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Rennes France

stadt 1816739 640

Rennes has been the capital of Brittany since 1532, when the region was finally united with France. It is situated near to the Forêt de Paimpont where King Arthur is said to have received Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, and just to the east are the fortified towns of Fougères and Vitré, showing how fiercely medieval Brittany defended its independence.

Most of the medieval town was destroyed in 1720 when a tipsy carpenter accidentally set the whole town alight. In order to outdo Paris in terms of grandeur, Rennes asked Parisian architects to redesign the town after the fire and what is left is a mishmash of 18th century squares and half timbered houses in the narrow streets leading off them, which makes the town seem rather disjointed. The north of the town is where you will find the old city, where the prettiest streets are the rue St Michel and rue St Georges; the south is very modern in contrast.

Rennes airport information

The stations are both south of River Vilaine, a 20 minute walk from the medieval quarter, but local buses go from place de la République. Rennes has had a metro system since 2002, with useful stops at the gare SNCF, place de la République and place Ste Anne. A day ticket costs €3, with unlimited journeys, or a single costs €1. If you are planning a longer visit, the week ticket is €8.70. The tourist office is in a defunct church at 11 rue St Yves (02 99 67 11 11), and they can help you take advantage of the Bon Week end scheme where you get two nights in a hotel for the price of one.

Rennes does not have many hotels in the old town, so it is best to accept that you are more likely to find accommodation south of the river. One exception is the Au Rocher de Cancale at 10 rue St Michel (02 99 79 20 83), with dinner menus from €13 and very good rooms from €40 55. There is a logis de France at 3 rue Duhamel, called the Garden Hotel (02 99 65 45 06), near the station with comfortable accommodation for about the same price. For cheaper rooms try the area around the station.

Restaurants in Rennes ' old town are concentrated south of place Ste Anne, in the rue St Michel and rue Penhoet, or on the rue St Georges by the place du Palais. South of town, try rue Vasselot for similar restaurants, or the Centre Colombier mall has lots of snackier outlets. For mussels cooked in an astounding number of ways, try Le Parc à Moules, 8 rue Georges Dottin (02 99 31 44 28), or for romantic surroundings head to L'Auberge St Sauveur, 6 rue St Sauveur (02 99 79 32 56), near the cathedral, which has menus from €18.