Brittany’s capital city is a charming university town just 2 hours from Paris by TGV. There’s much to recommend it as a short break destination, from cobbled streets of beautiful half-timbered houses to art-deco buildings covered in glistening mosaic tiles, a huge Saturday market that spans several streets and covered halls, and food ranging from the best of modern French to traditional regional specialties and excellent patisserie. Check out my regional guide to Brittany to discover of this unique region.
Stay Marnie & Mister H
This 16th-century half-timbered house in a narrow, cobbled street is one of the few to survive the devastating fire of 1720. Ancient, uneven stairs lead to small comfortable rooms opening onto a sunny rooftop terrace – the perfect spot to relax and contemplate walls built when Shakespeare was writing!
Eat & Drink Ima
A seat at the counter around Ima’s open kitchen is the best way to fully appreciate the delicate dance that chef Julien Lemarié and his brigade do to deliver beautiful plates of seasonal produce prepared with a light touch and slight Japanese influence. Great list of natural wines too.
Patisserie Le Daniel
This is the one-stop-shop for traditional Breton sweets (such as buttery, flakey kouign-amann), delicious macarons, handmade chocolates (in shapes from geisha girls to fish) and colourful tortes and desserts. Come for a look and try to resist leaving without a Magnum-like ‘esquimaux’!
Shop Marché des Lices
France’s second largest food market is held on Rennes’ Place des Lices every Saturday. Mix with locals buying seasonal fruit and veg, seafood, meat, cheese, charcuterie, huge wheels of bread and other baked goods. Queue for the locals’ favourite snack of sausages wrapped in thin crisp buckwheat crepes.
See Odorico Mosaics
Italian mosaic specialists arrived in Paris in the 1870s to work on the Palais Garnier. Some later settled in other parts of France, including the Odorico family in Rennes, which became the centre of French mosaic production. Many art-deco public buildings still sparkle with this colourful artform.
And if you’d like a very knowledgeable tour guide to share his passion for his hometown and region, contact Lionel Besnard at email@example.com