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.
Visit the historic quarter
Though much of Rennes was destroyed by fire in 1720, delightful pockets of the medieval city remain. Curious half-timbered houses line the quaint streets around Place Ste-Anne, and the marvellous Porte Mordelaise castle entrance is nearby. The Palais du Parlement de Bretagne is a dramatic piece of architecture, faithfully restored in the 1990s, and the next atmospheric plaza or cobbled alley is never far away.
Rennes' 19th-century cathedral is relatively young in 'old town' terms, but it’s undoubtedly one of the city's cultural highlights. The towering Catholic church is particularly notable for the neoclassical towers, which form the exterior façade, and its beautifully decorated ceiling. Other features of note include the Roman high altar, pipe organ, and fascinating vaults. It's well worth a look inside.
Go to the museum
Rennes has various museums to choose from, with the Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée de Bretagne the most prominent. The former features extensive fine art collections spanning from the 15th century to the present; the latter offers an intriguing insight into Breton traditions. At the Champs Libres cultural centre, south of the river, you can visit the library and the Espace des Sciences museum and planetarium.