Rennes, Place de la République

Visit Rennes in one day

One day in the capital of Brittany

What should you see in Rennes if you are passing through and only have a few of hours? It’s easy to get to grips with the city so you can enjoy an ample taster of the Breton capital’s charms. It will certainly be enough to make you want to come back for a longer visit

Stroll through the historic centre

Les maisons à pans de bois de Rennes
© Destination Rennes / Bruno Mazodier

Around the Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the Tourist Office lies the historic heart of the city and its pedestrian alleys where a trip through time awaits. Discover the historic centre of Rennes, from the Portes Mordelaises castle gates and the ramparts to the timber-framed houses, small squares and terraces of the pedestrian quarter. The quarter is a hub of Rennes heritage and the local approach to daily life; rue du Chapitre is home to elegant shops and rue de la Psalette to colourful old houses, and rue Saint-Sauveur hosts excellent culinary establishments. A stroll around this area is a must! Morning is the best time to appreciate its peacefulness before reaching the Place des Lices, the Saint-Michel quarter or the place Sainte-Anne where you can sit on one of the cafe terraces.

While away your time on en terrasse

La terrasse du Ty-Anna
© Destination Rennes / Bruno Mazodier

The bar or café terrace is the preferred second home for the people of Rennes and plays an important role in local life. All you have to do is choose one: in the Parc du Thabor, place du Calvaire, on the rue de la Soif, Place Sainte-Anne or on the Place des Lices, which is home to the second largest food market in France on Saturday mornings, or even on the other side of the Vilaine river in rue Vasselot, rue Jules Simon or rue de la Chalotais. Come rain, snow or wind, you’ll always the terrace of a cafe, bar or restaurant to welcome you with open arms. And there is no better place to enjoy the sunshine. Take a seat and just watch the world go by.

Eat a crepe and a galette

Manger une crêpe ou une galette à Rennes, un rituel incontournable
© Destination Rennes / Bruno Mazodier

In Brittany, lunchtime means heading to the creperie. Enjoy the Breton specialty in a number of varieties: a savoury galette as a main course, a sweet crepe as a dessert and, if you want to try the local street food, the galette-saucisse is a type of delicious take away Armorican hot dog. If you spend just one day in Rennes, going to a crepe stall is a must!

Admire the architecture in the place de la mairie

L'Opéra de Rennes
© Destination Rennes / Bruno Mazodier

Before leaving Rennes, don’t forget to admire the place de la Mairie. On one side is the town hall, designed by the king’s architect Jacques Gabriel after the fire of 1720, with its original clock tower. On the other side is the rounded façade of the smallest opera house in France, which opened in 1836. Both seem to have been created to go hand in hand. This is one of the 10 unmissable places to see during a visit to the city.

Go shopping

Une rue de Rennes

Why not make the most of your stroll in the city centre to do a bit of window shopping? With designer boutiques, excellent spots for interior decorations, concept stores and department stores, there is plenty of choice for superb shopping concentrated in one small area. You can walk everywhere in Rennes!

And before getting the train, don’t forget to stock up on souvenirs at the Tourist Office shop (1 rue de Saint-Malo), next to the Place de la Gare or in the high-speed train station to find presents and Breton products.

See an exhibition

Aller voir une exposition à Rennes
© Destination Rennes / Bruno Mazodier

If you prefer something more educational, swing by an exhibition or museum to round off your short day in Rennes. Entry is free to the Criée centre for contemporary art in the Halles Centrales. On the quays, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) is packed with masterpieces. Just next to the station, the Champs Libres centre offers temporary and permanent exhibitions based on sciences, Breton history and art for all.

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