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Rennes, the capital of Brittany since 1522, is a modern town which has been virtually rebuilt after a fire destroyed most of the city. There still remain some vestiges of 18th century architecture around the public squares and it’s worth taking a stroll around town to see some of the quaint half-timbered houses.
The medieval quarter, which survived the fire, borders the canal to the west and the river to the south and is the home of the old ceremonial entrance to the city. Another edifice to escape the city’s conflagration is the Palais de Justice, whose collection of recently sculptured statues is an eye opener.
Walk south from the palace and you’ll reach the river Vilaine, which runs right through Rennes and seems perpetually busy down on the banks. The Musee des Beaux Artes sits on the banks in a former university building and houses paintings by some of France’s great Impressionists.
There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink in Rennes. Rues St-Michel and Penhoët are alive with alternative restaurants offering a multitude of dishes. For live music and trendy young students, head to Barantic, 4 rue St-Michel, one of the city's notorious hang-outs.
The ideal time to be in Rennes is the first ten days of July, when the Festival des Tombees de la Nuit is celebrated with a varied selection of music, theatre, film and mime, all mirroring traditional Breton culture. In December, Rennes hosts the rock festival ‘ Transmusicales’.
Rennes Airport, located just 10 minutes from the town centre, is easily accessed. You can take a bus from bus stop République or place de la Mairie in the town centre right to the airport. Alternatively, you can take a taxi. Rennes can also be accessed by rail and car.