Rennes

The grand city of Rennes is urban Brittany at its most charming.

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Historic cobbled streets lined with bars, shops and pretty terraces link together churches, parks and museums in a city that offers intimacy during daytime and friendly Breton cheer when the sun goes down.

Getting active

Treetop adventure

In Parc des Gayeulles, a sprawling area of parkland in northeast Rennes, you'll find the Forêt Adrénaline adventure centre. Attached to your safety harness, you can enjoy fine views from the treetop trail and soar across the lake on a zipline. No experience is required.

Go kayaking

For an alternative way of exploring Rennes, jump in a kayak and paddle your way along the River Vilaine and the adjoining Canal d'Ille-et-Rance. Freestyle along the gentle, leafy waterways to enjoy views of the city landscape and rural periphery.

Take a dip

Shuttle buses run to the Etangs d'Apigné lakes in the southeast, where you can swim in the great outdoors. The popular aquatics centre has a beach, restaurant and various sports activities. If the weather isn't conducive, the piscine Saint-Georges – which has impressive art nouveau-deco crossover architecture – provides a warmer option.

Excursions

La Roche-aux-Fées in Essé

The fascinating dolmen at La-Roche-aux-Fées in Essé 19 miles (30km) southeast of Rennes is thought to be over 5,000 years old. The 20m stone structure is Europe's best-preserved passage tomb. Once you've visited the 'Fairies Rocks', find out more about how the ancient Bretons lived at the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires. The Marcillé-Robert nature reserve is also nearby – you can spot wildlife while relaxing beside the lake.

Chateau de Fougères

Dominating the pretty town of Fougères, 32 miles (52km) northeast of Rennes, is one of France's grandest fortresses. Dating from the 12th century, the imposing Chateau de Fougères stands tall on a rocky ridge up above the medieval quarter. The moated castle has three enclosures around the keep and 13 towers along its extensive, well-preserved walls.

Explore the Vilaine valley

Walk and cycle among nature in the Vilaine valley to the south of Rennes, taking in picturesque meanders, leafy riverbanks and more. Local hiking trails combine with the GR 30 long-distance footpath to join up the viewpoints, allowing you to take in historic stone bridges, the paddle-wheeled Boël watermill and Roman remains at Pléchâtel.