The capital and power centre of Brittany since its 1532 union with France, Rennes is – outwardly at least – uncharacteristic of the region, with its Neoclassical layout and pompous major buildings. Any potential it had as a picturesque tourist spot was destroyed in 1720, when a drunken carpenter managed to set light to virtually the whole city. Only the area known as Les Lices, at the junction of the canalized Ille and the River Vilaine, was undamaged.

Rennes’ subsequent remodelling left the city, north of the river at any rate, as a muddle of grand eighteenth-century public squares interspersed with intimate little alleys of half-timbered houses. It’s a lively enough place though, with around sixty thousand university students to stimulate its cultural life, and a couple of major annual festivals, the Tombées de la Nuit and the Transmusicales, to lure in visitors.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

France remains one of the most visited countries in the world – and it's easy to see why. From the bucolic charm of Provence to the metropolitan allure of Par…

14 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors help Quiz
7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

The ingredients for a great European weekend break are simple. You’ll need a walkable city centre, a handful of excellent restaurants, some cool bars, afforda…

14 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month