Barge in the town centre of Rennes
©Barge in the town centre, Rennes|Frank Hamon
ExperienceA spectacular weekend in Rennes

A spectacular weekend in Rennes

Rennes is a city where life is good ! It is famous for its dynamic cultural life, the diversity of its heritage, its wealth of contemporary art and its lively student life. However, the capital of Brittany also offers numerous outdoor activities and water sports.

Bécherel, near Rennes, is an ‘absolute must’ for those who love books and picturesque Breton villages.

Timber-framed houses and terraces, Sainte-Anne's Square in Rennes
©Saint Anne's Square, Rennes |Julien Mignot

SATURDAY

10.00: In the shoes of an adventurer

The day starts off with a bang at Parc Aventure Forêt Adrénaline at Les Gayeulles in Rennes: 17 treetop adventure trails between 1m and 17m above the ground.

Slacklining, Tarzan swings, skateboarding, base jumping, etc. are on the programme. Thrilling sensations on ladders, zip wires, nets and rope bridges at the heart of the largest park in Rennes. Secure conditions with continuous lifelines and qualified staff.

After skimming over the tree tops, next stop is at L’Embarcadère (the jetty) on Quai Saint-Cyr for an original ride through the city centre aboard an electric boat (no permit required).

Travel along the River Vilaine for a different view of Rennes, past barges as far as the Tunnel de République, admiring buildings along the quaysides and the little waterways which join the river.

12.30 : A quick bite to eat

After a morning in the open air, it’s time for something to eat. There are plenty of different restaurants to choose from. Chez Paul in the city centre is a charming bistro in a traditional setting, serving classic dishes detailed on a blackboard. Still in the city centre, Alaska Brocante et Snack sells furniture and vintage objects and offers simple, home-made cooking, such as tarts, soups, etc..

Outside of Rennes, Maison Ronan Kervarrec – Le Saison at Saint-Grégoire is a Michelin-starred restaurant, famous for its refined cuisine and signature dishes. A little further afield, Bistrot Mijoté at Gévezé offers wholesome, generous dishes using fresh, local produce. Finally, La Vieille Auberge at Hédé is a restaurant in a pastoral setting with gastronomic cuisine using fresh, seasonal produce.

Make a lunchtime booking

14.00: A trip along the river in a tranquil valley

Close to Rennes, Boël is a superb natural attraction in the Vilaine Valley. High cliffs of purple shale overlook the river and in the middle is a water mill dating from 1652.

This is a marvellous place for walking enthusiasts with magnificent views from the clifftops. It is also a unique setting for a trip along the river by canoe, kayak or paddle-board, with even more spectacular views of the site. The Canoë Kayak Club de Pont-Réan hires out different craft for both children and adults at the water sports centre.

 

Fix your gaze on the Horizon…

While visiting Rennes, you can’t miss the twin towers which dominate the other buildings in the city : these are Les Horizons designed by Georges Maillols.

Influenced by Le Corbusier, Niemeyer and the Bauhaus movement, Georges Maillols left his mark on Rennes, from the 1950s to 1970s with his avant-garde architecture. 140 buildings illustrate his audacious, pioneering approach to architecture. Among his main designs, which all feature a combination of original geometrical facades with functional, bright interiors, the most impressive are :

  • « Tour Maillols » (1951-1954) at 14 quai Richemont, on the banks of the Vilaine, his first project in Rennes, an 11-storey building, the tallest in the city at the time;
  • The university restaurant at Beaulieu campus (1963), in the shape of a star;
  • La Caravelle (1965-1968) at 16 rue de Brest, whose horizontality contrasts with the verticality of Les Horizons;
  • Barre Saint-Just (1962-1969) at 31 rue Jean Guehenno, a pyramid with hanging gardens;
  • Les Horizons (1968-1970) at 18 rue de Brest, the architect’s emblematic work, the first residential tower block to be built in France. Two towers, 96m and 99.5m, with 32 floors and 480 flats;
  • Le Trimaran (1974-1978) at 20 rue Papu, with prism-shaped balconies.

    22.00: Good night and sweet dreams

    It’s time to rest after a very full day.

    In Rennes, if you would rather sleep outdoors the 3-star Camping des Gayeulles is just a few minutes from the city centre. For a more unusual setting, the Hôtel Le Magic Hall, in the city centre has an original atmosphere with themed bedrooms – dance, music, drama and cinema – for a night of artistic dreams!

    At Bécherel, the ‘Maison d’Hôtes de la Porte Saint-Michel’ is a B&B in a delightful 18th century house at the heart of the character village. The owner, Bruno, has a bookshop in Bécherel, and is delighted to share his love of books with guests.

    Book your accommodation

    SUNDAY: A ‘CITÉ DU LIVRE’® (BOOK TOWN) FULL OF CHARACTER

    The first book town in France, Bécherel is a picturesque village with narrow medieval streets of bookshops, art galleries, book-binding and calligraphy workshops.

    The Book Fair held on the first Sunday of every month brings together booksellers, craftspeople and artists from the village centre and booksellers and second-hand book dealers from elsewhere. Bécherel is also the venue for other events throughout the year : Fête du Livre, Nuit du Livre, Lire en Fête, etc.

    After a walk around the Book Fair, take time to explore the pretty ‘Petite Cité de Caractère®’ with its charming little streets, half-timbered houses and old granite buildings. Follow the rampart walk to Jardin du Thabor garden which offers beautiful views of the village and surrounding countryside.

    Finally, stop off at the Château de Caradeuc, whose vast grounds have given rise to the nickname of « Versailles of Brittany ».

    MILAN KUNDERA, A CZECH AUTHOR EXILED IN RENNES

    Milan Kundera is a Czech author who was forced to flee his native country in 1975 after the Prague Spring. He had already gained recognition as a writer (having been awarded the ‘Prix Médicis étranger ‘in 1973 for Life is Elsewhere), but was forbidden from publishing or teaching in his own country.

    A lecturer at Rennes 2 University, from 1975 to 1979, he lived in a flat on the top floor of the Horizons building where he finished writing his ‘Book of Laughter and Forgetting’ which was published in 1978.

    BRASSERIE NAUTICA AT LA BAUSSAINE, A RANGE OF ORGANIC BEERS

    Among the thirty or so craft breweries in Ille-et-Vilaine, Brasserie Nautica at La Baussaine produces a range of organic character beers which are light and low in alcohol. They are brewed from local ingredients to keep the impact on the environment to a minimum.

    There are six beers, each bearing the name of a boat ranging from L’Hop’timiste, the lightest, to strongly-flavoured La Trois Mâts.

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