RENNES

Pop­u­la­tion (2016) 426,502

Living France - - Lifestyle -

With such a well-es­tab­lished Celtic cul­ture, the re­gion of Brit­tany is a home away from home for many Bri­tish ex­pats in France. Cap­i­tal of the re­gion since it was in­cor­po­rated into France in the 16th cen­tury, Rennes has a dis­tinct Bre­ton char­ac­ter and proudly cel­e­brates its Celtic her­itage. Although much of the Old Town was de­stroyed in a fire in 1720, the an­cient half-tim­bered houses that sur­vived still charm lovers of me­dieval ar­chi­tec­ture to­day.

With a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of over 60,000, the Bre­ton cap­i­tal is a city for the young at heart. But the 9-5 brigade are by no means left out of the lively scene, as the city has es­tab­lish­ments where any­one and ev­ery­one can pop in for un verre. After a typ­i­cal 35-hour work­ing week, the most pop­u­lar place for work­ers to head to is Rue St-Michel to un­wind. Lined with wall-towall bars and pubs, you’ll quickly find out why it is known lo­cally as ‘Rue de la Soif.’

There are a to­tal of 20 mar­kets in Rennes, in­clud­ing Les Lices, the sec­ond largest in France. The mar­ket takes place ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing, and it seems like the whole of Rennes con­verges here. It is as much a so­cial oc­ca­sion as it is a place to stock up on the es­sen­tials. Pro­duc­ers from all over the re­gion come to sell ev­ery­thing from fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles to seafood, ex­otic spices and home­made choco­late, and to swap their recipe ideas with cus­tomers. Paul and his son Olivier Re­nault from Lou­vi­gné-de-Bais come to sell their Coucou de Rennes chicken, and chefs from all over come to buy Jean-Yves Bordier’s clas­sic and flavoured Bre­ton but­ters.

If you want to make the most of your lunchtime break, slip off into one of the city’s green spa­ces such as the 18th­cen­tury Parc du Tha­bor. Here in the for­mer abbey, you can find themed gar­dens from French to English and botan­i­cal. In the sum­mer months, the gar­den hosts clas­si­cal con­certs, mu­si­cal the­atre, po­etry read­ings and on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons there is tra­di­tional Bre­ton danc­ing.

There’s even big­ger and better cul­ture to be found in many of Rennes’ fa­mous fes­ti­vals. In July Les Tom­bées de la Nuit fes­ti­val at­tracts some 1,000 artists for its street art fes­tiv­i­ties where, ac­cord­ing to the tourist of­fice ‘ev­ery­thing and any­thing goes’, and Les Trans Mu­si­cales event has two weeks of rock mu­sic in De­cem­ber.

And, even though it is com­pact, the city has a sin­gle-line métro sys­tem that runs from the north-west to the south-east of the city, with a 24-hour pass cost­ing €4 that is in­ter­change­able with the bus. As of July 2017, the city’s trans­port links will im­prove fur­ther with a new high­speed train re­duc­ing the jour­ney to Paris to 1h25. To tie in with the train launch, a new project called EuroRennes is in the works. Set to house of­fices, shops, cul­tural fa­cil­i­ties, houses and cor­po­rate com­pa­nies, it will no doubt bring an­other busi­ness boost for Brit­tany’s first city.

Les Lices mar­ket in Rennes takes place ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing

Rennes has an ef­fi­cient trans­port sys­tem

Brit­tany’s cap­i­tal, city Rennes is a lively

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