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An unmissable stop on a stay or weekend in Rennes – terraces can be found everywhere along the pedestrian streets of the Breton capital. Every street, every district and every square has its own particular atmosphere and its terraces where everyone bumps into each other at any time of day or night. Take a look at our guide.
TERRACES WITH VIEWS OF THE OPERA HOUSE AND THE TOWN HALL
This is the most beautiful square in the city, where the opera house and the town hall face each other, and it offers an excellent panoramic view. Admire it from the terrace of the “Picca” (le Piccadilly), the city’s legendary bar and restaurant and a rather chic address that is very pleasant for having lunch under the shade of huge umbrellas. On the other side of the opera house’s façade, another terrace with a different view gives you the option to try local specialities, crepes and galettes and, above all, the famous galette saucisse, which we recommend enjoying at the Roazhon Opéra creperie.
On the corner of the square, towards the place de la République, the Angélus Bar terrace also offers an unobstructed view of both monuments.
RELAXED AMBIANCE ON RENNES’ ANSWER TO LAS RAMBLAS
The Mail François Mitterrand has recently become a paradise for terrace lovers. At Les Grands Gamins, La Piste and L’Echappée, at Oh My Biche, La Cabane, WarpZone and Le Coin Mousse, under marquees or in the sunshine, in winter and in summer, the people of Rennes come for drinks, lunch or brunch. The Mail’s unique atmosphere is a favourite with thirty-somethings and families, with some establishments providing palets boards and other games. On this tree-lined boulevard, which is the starting point for splendid bike trips along the canals and the Vilaine river, you could almost believe that you’re on Las Ramblas.
FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE FROM RUE DE LA SOIF TO RUE SAINT-MALO
Place Sainte-Anne is the beating heart of the historic centre. Once the sun is up, come here to savour a coffee at La Bonne Nouvelle, Ty Anna, L’Artiste Assoiffé or Le Petit Bar. Every resident of Rennes has his or her favourite terrace, depending on the time of day. Here, people like to take time to unwind on a terrace to talk, set the world to rights and meet people. Everyone runs into each other here – why not you too?
Around midday, it is the creperie terraces that fill up: Crêperie Paysanne and Crêperie Sainte-Anne are the most central, but you can find a wide range of cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets for all tastes right around the square. Don’t forget to take time admire the half-timbered houses that are characteristic of the number 9 bus line.
In the evening, the neighbouring streets are even livelier, especially on the famous rue de la soif (Drinkers’ Alley), properly known as rue Saint-Michel. With a French record-breaking one bar every 7 metres, it is worthy of its nickname. On the other side of Place Sainte-Anne, a tour of rue de Saint-Malo is a must for getting a taste of the “mischievous” spirit: at Café des Jacobins, we especially enjoy the ambiance on the terrace at cocktail hour when the sun shines behind the Couvent des Jacobins conference centre. In the direction of the Thabor gardens, rue Saint-Melaine has a number of restaurants with terraces that are lovely places to stop in at before visiting the gardens.
On the other side of the Place, going down towards the Vieux Saint-Etienne theatre via rue d’Echange, you can find a little oasis of peace in the shade of horse chestnut trees on the terraces of the P’tit Saint-Etienne and Copain Copine.
VERY POPULAR TERRACES ON THURSDAY EVENING AND DURING THE SATURDAY MORNING MARKET
In days gone by, knights would compete in memorable tournaments on the Place des Lices. Now, at the end of the day, it’s a bit of a battle to find a space on the packed terraces, especially on Thursday evening, when the students are out and about, or on Saturday mornings, when the Marché des Lices market is in full swing. From end to end, the Place is brimming with a variety of delightful terraces with views over private mansions and, further in the distance, the Horizons towers. Here, there is a multitude of bars, each with its own style: La Grappe wine bar has the ambiance of a small Parisian cafe with a terrace that is well placed for market day, while the terrace at Délirium Café, a pub with an immense range of beers, has a panoramic view over the Place and the Halles Martenot market. For fans of oysters, Iodé is also an excellent spot at sunset and right next to the fish market. The Webb Ellis, opposite the square’s clocktower where everyone meets, is strategically located for watching the student crowds pass by on Thursday evening, when the festive atmosphere is at its height.
At the bottom of the Place des Lices, you can let your hair down at L’Amaryllis, Le Chantier or Le Gazoline, among many others. All around, other pleasant terraces invite you in for a drink or dinner: at Le Carré, on its magnificent terrace in a 17th-century private mansion or on rue Nantaise, where you can find excellent restaurants (Chez Pierre, le Bistrot des Remparts, Coquille, le Café Breton, L’Atelier des Gourmets, etc.), the majority of which have terraces. And why not head over to the other side of the canal, at the foot of the Horizons building? At Amrok, a new cellar restaurant with more than 200 types of beer, the low-angle view of the Rennes’ skyscraper will make your head spin.
A LEISURELY ATMOSPHERE ON RESTAURANT TERRACES
Around a fountain shaped like a Chrysalide (Chrysalid), by Sylvain Dubuisson, in which you can see Tristan and Isolde, the atmosphere is of a gourmet siesta. The rue de la soif may be just a short walk away, but here is more like place de la faim (Foodie’s Square), as there are several of restaurants with well-appointed terraces. Fancy a pizza? Head to Chez Gepetto. Hungry for Asian specialities? Head to Chawp Shop BBQ or Pitaya Rennes. If you are a fan of gourmet cheeses and spreads, take a seat on the Chez Fanch cheese shop’s terrace. If you are on the hunt for crepes, Crêperie Rennaise will be happy to have you. For drinks, the place to be is the Poney Club, which is on the corner of a street that leads to another, somewhat secret location with other hidden terraces: the Prison Saint-Michel, better known by its codename “PSM”.
From the terraces on the rue Rallier du Baty, you get a beautiful view of the façades on the traditional half-timbered houses and even the remains of the Rennes ramparts. This was where the Saint-Michel gate once stood, one of the main fortified entrances to the Breton capital.
A SUNNY SPOT TO WHILE AWAY SOME TIME
The façades of the half-timbered houses on the Place du Champ Jacquet are one of the most famous images of Rennes. Just in front of these precariously stacked houses, several of the terraces make it possible to take advantage of an optimally sunny location to have a tea, a coffee or have lunch at Bar du Champ Jacquet, in the slightly retro atmosphere of Les Fils à Maman or at L’Aparté. For an aperitif, we also recommend visiting Mimo’s Garden before moving on to those other well-known establishments for night owls, La Place and La Contrescarpe.
FROM PLACE DU PARLEMENT TO RUE SAINT-GEORGES
Next to Rennes’ most famous monument, you could take a seat on one of several lovely terraces, such as O’Connell’s, a truly traditional Irish pub, and Mr Georges, so as to admire the Parlement of Brittany in good company. From there, pop along one of the prettiest pedestrian streets, which is lined with bar and restaurant terraces: La Fabrique, Le Café des Bains, Le Saint-Georges and a variety of creperies and Indian or Italian restaurants that are popular with visitors in summer. A peaceful and fun atmosphere is guaranteed here, in what had previously been the original rue de la soif.
FROM SAINT-GERMAIN CHURCH TO RUE BAUDRAIRIE
Although Place Saint-Germain is currently undergoing works for the second metro line, the terraces there are still very pleasant: dash over to Saint-Germain or Seven to try delicious small plates, while Les Petits Papiers has its regulars who come to soak up the sun. It is also worth taking a detour into the lanes around Saint-Germain church, where you will find yet more small terraces. On rue du Vau Saint-Germain, Kilkenny’s Pub will delight fans of the craic.
On the neighbouring rue Baudrairie, you can also enjoy a range of terraces that make ideal lunch spots. This address has a number of choice, affordable options: Cœur d’Artichaut never disappoints, with its warm welcome and delicious organic, vegetarian small plates, try Haricot Rouge for the best hot chocolate in the city, head to Bourbon d’Arsel for an outstanding coffee and visit Vino e Gusto for a journey through Italian flavours. Within just a few square metres, you can sample a vast range of dishes while seated en terrasse.
FROM RUE JULES SIMON TO RUE VASSELOT, IT’S ALL GOOD FOR FOODIES
On the first Sunday of every month, La Criée – Central market welcomes the crowds and communal tables of the Marché à manger gourmet and street food market. However, on every other day, the quarter is brimming with pleasant terraces on the adjacent streets. Opposite the place de la République, along rue Jules Simon, a series of destination restaurants will offer you a warm welcome for lunch and dinner. The terraces are excellent places to enjoy the sunshine. Between Bar’ Expo, La Kitchenette, L’Herbausorus, Le Candiot, Made in Bey and many other restaurants and delicatessen caterers, there is something here for every taste. Whether you’re vegetarian, keen on international cuisine or a fan of French gastronomy, this district is overflowing with outstanding options, such as Léon le Cochon, L’Ambassade, La Chope, Chez Brume and L’AlgoRythme, to name a few.
Just next door, rue Vasselot is a lovely spot where you can sit on a terrace to grab a quick lunch or have a coffee, at Café Joyeux, for example. We also recommend Maloan for craft beer enthusiasts from around the world. Another absolute must is a visit to the Cité d’Ys, where you can enjoy the sunset from the terrace of this quirky pub with its resolutely rock n’ roll soundtrack.
LE TERMINUS, WHERE EVERYONE ENDS UP TO HAVE A DRINK ON THE TERRACE
Before leaving Rennes, or on arrival, there is no need to go far if you’re waiting for a train because the new Rennes TGV high-speed train station has indoor terraces, for example, at Café Richard. And once you leave the station, you are greeted by terraces on the square with Le Café de Rennes, L’Etal d’Edgar and the many restaurants along avenue Janvier, such as Les Pêcheurs, Le Café Noir, Le Galopin and The Station Irish pub. Find even more venues on the Place de la Gare website.
In this district, L’Arrivée cafe’s secret terrace is worth a special mention, in its unusual setting just a stone’s throw from the quays that will make you want to return to Rennes.