)2 99 78 51 90, open from Monday, from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For those looking for first pressings
Don’t pass by this little front window without stopping in. At Groove Rennes, as the name suggests, we love soul, funk, disco and jazz, but this record shop also stocks rock and electro vinyls. Here, you find only first pressings from the United States, at reasonable prices. Two turntables are available for you to listen to the records and get recommendations in a relaxed and cool atmosphere. It’s a small but long boutique that is worth swinging by for the huge range of second-hand records.
- Groove Rennes, 2 rue Motte-Fablet. Phone: +33 (0)6 62 14 78 09. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A must-visit address for rock and garage fanatics
This record shop is well known among regulars and Rennes’ lovers of rock, grunge, surf music and garage, though it also caters to fans of blues, punk rock and soul. Electro and rap enthusiasts should stop by too (even just to admire the very beautiful courtyard with the rear façades of half-timbered house, where the boutique has been for more than 20 years).
With music in his blood (and in his bones!), Seb, the manager and founder of the Beast Records label, provides a not-so-secret location where connoisseurs can get their regular dose of good vibrations, whether new or second-hand. T-shirts and baseball caps complete the rock’n roll collection. One (alternative) way to stay up-to-date with what’s new and arriving at the shop is to just tune into Canal B, where Seb has a slot on the Blueshit programme every Saturday morning.
- Rockin’ Bones, 7 rue de la Motte-Fablet (in the courtyard just opposite Groove Rennes). Phone: +33 (0)2 99 79 36 49. Open from Monday to Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Les enfants de Bohème
For those who love classical, jazz and world music
Les enfants de Bohème set up their storage units on rue Saint-Malo in summer 2019. A “new” address that cultivates a culture of sharing. Come here to listen to and choose from a wide range of classical, jazz, world music and song compilation CDs, as well as originals that come out on vinyl. A small corner of books and CDs for children rounds off the musical offer and you can also find some Breton souvenirs to take home in your cases. Located just a stone’s throw away from the Tourism Office, the enthusiasts who run the boutique were formerly with Harmonia Mundi and regularly organise showcases with musicians.
- Les enfants de Bohème, 12 rue Saint-Malo. Phone: +33 (0)2 99 42 59 13, open from Monday, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Les Troubadours du chaos
Second-hand clothes, CDs, vinyls, cassettes and Japanese imports – you can find it all here
Les Troubadours du chaos has long been a haunt for underground, goth and punk culture in Rennes. Having opened on rue Saint-Malo in 2006, the boutique has now expanded its range on offer. It’s always a good address if you’re looking mainly for second-hand CDs of 1980s indie-rock or punk music. However, the other shelves are also regularly stocked. There’s no lack of choice among the CDs and vinyls and you can unearth some rarities among the frequent arrivals, especially Japanese imports, in maxi-singles or LPs, and French and international classical at reasonable prices. The second-hand clothes section is not to be outdone, as you can refresh your wardrobe without breaking the bank, while also adding a few badges to your collection. At Les Troubadours, you can even find cassettes and musical items, DVDs and sets. Don’t hesitate to pop in, the troubadours will make you feel at home.
- Les Troubadours du Chaos, 48 rue de Saint-Malo. Phone: +33 (0)2 99 63 27 15, open from Wednesday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A general independent record shop with 13,000 items
It’s (not) only rock’n roll. This generalist record shop has an overwhelming amount of choice: mostly new, including CDs and regular new stock of vinyls, with a total of almost 13,000 items. As a place for discoveries and familiarity, It’s Only is an excellent alternative to major names. This is all the more because the two partners know the shelves well, having spent decades in the world of music (notably at the Virgin Megastores in Rennes and on the Champs Elysées). It’s Only, which opened in 2014 on the road that leads to the Parlement of Brittany, also stocks turntables to buy and specific advice to kit you out with equipment.
- It’s Only, 3 rue Jean Jaurès. Phone: +33 (0)2 99 77 98 23, open all day Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Throughout the month of December only, It’s Only is open all day Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tête de Chou
A one-of-a-kind location that is a record shop, café and canteen all at once
Tête de Chou, which is a reference to a Serge Gainsbourg album, is a new and unique location in Rennes: both café, canteen and record shop. Located not far from Thabor park, halfway between Palais Saint-Georges and Oberthür park, Tête de Chou has dedicated part of its space to vinyls. These are all second-hand, except for some new releases by local groups. Particularly notable is a small section of Breton and Celtic music and stock that is regularly refreshed, since the owners, Phil and Guillaume, only put out a small part of their collection on the shelves. As for the canteen, you can try craft beers and organic wines to accompany a no-frills dinner that includes a dish of the day and a savoury tart of the day. On Thursday and Friday evenings, after-work events, DJ sets and music quizzes add a fun and friendly ambience to the place, which has a pop-inspired decor filled with vintage pieces.
- Tête de Chou, 15 rue Kléber +33 (0)9 53 88 72 02. Open Monday and Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
A bargain location with more and more vinyls
O’CD is not just an independent record shop as it is part of a small chain of about 15 shops that specialise in buying and selling CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and video games. However, this Rennes boutique with its yellow façade, next to the Valton building, is an excellent recommendation, particularly for students who take advantage of its very reasonable prices. Having opened in 2003 on rue d’Antrain, vinyls have been taking up more and more space over the years, in a wide range of international, soul, funk, metal, hip hop and jazz – you can find anything, whether new or second-hand. The second-hand stock of CDs is made up of a large choice that includes music from films and unusual bands.
- O’CD, 7 rue d’Antrain. Phone: +33 (0)2 99 38 57 93, open all day Monday to Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Other recommendations for fans of music
Here are a few suggestions to help extend your shopping trip, in order to keep digging the grooves.
- La Rennes du Bal – a record bar. This is a unique spot opposite Sainte-Thérèse church. The cool ambience and the carefully chosen decor extend over two floors, while patrons and record collectors can make use of the records and turntables available. Snacks and a café atmosphere in the vintage district.
49 rue Guinguené,
Phone +33 (0)2 99 65 18 97.
Open every day from 6 p.m., until 9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and until 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
- During the Trans Musicales festival: Labels aux Trans at the Liberté stage in the Village du Festival (Esplanade Général de Gaulle), les Trans and POCH Records invite Rennes labels to present their productions and their work.
- Fnac shop. Fnac is still a good option to find all the unmissable new releases on CD and vinyl. Centre commercial Colombia, Place du Colombier. Open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Le Disquaire Day (Record Shop Day). Every year, on one Saturday in April, the CALIF (French Association for Independent Labels and Record Shops) organises a day for record shops in France. For the occasion, independent record shops put out limited editions, especially on vinyl. It’s the perfect day to find rarities and new republications.