Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.
The eastern Armorican people of Redones founded Condate —an ancient Celtic word meaning confluent— at the confluence of the Ille and Vilaine rivers and made it the capital of a territory that extended to the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. The name of the city of Redon also reflects that of the Redones. Early in the 1st century BCE, they adopted the Greek and Roman practice of issuing coinage, adapting the widely imitated gold staters of Philip II of Macedon, in the characteristic Celtic coin metal alloy called billion. Without inscriptions, as the Celtic practice was, the Redones coinage features a charioteer whose pony has a human head. Large hoards of their coins were unearthed in the "treasure of Amanlis" found in June 1835 and that of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, discovered in February 1941. The museum at Rennes contains a large representative collection.
The oldest known Rennais is Titus Flavius Postuminus, known to us from his steles found in Rennes in 1969. As indicated by his name, he would have been born under the Flavian dynasty, under the reign of Titus, i.e. between 79 and 81 AD. One of the steles tells us, in Latin, that he took charge over all the public affairs in the Civitas Riedonum. He was twice duumvir and flamen for life for Mars Mullo.
During the Roman era, the strategic position of the town contributed to its importance. To the west the principal Roman route, via Osismii, stretched from Condate to Vorgium (modern Carhaix).
In the year 275, the threat of barbarians led to the erection of a robust brick wall around Rennes. Rennes became known as the "red town".
During the Breton War of Succession, in 1356 and 1357, the city was laid siege to by Henry of Grosmont, the Duke of Lancaster, cousin of the English king, but Bertrand du Guesclin slipped into the city and took over the resistance, which would ultimately be victorious. After nearly a year, Lancaster abandoned the English siege in 1357.
In 1720, a big fire destroyed all timber framed houses in the northern part of the city. The rebuilding was made of stone, on a grid plan.
During World War II, Rennes suffered heavy damage from just three German aircraft which hit an ammunition train parked alongside French and English troop trains and near a refugee train on the yard: 1,000 died. The next day, 18 June 1940, German troops entered the city. Later, Rennes endured heavy bombings by the US and Royal Air Forces in March and May 1943, and again in June 1944, causing hundreds of deaths. Rennes contained a German transit POW camp and a POW hospital which contained many of the paratroopers captured on D-Day. Patton's army freed the capital of Brittany on 4 August, as retreating German troops blew up the bridges behind them, adding further damage. About 50,000 German prisoners were kept in four camps, in a city of only about 100,000 inhabitants at the time.
From 1954 onward, the city developed extensive building plans to accommodate upwards of 220,000 inhabitants, helping it become the third fastest-growing city in France, after Toulouse and Montpellier (1999 census).
Rennes is particularly nice in early July, during the "Festival des Tombées de la Nuit". Its streets are then full of people enjoying the free street entertainment and eating or drinking at the terraces of the restaurants and cafés.
|Festival des Tombées de la Nuit|
La Visitation is a new shopping mall located in the center close to Place Sainte Anne. You'll find two main stores; H&M and Saturn and some others. This little shopping mall links the Place Ste Anne toPlace Hoche where is the law university.
If you're looking for high budget shopping mall, les Galleries Lafayette located in the center on the quais(docks), almost Place de la Republique, are made for you. You'll find food, clothes, games, make-up, furniture, perfume, ...
On the edge of the city you'll find other shopping malls where most of people buy food in big supermarkets. If this is what you're looking for, ask for centre Alma, centre commercial de Cleunay, Grand quartier, orcentre commercial de Cesson-Sevigne.
- Rennes Cathedral (cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes) is a Roman Catholic cathedral. It is a monument historique since 1906. It is the seat of the Archbishops of Rennes, previously Bishops of Rennes. The site has been used for a cathedral more or less from the beginnings of the see in the 6th century. The earliest building was completely replaced by a Gothic cathedral in the 12th century, of which in 1490 the tower and the entire west front collapsed. The existing façade with its neoclassical granite towers in four stages was constructed over the next two centuries or so, with long gaps between the different stages: the lowest level was built between 1541 and 1543, the second from 1640 to 1654 (by Tugal Caris), and the fourth (by Pierre Corbineau) from 1654 to 1678. Yet another architect, François Hoguet, completed the towers, between 1679 and 1704, at their present height of 48 metres and added the device of Louis XVI between them. The nave and choir however had not been restored. During vespers on 11 February 1754 a great stone fell from the roof of the choir, and it was decided, before the entire body of the cathedral collapsed, to demolish all these parts and rebuild them. The demolition was carried out between 1756 and 1768, leaving only the towers and west front standing. Rebuilding began in 1787, shortly after which the French Revolution began and all work was suspended. It did not recommence until 1816, initially under the supervision of the architect Mathurin Crucy. He died in 1826; the work was continued under the local architect Louis Richelot, and finished in 1845.
- The Saint George Palace is an historic building in the city of Rennes. Formerly an abbey residence, it was built in 1670 to replace a much older abbey building that stood on the same site. The Benedictine Abbey of Saint George (Abbaye Saint-Georges de Rennes) was forced to close in 1792 during the French Revolution and the property was seized by the government. Since 1930 the building has been listed as a monument historique of France.
- Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes is a municipal museum of fine arts. Its collections range from ancient Egypt antiquities to the Modern art period and make the museum one of the most important in France outside Paris, notably for its paintings and drawings holdings. The museum was established in 1794 during the French Revolution like most of the main French museums. Its first collections were the confiscated artworks of the churches and public buildings of Rennes. However the majority of the present holdings come from the private collection of Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698–1756), a president of the Parlement de Bretagne, which was at the time of the Revolution one of the largest of its kind in Europe. It comprised drawings, prints, paintings, antiques and sculptures. The museum's collections continued to expand during the 19th and the 20th century thanks to donations and acquisitions. The building housing the museum was built between in 1847 and 1855 but it is only since 1911 that it is entirely devoted to the museum's collections. The building and the exposition rooms have been restored and modified several times.
- Les Champs Libres is a brand new building in which you'll find le musee de Bretagne, l'espace des Sciences and the bibliotheque municipale. It's a wonderful place where you can learn a lot about Rennes, about Brittany, and about sciences and history. There are a lot of exhibitions (temporary and permanent), forums, and debates. There's also an outside cafe overhanging Place Charles de Gaulle where you can meet people and talk about whatever you feel like. If you feel like reading newspapers, head to the room in front of you when you enter that building, choose your favourite one and sit with other peers. But if you want to have a nice look at the city centre, head to last floor of the public library and enjoy. Don't forget to be quiet or they'll remind you! If you don't feel like going to the movies, you can climb up to the planetarium (around 7€ for exposition and planetarium) and enjoy 1h30 of live "show" about space, stars, legends,... Check the schedule on their website for your favourite theme.
- The Parlement of Brittany (Fr: parlement de Bretagne) was a court of justice, under France’s Ancien Régime, with its seat at Rennes. The last building to house the parlement still stands and is now the Rennes Court of Appeal, the natural successor of the parlement. The current building was officially opened on January 16, 1655 by the oldest of the presidents of the parlement. The building has been recently restored, following severe fire damage on February 5, 1994, a consequence linked to the violent demonstrations of the local fishermen. Adapted to the requirements of the 21st century, the Court of Appeal of Rennes was able to resume the activities of the previous centuries. Other, newer buildings in the city are home to the various forms of justice (Law courts, civil courts etc.).