Rennes, the city of possible
When she was just 19 years old and without a word of French, Tomoko arrived in Rennes. She tackled this challenge with her force and joy of life. “I wanted to continue my musical studies abroad. Through random internet searches, I found opportunities at the Rennes Conservatory of Music which has a transverse flute class, my instrument. I adapted well sharing accommodation with two French students. “
The city of all possibilities
I joined the graduate level of the Conservatory to prepare the final exam and then continued improvement in the Paris region for four years. I thought to settle in Paris, but I did not want to leave Rennes where I was teaching, where the quality of life is incomparable and where the man who would be my husband was! After, I had some contracts with the Orchestre de Bretagne, and the Opéra de Rennes. “
New friends in artistic projects
Originally a classical flutist, I also play afro-rock in a group called Mamadou Koita and electro-pop with Jeremy Meyer; I was a musician and actor in Le Frisson des pastilles by Julien Mellano … In the Arborescent collective, with young professional musicians, we hold theme concerts to bring classical music to the general public. I love new artistic adventures, and in Rennes that is easy to find.
When the Tourist Office contacted me to do translations and to accompany a French guide with Japanese groups, I thought it was a great opportunity. I discovered something that was natural for me. So, with the creation of the greeters association in Rennes, I was thrilled! It’s really nice to be part of the team. We welcome visitors from the US, Paris, Toulouse and Marseille … All are surprised and seduced by the city.
The Greeters, participatory tourism
In New York in the early 1990s, the first greeters appeared, normal residents of the city began to participate in tourism. Since, the phenomenon has been emulated around the world. France has the largest number of branches. A very special kind of tour guide, greeters show the city any tourist who so requests on the Internet, free of charge. They show the Rennes in which they live and as they like it, their neighbourhoods and the places they love. Visits are moments of sharing where links are forged, while shopping at markets, during cultural outings, resting in a park and a glass or two on terraces!
The serenity of the gardens and ancient stone
To recharge my batteries, I often go to Tabor Park, with its Rose Garden, large trees, lawns, small woods, alleys, and a very nice cafe. I love the Saint-Melaine cloister; it is very beautiful and very serene. I also like the little garden of Vieux Saint-Etienne with its ancient church, now a theatre, another refuge of silence and tranquillity in the heart of the city.
I love the Historic Centre. I walk my dogs on rue Chapitre and rue des Dames in the morning … I love these pedestrian streets, its ancient bricks and cobblestones. In France, they know how to preserve ancient buildings. I love to feel the atmosphere, observe the details, linger a little, and return to find something I had not seen before. And it’s not just the city centre: the city is now detached from its original core, it has spread. There are real living neighbourhoods!
The secrets of the historic centre
Around the Cathedral Saint-Pierre in Rennes, wind the oldest streets in the city. This tangle of narrow streets and alleys with cobblestones and timber framed houses plunge visitors into a very special experience. It is easy to imagine how the heart of the old centre of the city once beat along this footpaths. The walk takes on the gait of time travel, and delights lovers of history, architecture and peace.
Spared by the great fire of 1720, rue du Chapitre was one of the largest streets in the city. It is home to some buildings and houses, built from the 15th to 17th centuries, with colourful timber and decorated with sculptures. The pink hue of the cobblestones is that of the sandstone quarried from the cliffs on the coast between Erquy and Cap Frehel. Continuing east, we cross the rue des Dames, with la maison de la Chouette (No. 12) built in the Middle Ages and then (No. 19) Hotel de la Bellangerais (birthplace of the Admiral de la Motte-Picquet). The medieval architecture, the irregularity of the large paving, narrow streets, the sweet and serene atmosphere, makes the discovery of the Rennes historic centre pleasant and surprising.
Conviviality, a way of life
The bars around the Vieux Saint-Etienne garden are very pleasant. I go there every Friday night with friends. Every Saturday morning, I drink coffee with my husband and our friends after the Lices market. This is the beating heart of Rennes, and the centre of my life. Whenever I can, I go to Brazilian parties organised by my friend Pedro Rosa, a cosmopolitan citizen of Rennes. He is one of those foreigners who bring the town to life. I also have a Colombian friend called Juan Manuel Reyes. He mixes for salsa nights in the bar Au Coin du Monde or Cubanacane.
Rennes to the rhythms of Brazil
Dancer, dance teacher and choreographer from Brazil, Pedro Rosa is the emblem of the Brazilian-Breton blending. His regard and relaxed slender figure lead the city into a captivating fervour. Classically trained, Pedro Rosa is reinventing Brazilian dance, combining it with contemporary dance and influences from his voyages around the world following collaborations and performances. He always returns to Rennes where he teaches contemporary dance (University Rennes 2) and organises courses and shows (Compagnie Ochossi).
Pedro Rosa also organises the Brazilian coloured Sunday dance, one Sunday a month in the Beauregard neighbourhood, and the Seigneur de Bonfim festival every January. In Rennes, as in Salvador de Bahia, people dress in white to dance and have fun.