As a thriving European city, Rennes is a model of France’s complex architectural styles and cultural customs
Rennes as been described as best city to live in, in French « n°1 des villes où il fait bon vivre » according to L’Express. This is due to Rennes’ festive atmosphere and cultural dynamism, our town is full of joy and happiness with its numerous restaurants, coffee shops, crowded bars and creators shops.
With its two big campus, Rennes is a college town where a major part of young people from the West of France decide to move when they end high school. This large rate of students contributes to the popularity of the city. Rennes is famous for being a place where the students love to party, meet in bars and restaurants, go to concerts, theaters and museums.
Rennes is also appreciated for its Breton identity. The region of Brittany is famous for its gastronomy, music, culture, and also architecture that you will be able to enjoy during our sightseeing tour on the first day if you take part in our conference !
Here are some recommendations of what you should see if you come to Rennes.
La Chapelle Saint-Yves
This chapel was built in the 15th century and is now hosting Rennes’ tourism office. It is thus the best place to start! It is located in the old part of Rennes which is characterized by its old narrow streets and its half-timbered houses, especially around the Chapitre Street and Dames Street. This architecture is very typical of Rennes and other French cities. In this historical center, you will find many “crêperies”, where you can try Brittany’s typical food.
La Place Saint-Anne
Saint Anne’s Square (La Place Saint-Anne) is home to the Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle de Rennes Basilica, nestled amongst Middle Age-styled, half-timbered homes. Saint Anne’s Square is also known for its many restaurants, especially along Saint-Malo Street, and bars, mainly along Saint-Michel Street, the famous “Rue de la Soif” aka “Street of Thirst”. This is one of the places where students meet at night to have a drink.
City Hall, Opera, Parliament
Just a short walk down Le Bastard Street, one will encounter an assortment of clothing stores, along with City Hall and the Opera. We can assure you it is the best place if you want to go shopping. There, you will see a different architecture. The streets are larger and the houses are built with granit stone. They were built after the fire of 1720 which destroyed an important part of the North of Rennes. One block away from the City Hall, you can admire the Parliament of Brittany which is now used as Rennes’ appeal court.
To the South is Republic Square, the hub of Rennes’ public transportation system named STAR. Rennes has a good public transportation system. The spine of this network is the underground train which is connected with the central train station.This is very convenient if you come to Rennes by train (1h30 away from Paris). Major bus lines travel with a high frequency during the day (with a waiting time of between 4 and 9 minutes).
Rennes is a growing city with an impressive urban dynamism. Many new neighborhoods have been built recently, with interesting and original buildings. We advise you to have a walk on the avenue Mail François Mitterrand to admire the glass building made by the famous architect Jean Nouvel. This avenue is also a great place to have a drink, in one of its bars or on the riverbanks of the Vilaine River. You can also visit Charles de Gaulle Square where you will find the Champs Libres complex, which gathers in an innovative building Rennes’ Museum of Brittany and the City of Rennes Regional Library. You will also see the Gaumont, main theatre of Rennes.
Parks & green areas
Rennes is a green city. For several years now, the city has been trying to reduce the number of cars in the center and to encourage the conservation of natural spaces. We advise you to visit Rennes’ most famous public park: the Thabor. It is a great place to relax, located very close to Sciences Po Rennes and the Hotel de Courcy where the conference will take place. You can also have a walk in the Gayeulles and the Maurepas parks. Finally, we recommend you to walk around the riverbanks of the Vilaine River. You can rent a public bike for 1€/hour, and go from the city center to the Apigné lakes in 20 minutes only. If you want to know more about Rennes’ bicycle system, follow this link.
Want to stay for the weekend? Here are some ideas of restaurants, coffee shops and bars you might want to try!
Food of the world:
- ChawpShop: a Thai restaurant, very affordable and the food is delicious
- Mezzelicious: a Lebanese restaurant, you should try the 15 euros menu which allows you to try many dishes for a fare price
- Poutine Bros: Canadian specialty, we highly recommend the Indian poutine
- Crêperie Saint Georges: a very fancy and renowned crêperie
- Marché des Lices: if you don’t have the budget for a fancy crêperie, you should definitely give a try to a « galette saucisse » in the market which takes place every Saturday morning on Place des Lices
- Bureau des Sports (BDS): a bar, all you can eat Sunday brunch and enormous burgers ina comfy ambiance with huge rocking chairs
- Roadside: for cheddars and onions fries lovers, but also for burgers lovers
- Big Fernand: a little bit pricey but very high quality burgers with amazing ingredients and special drinks
- Deiz Mat burger: Yes, Bretons achieved to assimilate burgers within their culture
- Little Havana: a great option for vegan and veggies, very original burgers
- Oh my biche: a cozy place with delicious avocado toast, special hangover cure and great drinks
- Les grands gamins: brunch every weekend, a salty assortment and a sugary one plus a hot and a fresh drink for 20 euros, the menu changes every month and is always at our taste
- Café Albertine: carrot cake, cheesecake, everything for sugar lovers, they alsomake a brunch on Saturdays
- La kitchenette: cakes as much as brunch are over the top here
- It’s five o’clock somewhere: the most British place in town
- La Lichouille: hot chocolate made with mixed chocolate bars and hot milk
- Fox and Friends: Irish bar where they also make burgers and brunch
- PennyLane: great drinks as much as good food and concerts on weekend
- O’Connel Irish Pub: plenty of beers and a nice English breakfast for 10 euros
- Delirium: the famous Belgium brand
- L’atelier de l’Artiste: a nice patio, tone of beers and wine
- Peacock: cocktail bar with board games