Rennes, the Breton Surprise
A walk around Rennes, the capital of Brittany, takes you back to medieval times. A large number of houses with wooden framing are still preserved in the streets of the historic centre. Wood was a popular building material in this region until the mid-17th century, when it was replaced by stone after the large fire of 1720 that burnt down more than 900 houses in the city centre. However, these old wooden buildings can be seen in the streets running from Rue de Chapitre and Champ-Jacquet square, with a statue of John Leperdit, the mayor of Rennes during the French Revolution.
Rennes has some beautiful spots, one of my favourite being the Place des Lices, where terrace cafés are jam-packed with the arrival of the good weather. In summer, evenings in Brittany are endless and the sun doesn't go down until after 10 p.m. Some centuries ago, this place was the setting of medieval jousts. Nowadays, its market is the second most important in France, bringing together more than 300 local and regional producers.
Two of the symbols of Rennes' medieval past are the Duchesne tower and the Mordelles Gates –Portes Mordellaises– which were part of the city walls in the 15th century. The Neoclassical Cathedral of Saint-Pierre is close by, as is the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur, both landmarks of the city's religious architecture.
The fires of the early 18th century marked a turning point in Rennes' urban design. After that, constructions were built in stone, notably the city hall, by the royal architect – Jacques Gabriel – who designed it to be immortal.
Another must-see is the Palace of the Parliament of Brittany, with lavishly decorated rooms representative of 17th-century French pictorial art. This building is an emblem of the historical region of Brittany, which has a culture and a language of its own. Some street names in Rennes are in Breton, as well as in French, the former being the only surviving Celtic language outside the British Isles.
Contemporary art has a notable presence in Rennes. Examples of this are the Parmiggiani fountain, the Cap Mail building, by the prestigious Jean Nouvel, Quai Ouest by Christian Hauvette, and Champs Libres by Christian de Portzamparc. The Champs Libres premises are divided into three areas: the Musée de Bretagne – with a surface area of 2,000 square metres – a six-floor library, and an area devoted to science, with a planetarium. Rennes also has a great art gallery in the Museum of Fine Arts, an old university palace designed by Vincent Boullé, featuring works by Rubens, Veronese and Picasso, among others. In music, the city is well known for Les Transmusicales de Rennes, a festival that has been offering new and eclectic music for its last 32 editions.
Finally, Thabor Park, a very pleasant spot, is one of the most important green areas of the Breton capital. This 10-hectare French-style garden, which used to belong to the monks of Saint-Melaine– features a rose garden, an aviary, statues and greenhouses, amongst other attractions. Musical comedy and dance performances are held here on Sundays in the months of May and June; many people attend these entry-free events.
Rennes is a city with lots of charm and can be easily discovered in a single weekend! Check out our flights here.
Text by María Jesús Tomé
The 3 Best Crêperies» in Rennes
We travelled to Rennes but, before embarking on this delectable tour, just a word of clarification – a crêperie does not only serve crêpes, but two, distinct variations. First, there are the galettes, in which the dough is made of water, butter, eggs and buckwheat. They are usually filled with savoury ingredients and accompanied with a glass of cider or a buttermilk known as lait ribot. Then of course, there are the crêpes proper, which are sweet. You have been warned!
Traditional and… Organic Galettes – Crêperie Paysanne
Make sure you stop over at this restaurant in the place Sainte-Anne pedestrian precinct, in the heart of the city. Their crêpes and galettes are really exceptional and the helpings plentiful, spilling out of the dish. The peculiarity of Crêperie Paysanne is that all the dishes are made with organic, regional ingredients. We can recommend traditional Brittany galette, with ham, cheese and an egg garnish. With such tasty, fresh ingredients, this basic galette gives off all its potential in flavour and aroma, particularly if washed down with cider or apple juice, which here are especially potent on account of their organic, homemade character. As if that were not enough, the galettes can be accompanied with a glass of lait ribot, which is currently made only in Brittany. The taste? Something like natural buttermilk, but with a sour, yoghurt aftertaste. Average price: galette + drink - €13 per head.
33 Savoury Specialities, & 33 Sweet Ones – Crêperie Saint-Georges
This is the crêperie which locals recommend and that is always a reliable sign. Here they offer more than 33 galettes and the same number of crêpes. The menu’s originality lies in the fact that each dish pays homage to some illustrious “George”. Special mentions go to George Clooney, featuring fresh goatsmilk cheese, spinach, tomato, cucumber sorbet and basil, and Giogio Armani, with a filling of pan-cooked foie gras, sautéed potatoes, duck magret, fleur de sel and balsamic reduction. Among the most original crêpe dishes are assorted sweets, and Milka or Smarties chocolate, but only for the really sweet-toothed. Modern, elegant interior design which exudes serenity. Average price: galette + drink - €12 per head.
Peace & Food – La Rozell
In downtown Rennes, La Rozell is another prominent venue. While their menu is as worthy of any other crêperie, what singles this one out is its priceless interior patio, where you can dine amid lush vegetation – a genuinely peaceful backwater, secluded from noise and the city bustle. Of the galettes, we especially liked l’armorique (sautéed scallop, bacon, cream and mushrooms). For dessert, try the fouesnantaise,made of apple flambéed with Lambig (a local, cider-based spirit), or the tatin caramel, a delicacy filled with salted butter – one of the region’s treasures – sautéed apple, homemade caramel and vanilla ice-cream. A taste of heaven! Average price: galette + drink - €12 per head.
You’re getting hungry, right? Come to Rennes and try their crêpes and galettes. Check out our flights here.
Text and images by Laia Zieger (Gastronomistas)more info
La Grande Branderie
Si te gusta estar al acecho de las mejores gangas y ofertas, tienes en la Grande Braderie de Rennes la mejor oportunidad. El 26 de junio, Rennesse transformará en este inmenso mercadillo al aire libre en el que poder encontrar algún tesoro escondido y muchas gangas entre antigüedades, ropa, objetos de decoración o joyas, porque en La Grande Branderie de Rennes todo se compra y se vende.
Se trata, junto al gran mercado callejero de Lille, de la feria de saldos más grande de Francia, en la que buscar y rebuscar entre miles de puestos de comercios esparcidos por 60 calles de la ciudad.
Un acontecimiento festivo, familiar y amigable para todas las generaciones que reúne cada año a más de 400.000 visitantes.
Te han entrado ganas de ir a Rennes? Consulta aquí nuestros vuelos!more info
Land of legends
Visiting Brittany is reviving the exciting European medieval history, delving into their cultural roots, their traditions and their legends. Rennes is the capital of Brittany, but it is also at the gates of the Normandy region and is a leading architectural heritage place and witness of the history of the region. Around the two Royal squares, Parliament and the City Council, and their features wood and Renaissance mansions half-timbered houses, centuries of history are drawn.
30 kilometers from Rennes you will find the leafy forest full of oaks and beeches in Brocéliande, a magical place of Celtic myths and legends. Here is where you usually place many episodes in the novels of the Round Table. This was the place where King Arthur ordered to seek the Holy Grail and also where lived the fairy Viviana, the knight Lancelot and Merlin, friend and adviser of the young Arthur, who was trapped by love there as it is rumored.
On the magical forest of Broscelae, you will travel across hidden paths that will lead you to the Secret Bridge, Paimpont village and its beautiful abbey or to Brocéliande castles and the Holly Pasage.
If you like being on the lookout for the best bargains and deals, you have at La Grande Braderie in Rennes one of the best chances. That days Rennes becomes this huge outdoor market where you can find some hidden treasure and many bargains among antiques, clothes, ornaments or jewelry, because everything is bought and sold at La Grande Braderie in Rennes.
With the large street market in Lille, this is the biggest Opportunities Fair in France. Here you may search and dig through thousands of stalls belonging to shops, scattered around 60 streets of the city.
And to eat, you will find in the medieval heart of the city, on a picturesque XVIth century inn, the Auberge du Chat-Pitre that will take you to the Middle Ages. Here the bartenders are dressed as innkeepers of the time. Do not worry as they will not force you to eat boar thighs by your hands like Asterix and Obelix, but you will feel the atmosphere of a magical night with the animation of minstrels, jugglers, storytellers and magicians in a memorable meal.
And with such funny names for their traditional recipes as druid stew, wild boar hugs or mountebank you may have with Hypocras, a drink made of red wine, honey and spices that made the delight of our ancestors.
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!