MAY 12,2017 - MAY 12,2017 (1 DAYS)
Main Attractions: Jardin (Palais) Saint Georges, Parc du Thabor, Place de la République, Hôtel de Ville at Place de la Mairie, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes, Portes Mordelaises, Tour Duchesne, Hôtel de Blossac, Rue du Chapitre, Basilique Saint-Sauveur, Parlement de Bretagne, Le Champs Libres.
Distance: 12 km. Duration: 3/4 - 1 day. Weather: no rain or wind. Start and End: Gare de Rennes.
Introduction: Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany. Rennes is a medium size town and well worth a visit. BUT, during the years 2016-2018 it is under heavy construction works (underground lines) which makes a little damage to its lustre and young appeal. and It has more than 200,000 inhabitants, of whom about 60,000 are students. This gives the town a vibrant nightlife: a ‘city with a small town vibe’. Rennes is a perfect blend of city and small town life. It is considered as the best city in France for foreigners to live - beating the likes of Lyon, Nice, and yes, even Paris. Most people thoughts inevitably go to Paris, and then perhaps to the sunny French Riviera. But in a quality of life - this humble city in Brittany in western France came out as the surprise winner. French voters pointed on Rennes as an excellent place to live for foreigners (and French people as well, of course). Ther city has an exceptional historical heritage. It is welcoming and diverse. Rennes is a lively university and student city that is accustomed to opening the door to foreigners. There are parts of Rennes that are quite similar to Montmartre (in Paris), with lots of bars and cafes. But, of course it’s not as expensive as Paris. In 2018, L'Express named Rennes as "the most liveable city in France". Some streets, such as the Rue Saint Michel, have only bars on both sides. (The locals actually call it "la rue de la soif", which means "Street of Thirst". The most exciting night on "Rue de la Soif" would be the "Jeudi Soir", Thursday nights, during the universities terms. Jeudi Soir is the night when bars are most often packed with students. The sights on Thursday nights out on the town are very memorable and interesting. 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. In recent years, Rennes's bars and cafes are bustling all throughout the year. There are more than 70,000 students in Rennes. it is the eighth-largest university campus in France. Rennes is now a significant digital innovative centre in France. Now, it is the tenth largest in France.
Short History: Rennes's history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small Gallic village. It was one of the major cities of the ancient Duchy of Brittany. From the early 16th century until the French Revolution, Rennes was a parliamentary, administrative and garrison city of the historic province of Brittany of the Kingdom of France. Due to the presence of the Parlement de Bretagne, many "hôtels particuliers" were built, and still exist, in the northern part, the richest in the 18th century. The Parlement de Bretagne is the most famous 17th century building in Rennes. It was rebuilt after a terrible fire in 1994. Since the 1950s, Rennes has grown in importance and increased its number of inhabitants through plans to accommodate upwards of 200,000 inhabitants. During the 1980s, Rennes became one of the main centres in telecommunication and high technology industry.
Our Hotel: Hotel ibis Styles Rennes Centre Gare Nord, 15 Place de la Gare. Opposite the railway station, bus station and metro and 10 minutes’ walk from the historic city centre and Parlement de Bretagne.
Our 1-day itinerary: From Hotel ibis Styles Rennes Centre Gare Nord we head northwest on Place de la Gare toward Avenue Jean Janvier, 50 m. We turn right onto Avenue Jean Janvier. Walk 500 m. northward (passing Rue Albery Aubry, Rue Descartes, Boulevard de la Liberté and Rue Saint Thomas on your left). Note at #7 Avenue Jean Janvier this building of the municipality of Rennes. The building dates from 1928. Its architect is Jean Poirier who built several other housing buildings in Rennes between 1928 and 1936. The mosaics are of Isidore Odorico:
We return back (south) to the intersection of Avenue Jean Janvier and Rue Saint Thomas and turn RIGHT (west) (our face to the south) onto Rue Saint-Thomas, 200 m. Turn right onto Rue du Capitaine Alfred Dreyfus, 160 m. Captain Alfred Dreyfus street connects Emile Zola quay to the north and Carmes street to the south. Alfred Dreyfus was victim, in 1894, of a miscarriage of justice which is at the origin of a major political crisis of the beginnings of the Third Republic, the Dreyfus scandal upset the French society during twelve years from 1894 to 1906. The scandal began in December 1894 with the treason conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian and Jewish descent. Sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, Dreyfus was imprisoned on Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years. Dreyfus was judged in Rennes, in the premises of the high school (today high school Émile Zola ) from August to September 1899. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice. Open letter published in a Paris newspaper in January 1898 by famed writer Émile Zola blamed the French society in an horrible injustice. In 1906 Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1935. Alfred Dreyfus was appointed Knight of the Legion of Honor on July 20, 1906, then promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor on July 9, 1919. We shall zig-zag, here, to get better vies of the Vilaine river in Rennes. Turn left onto Quai Emile Zola, 110 m. It bears the name of the French writer Émile Zola (see above), born in Paris on April 2 , 1840 and died in Paris on September 29 , 1902. This road is a quay of the Vilaine river stretching between the Place de la République (west)nand the Place de Joseph Loth . Located on the left (south) bank of the river, it faces the Chateaubriand wharf to its north side. The Parlement de Bretagne is not far from here (to our north-west) - but, we'll return to this building later. We walk 300 m. to our next destination - Jardin Saint Georges. Head east on Quai Emile Zola toward Rue Léonard de Vinci, 150 m. Turn left onto Place Pasteur, 85 m. Turn right onto Rue Kléber, 5 m. Turn left 55 m.and face Jardin & Palais Saint Georges. The Saint George Palace, 2 rue Gambetta (It is served by the Métro station République) 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 closed 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. It is situated in the Thabor-Saint Hélier quarter of Rennes. The building now houses the fire services for the city and other civil administrative offices. The front facade of the building consists of a long gallery of nineteen two-storey windows and paired nineteen granite arches. A landscaped formal garden, Jardin Saint-Georges, is situated in front of the building, with gravel paths leading to the main entrance. There are benches in the garden in front of the building where you can sit,to admire the garden. A heaven in the center of the town:
We continue walking NORTHWARD along Rue Gambetta - crossing Place de la Motte on our right. When we arrive to Place saint Melaine and see the church of Notre Dame St. Melaine on our right - we turn right to enter Parc du Thabor. Its name refers to a mountain overlooking Tiberias' lake in Israel , Mount Thabor. The main feature of Parc du Thabor is its mix of: a French garden , an English garden and a large botanical garden. Access to the park is through six entrances. It is served by lines C3 and 44 , stop Thabor; the nearest metro station is Sainte-Anne. The park is open all year. The park was, mainly, enhanced between 1866 and 1868 by the contributions of Denis Bühler by setting up various areas as: bowling , "hell", French gardens and English gardens . At the beginning of the 20th century, the southern part of the park, called "les Catherinettes", was built as an extension of the English garden. It reflects the idea of the time of a "school garden". You'll admire the considerable maintenance to meet the criteria of a highly structured garden with floral decoration elaborated and varied in the species used according to the seasons and and the expectations of regulars and tourists alike.
1)The square Du Guesclin .
2) Hell (the RED area) .
6) French gardens (the PINK area).
4+5+7) The botanical garden and the rose garden .
8) The landscaped garden of Denis Bühler (the LIGHT GREEN area).
2+3) The Catherinettes.
The entrance is marked by a monumental portal, bearing the arms of Rennes. It is a work of Jean-Baptiste Martenot which replaced the grid previously executed by Vincent Boullé, Rennes' municipal architect during the Restoration:
The first sight (from the west entrance) is the July column (La Colomne de Juillet) of the Du Guesclin square completely renovated, in 2014.
The Guesclin square is, actually, a trapezoidal lawn with a promenade bordered with chestnut trees:
The rest of the park includes an aviary, performance spaces, walking/running paths, formal gardens, recreational fields, a nicely-equipped children's playing park, greenhouses and specimen garden/nursery. Formal and informal lawns and flower-beds. Wonderful statues and fountains. Variety of trees from large sequoias to Ginko Bilobas. Huge rose garden (make a visit during the blooming season !). During a sunny weekends, it could be a bit BUSY. Better, visit it during weekdays. Loads of space to relax and wander around. One of the best parks in France:
A monument in tribute to the Breton poet Glenmor adorns the junction between the English garden, hell and the bowling greens. June 27 , 1998:
Dovecote - a structure intended to house pigeons or doves:
The park's gardens are built on many levels with water features: lakes, ponds, waterfalls and fountains:
Amazing flower-beds, fantastic colours, and huge variety of plants:
the Rose garden in the east side is stunning (come in June-July):
Le Jardin Botanique - Sibirian Iris:
We loved these innovations !!!:
We make the whole way back south to the Vilaine river - all in all 1 km. From Tabor Park or Place Saint-Melaine we head south, 190 m. Turn right toward Rue Martenot, 30 m. Turn left toward Rue Martenot, take the stairs, 45 m. Turn right onto Rue Martenot, 170 m. Continue onto Rue Victor Hugo, 130 m. Turn left onto Contour de la Motte, 10 m. Continue onto Rue Gambetta, 200 m (the Palais Saint George on your left) and continue onto Place Pasteur, 45 m. Arriving to the Vilaine river - turn RIGHT (west) onto Quai Châteaubriand. Walk 300 m. westward along Quai Châteaubriand (following the yellow sign of "Place Saint-Germain") and turn left at Rue Jean Jaurès, 35 m. Turn right onto Place de la République, 100 m.
Place de la République is a mighty square, served by the République metro station, the most central of the line, is a crossing point for many STAR bus lines, including lines that take a moment, either to the east or to the east. west, the quays of the Vilaine on both sides of the square. Its southern side consists mainly of the Palace of Commerce, being a gate between the northern part and the southern part of the city. It is bounded by the Lamartine Quay to the north and south by the Palais du Commerce, begun in 1890. Under the square, the Vilaine river flows. The creation of the rectangular square was undertaken by the cover of the Vilaine river in 1912 and 1913 under the leadership of Mayor Jean Janvier. A white stone wall surmounted by candelabrum lampposts with three branches surrounds the square. It's THE TRANSPORT HUB of Rennes when it comes to taking a bus. Overwhelmed by the local company Star's vehicles, the Place de la République will "lose" some of its lines in the years to come. The city wants to reduce bus traffic in the square in 25% - during the years to come:
We return walking northward, still moving from the east to the west. Our next destination is the town hall in Rennes. Head north and continue onto Rue d'Orléans, 90 m. Continue onto Place de la Mairie and the Hôtel de Ville at Place de la Mairie is on the left. The Opera is on the opposite side. The Town Hall itself is a nice building. There is a small chapel dedicated to those people from Rennes who have lost their lives in various wars that the French have fought in:
Head north on Place de la Mairie toward Rue de l'Hermine, 65 m. Turn left onto Rue de l'Hermine, 75 m. Continue onto Rue Duguesclin, 80 m. Turn left onto Place Saint-Sauveur, 15 m. Turn right onto Rue Saint-Sauveur (note: Basilique Saint-Sauveur, see photo below), 120 m.
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes is in front of you. The existing façade with its neoclassical granite towers in four stages was constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries. 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 building was badly damaged during World War II. On the imposing facade,you can admire the French weapons and the sun, the emblem of Louis XIV and symbols of royal power. Note: the Cathedral is closed between 12.00 and 15.00:
Pop in behind the cathedral (to the west of the church) into Rue des Portes Mordelaises - where you can see the Portes Mordelaises. A castle entrance gate with two towers, defended by a drawbridge and featuring two smaller gates for carriages and pedestrians, once led to Mordelles. This symbolic setting was where the future Dukes of Brittany swore an oath to defend Brittany's freedoms. The medieval walls to the west were built on the site of a third-century wall. An artillery platform was added on the fortified gateway (or barbican) to protect this entrance to Rennes. It was a nice surprise to see the old city entrances retained and so well preserved:
Portes Mordelaises - Half-timbered houses in Rue des Portes Mordelaises:
Head northwest on Rue des Portes Mordelaises toward Rue de Juillet, 55 m. Turn left onto Rue de Juillet, 25 m. Turn left onto Place du Bas des Lices, 30 m. Slight left to stay on Place du Bas des Lices and 15 m. further you see the Gout et Gourmandise restaurant, 5 Place du Bas des Lices, on your left. Divine crêpes and galettes, hot chocolate and hot soups. VERY friendly staff members. ost of the crêpe ARE GLUTEN FREE (as in most places in Bretagne / Brittany). Very authentic place to enjoy the culinary delights of Brittany:
We continue to Tour Douchesne. We take the Rue Nantaise with our face to the south. On our left we see the old walls and ramparts of Rennes with Tour Douchesne. Tour Duchesne is an old tower dating from the 15th century, it is located near the Mordelaises gates we've seen before. The tower derives its name from Jehan du Chesne, who was the first inhabitant of the tower, who was responsible for the opening and closing of the gates of the city. The tower is part of the original city walls, which date back to the 3rd century, but were rebuilt between 1447 and 1459. Today it is integrated into the Artillery Hotel:
We loved the promenades along the river in Rennes. So, we opted NOT for the shortest routes in our visit - BUT for the most romantic pieces of walk. Continue walking south along Rue Nantaise toward Place Maréchal Foch. Continue straight onto Place Maréchal Foch, 45 m. Turn right onto Mail François Mitterrand/Place Maréchal Foch and continue following Mail François Mitterrand for 90 m. Turn left (south) onto Quai d'Ille et Rance, 15 m. Turn left (east) onto Pont de Bretagne, 130 m.
Continue onto Quai Lamennais, 30 m. Turn left onto Place de Bretagne, 5 m. Turn right onto Quai Lamennais, 40 m. Slight left toward Quai Duguay Trouin for additional 40 m. Turn left toward Quai Duguay Trouin, 15 m. Turn right onto Quai Duguay Trouin, 20 m. Turn left (NORTH) onto Rue le Bouteiller, 50 m. Continue onto the narrow Rue Georges Dottin with your face to the north, 60 m. The Cathedral is on your left. Turn right (east) onto Rue du Chapitre and beyond 90 m. you see, on your left, the Hôtel de Blossac in 6 Rue du Chapitre. Now, office of the direction régionale des Affaires culturelles. The building, which has two main wings, was constructed in 1728. A fire in 1720 had destroyed much of the city of Rennes. The architect is said to have been Jacques Gabriel. The building has a unique classical architecture for Brittany, including its size, the assembly of several architectural components, and its grand staircase. It was private hôtel particulier for, approx., 50 years from 1947. FROM 1982 the apartments gave way to offices. It houses, now the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles (DRAC, Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs of Brittany) and the Territorial Service of architecture and heritage of Ille-et-Vilaine:
Note the houses and buildings in Rue du Chapitre: many of them are half-timbered and/or with sculptures. It starts with Café Babylone in the west and ends, in the east, with Rue de Montfort. This street was not attacked by the fire of 1720 and the buildings are, for the most part, of the 17th century. Note, at #3, the Hotel de Brie. You can also see, in the courtyard of the Escu de Runefaut hotel, at #5, a pretty wooden staircase with turned balusters. Note the house in #20:
In the middle of Rue du Chapitre, in the intersection with Rue de la Psalette (#1 Rue de la Psalette) - you see this house with small sculptures:
11-13 Rue du Chapitre - Eleven Art Gallery:
In the east end - turn left to Rue de Montfort. Attention, on your left, the Basilique Saint-Sauveur. Its foundation, under the name of Saint-Sauveur, predates the twelfth century. Extended several times and rebuilt in the early eighteenth century:
Turn right (east) to the impressive Rue Duguesclin (impressive and quaint road). In this part of the city, many inner courtyards remain invisible from the street. From Rue Duguesclin turn left (north) to Rue Chateaurenault. Continue north-east with Rue du Champ Jacquet. Here, you see the sculpture of Leperdit - Mayor of Rennes, 1794-5:
Return back (your face to the south) to Rue Chateaurenault. Turn LEFT (EAST) to Rue La fayette and continue walking along this road. It continues eastward as Rue Nationale. Walk until the eastern end of Rue Nationale and turn LEFT (north) to the narrow and atmospheric Rue Salomon de Brosse. Here, stands the famous Parliament of Brittany. The road bears the name of Salomon de Brosse (1571 - 1626) - the architect of Parlement de Bretagne (1617) (also architect of the Palace of Luxembourg in Paris). It has survived the ages untroubled. It was spared in the great fire of 1720, only to be partly burnt down in 1994. It now houses the Rennes Court of Appeal, the natural successor of the Parlement. Inside, the Parlement building boasts prestigious French-style ceilings, sculpted gilded wood panelling and allegorical paintings, culminating in the magnificent Grand Chambre, or main chamber. Prices: adult - € 7.20, concessions - € 4.60, 7-18 years - € 4.60 €. Parliament's opening hours change regularly. Visiting this building is NOT easy. You must contact the Tourist Information Office on 02 99 67 11 66 to arrange a conducted tour in advance.... Exact schedule / opening hours and admission payments - at the Rennes Tourism Office:
The Parlement de Bretagne is our last attraction in Rennes. We return to the new section of the city with our face to the south. Our final destination will be a marvelous shopping centre in Rennes. Full with restaurants, supermarkets and... the Museum of Brittany, Espace des sciences and le Théâtre National de Bretagne. Head south on Rue Salomon de Brosse toward Rue Nationale, 35 m. Turn left onto Place du Parlement de Bretagne, 70 m. Continue eastward onto Rue Victor Hugo, 160 m. Turn right (south) onto Contour de la Motte, 10 m. Continue southward onto Rue Gambetta, 200 m. Continue onto Place Pasteur, 90 m. We keep on walking southward. Continue onto Avenue Jean Janvier, 450 m. Turn RIGHT (west) onto Rue Albert Aubry, 80 m. You face the Museum of Brittany. Le Champs Libres is on your left, extending further west along Cours des Alliés. Metro: Charles de Gaulle. A WONDERFUL ATTRACTION. Ggreat spaces. Interesting new architecture. The Museum's Opening hours: TUE - FRI: School periods : 12.00 to 19.00, Half term holidays : 10.00 to 19.00, July & August : 13.00 to 19.00, SAT - SUN: 14.00 to 19.00. Closed: Mondays and bank holidays. The Museum of Brittany is, usually, closed during the first two weeks every SEP. FREE - first Sunday of every month. Prices: adult - 6 €, concessions (under 18 years old) - 4 €.
It is a 300 m. walk to the Railway Station. Walk east on Cours des Alliés toward Boulevard Magenta. Turn right onto Boulevard Magenta, 190 m. Turn left onto Avenue Jean Janvier and Place de la Gare and the station is on the right.