A Unique History

Rennes: the historical capital of Brittany

Rennes is the administrative capital of the French department of Ille-et-Vilaine, named after the two rivers that converge within the city. Its name is derived from a Celtic tribe, the Riedones, who first settled in that part of Brittany before being conquered by Julius Caesar in 57 BC.

Prior to the integration of the Duchy into the French Kingdom towards the end of the 15th century, Brittany had long been a stronghold of opposition to the monarchy, using its own parliament as a standard for independence and political legitimacy.

In 1720, a major fire swept through the northern part of the city, destroying the largely wooden homes that had until that point been widespread. This prompted a major redesign effort, reconstructing houses in stone and placing them in a uniform grid plan.

During the Second World War, Rennes was seriously damaged due to heavy bombing from the Luftwaffe, but from the US and Royal Air Forces in 1940, 1943 and 1944, which claimed the lives of thousands of people. The city was liberated on 4th August 1944 by the forces of General Patton whose efforts were rewarded by the renaming of various streets and public buildings in his honour.

In the second part of the 20th century, the city experienced a new era of urban expansion along with the development of a solid industrial sector, especially in the automotive industry. Now with a population of 58,000 students out of 240,000 inhabitants, as well as the creation of universities and specialised research institutes, Rennes has placed itself at the forefront of academic and technological excellence.

Now that you can’t wait to come over, feel free to have a look at « Explore the City ».

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