Rennes Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Rennes

The capital of Brittany in the northwest of France, Rennes is renowned for its medieval half-timbered architecture and grand Rennes Cathedral. The local Parc du Thabor features a rose garden and aviary, while the local Museum of Fine Arts, situated on the southern bank of the Vilaine river, displays collection of Botticelli, Rubens and Picasso works. The Champs Libres cultural center is a home to the Brittany Museum. These and other major attractions of Rennes await you on this orientation walk.
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Rennes Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Rennes Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Rennes (See other walking tours in Rennes)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: DanaU
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Parlement of Brittany
  • Rennes Cathedral
  • Saint-Yves Chapel
  • Hôtel de Blossac
  • Church of St. Sauveur
  • Rennes City Hall
  • Palace of Commerce
  • Museum of Brittany
  • Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes
  • Saint George Palace
  • Saint-Germain Church
  • Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine
  • Parc du Thabor
Parlement of Brittany

1) Parlement of Brittany (must see)

The Parlement of Brittany was a court of justice, under France’s Ancien Régime, with its seat at Rennes. Plans were drawn by the city architect, German Gaultier and reviewed by Salomon of Brush (designer of the facades). Built in a restrained style, the parliament of Brittany decided to site the palace in the heart of the city of Rennes, where the parliamentary representatives have sat ever since 1655. The building has been recently restored, following severe fire damage on February 5, 1994, a consequence linked to the violent demonstrations of the local fishermen. Adapted to the requirements of the 21st century, the Court of Appeal of Rennes was able to resume the activities of the previous centuries. Other, newer buildings in the city are home to the various forms of justice.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rennes Cathedral

2) Rennes Cathedral (must see)

Rennes Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, located in the town of Rennes. It is a historic monument since 1906. It is the seat of the Archbishops of Rennes, previously Bishops of Rennes. The site has been used for a cathedral more or less from the beginnings of the see in the 6th century. The earliest building was completely replaced by a Gothic cathedral in the 12th century, of which in 1490 the tower and the entire west front collapsed. The existing façade with its neoclassical granite towers in four stages was constructed over the next two centuries or so, with long gaps between the different stages: the lowest level was built between 1541 and 1543, the second from 1640 to 1654 (by Tugal Caris), and the fourth (by Pierre Corbineau) from 1654 to 1678. Yet another architect, François Hoguet, completed the towers, between 1679 and 1704, at their present height of 48 metres and added the device of Louis XVI between them.

The nave and choir however had not been restored. During vespers on 11 February 1754 a great stone fell from the roof of the choir, and it was decided, before the entire body of the cathedral collapsed, to demolish all these parts and rebuild them. The demolition was carried out between 1756 and 1768, leaving only the towers and west front standing. 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 original decoration was in a plain neo-classical style, but during the 19th century it was extensively refurbished with gilt, stucco and paintings (inspired by those in the Parliament of Rennes) to create a more sumptuous appearance. Characteristic of this cathedral is the contrast between the rich decoration, including, in front of the altar, slabs of rare marble from the Roman Forum, a gift from Pope Pius IX, and the sombre granite of the structure.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint-Yves Chapel

3) Saint-Yves Chapel

Located on the corner of Rue Saint-Yves and Rue Le-Bouteiller, Saint-Yves is an old chapel, formerly dedicated to Roman Catholic worship. In 1358, Eudon Le Bouteiller decided to transform his mansion into a hospice dedicated to the holy Virgin and later to Saint Yves. The present chapel was built in 1494 on the site of the old construction.

Since 1945, Saint-Yves Chapel is considered a historic monument. In 1981, it was restored and refurbished to house the office of tourism for the town on Rennes. Its main façade features an impressive arched entrance door, surmounted by three niches. The facade facing the Rue Saint-Yves has four windows, one of which is huge, and a door surmounted by niches as well. The chapel itself is composed of a rectangular nave, which has a vault embellished by engravings dating from the 15th century.
Hôtel de Blossac

4) Hôtel de Blossac

The Hôtel de Blossac is an 18th century hôtel particulier in the historic center of Rennes, Brittany. Made of two main wings, the building was built in 1728, after the 1720 Rennes city fire, supposedly on a drawing by Jacques Gabriel. It has a unique classical architecture in Brittany, including its size, the size of its frame, the assembly of several architectural buildings and grand staircase.

Protected under the historic monuments in 1947, it undergoes a complete exterior restoration spread over three decades while the apartments give way to office. It is wholly owned by the state since 1982 and houses, in rooms refurbished and restored, the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles (DRAC, Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs of Brittany) and in service quarters, the service territorial de l’architecture et du patrimoine (Territorial Service of architecture and heritage of Ille-et-Vilaine).

Hôtel de Blossac is divided into two parts: the side yard on the north and the garden side yard on the south. The side garden has a perron and an elaborate facade, while the courtyard side is more austere, but contains, in the south, the grand staircase. Facing the courtyard are the old stables, with perpendicular, the gallery overlooking the garden. As the hotel is a public building, it is possible, during office hours, visiting the external (courtyard and garden) and the staircase, including access to the documentation library. Those outside are usually open to the European Heritage Days.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of St. Sauveur

5) Church of St. Sauveur (must see)

Located in the heart of the historic city center of Rennes, Church of St. Sauveur is a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles and Virtues. It is said that many miracles have happened within this church. The original construction was in Gothic style, but after its collapse in 1682, it was rebuilt in classical style in 1703. The basilica is particularly noted for its stunning altar canopy, wrought iron pulpit and it's organ. The exterior design of the building recalls, to a lesser extent, that of the Church of the Gesu in Rome or the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in Paris. The basilica consists of a nave with two aisles, a narrow transept, a choir, and an apse with blunt angles, without ambulatory or aisle.
Rennes City Hall

6) Rennes City Hall

Rennes City Hall was built after the 1720 Great Fire of Rennes, between 1734 and 1743 by Jacques V. Gabriel, while Toussaint-François Rallier du Baty was mayor. In the center of the building, under the clock tower, there is a niche which originally housed a statue of Louis XV. The statue was however destroyed during the revolution and was replaced by a group of sculptures, the work of Jean Boucher, representing the Union of Brittany and France with Anne of Brittany kneeling before a female figure.
Palace of Commerce

7) Palace of Commerce

The Palace of Commerce is located in the Square of the Republic and is another must see architectural masterpiece. Known as the “Palace of Post”, it is a former stock exchange and currently a post office. It was built from 1885 to 1929 by the architects Jean-Baptiste Martenot and Emmanuel Le Ray, and decorated with a mosaic by Isidore Odorico. The construction was carried out in two phases, due to a fire in 1911. The building hosted the Regional School of Fine Arts and the National Conservatory of Music.
Museum of Brittany

8) Museum of Brittany (must see)

Located at Cours des Alliés, the Museum of Brittany is a real treasure trove for those who want to get a broader understanding of Brittany. It hosts three permanent exhibitions focused on the region, its history and its people. The first exhibition features audio-visual material about Brittany in general; the second one takes us back in time and walks us through the history of Brittany; and the last exhibition presents Captain Dreyfus, who was accused of spying for Germany. The Museum of Brittany also holds 2 temporary exhibitions.

Operation hours: Tuesday-Friday 12:00 pm- 7:00 pm; Saturday,Sunday 2:00 pm- 7:00 pm.
Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes

9) Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes (must see)

The Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes is a municipal museum whose collections range from ancient Egypt antiquities to the Modern art period and make the museum one of the most important in France outside Paris, notably for its paintings and drawings holdings.

The museum was established in 1794 during the French Revolution like most of the main French museums. Its first collections were the confiscated artworks of the churches and public buildings of Rennes. However the majority of the present holdings come from the private collection of Christophe-Paul de Robien, a president of the Parlement de Bretagne, which was at the time of the Revolution one of the largest of its kind in Europe. It comprised drawings, prints, paintings, antiques and sculptures. The museum's collections continued to expand during the 19th and the 20th century thanks to donations and acquisitions. The building housing the museum was built between in 1847 and 1855 but it is only since 1911 that it is entirely devoted to the museum's collections. The building and the exposition rooms have been restored and modified several times.

The painting collection include artworks created between the 14th century to the 20th century. The drawings holdings are one of the treasures of the museum as they include very valuable pieces and rare names, mainly thanks to the Robien collection.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint George Palace

10) Saint George Palace (must see)

The Saint George Palace is an historic building in the city of Rennes. Formerly an abbey residence, it was built in 1670 to replace a much older abbey building that stood on the same site. The central feature of the building is its long gallery of nineteen two-storey windows and paired nineteen granite arches. The gallery is accessed by a large double staircase with substantial stone balustrade. At either end of the main gallery section are two pavilions in the same style. The mansard roof features twenty-three dormer windows and above the three central windows is a large semi-circular pediment surmounted by a stone cross. The pediment is sculpted with the arms of the abbey, flanked by figures of justice and peace. The coat of arms of the abbess Magdelaine de la Fayette is present in relief on both end pavilions and in the centre of the building between the second- and third-storey windows Her name is featured in the form of iron bars shaped as letters, bolted to the façade, and spaced evenly above the pier of each arch, as MAGDELAINEDLFAYETTE, with the double T joined above one pier. A landscaped formal garden, Jardin Saint-Georges, is situated in front of the building, with gravel paths leading to the main entrance.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint-Germain Church

11) Saint-Germain Church (must see)

Saint-Germain Church is a Gothic parish church, located at Rue de Vau Saint-Germain in Rennes. It was built between the 15th and the 17th century, and features the oldest stained glass in Rennes, as well as antique organs. The most spectacular part of the exterior of the church is the south porch, which dates back to the Late Renaissance (1606-1623). It is the work of Germain Gaultier, the first architect of the Parliament of Brittany.

12) Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine (must see)

Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine is a French abbey church that served as cathedral during the first half of the 19th century. Between 1803 and 1844, the cathedral of Saint-Pierre de Rennes, demolished in the late 18th century and not yet rebuilt, could no longer be used neither as cathedral nor as sanctuary. Étienne Célestin Enoch, the bishop of Rennes, decided to use the church of Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine as temporary seat of the diocese, which thus became the pro-cathedral. The sanctuary of the church is dedicated to St. Melaine, traditionally regarded as the first bishop of Rennes, who died here in the sixth century. The present building dates from the 17th century and was built in the form of the Latin Cross.
Parc du Thabor

13) Parc du Thabor

Park located in Rennes near the city center, is a public park laid out on more than ten hectares whose particularity is to mix a French garden, an English garden and an important botanical garden. Its name refers to a mountain overlooking Lake Tiberias in Israel, Mount Tabor.

The park of Thabor is classified Prestigious garden of type 1 by the city of Rennes, it benefits from a considerable maintenance to satisfy the criteria of a very structured garden with the elaborate and varied floral decoration in the essences used according to the seasons and Thus the expectations of both regulars and tourists.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Rennes, France

Create Your Own Walk in Rennes

Create Your Own Walk in Rennes

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rennes is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Architecture Jewels

Architecture Jewels

Rennes is known as a city of art and history, it has plenty to offer its visitors. Among which, a number of beautiful historic monuments. Most of the city's “monuments historiques" can also be found within the historic city center and can be covered in a single tour. Take this tour to the most fabulous buildings in the city of Rennes.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Historical Churches

Historical Churches

Rennes is a city rich with religious heritage and has plenty to offer for the religious oriented traveler. Among the most important religious sights, you will find the Rennes Cathedral, Saint-Yves Chapel, Jacobite Convent, and many more places of worship. Take this walking tour to see the best religious places Rennes can offer.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Museums and Art Galleries Walk

Museums and Art Galleries Walk

The city of Rennes invests heavily in art and culture, it features numerous museums and art galleries that are well worth visiting. If you consider yourself an admirer of art, take this self-guided walking tour and admire the city's art side.The city of Rennes invests heavily in art and culture, it features numerous museums and art galleries that are well worth visiting. If you consider...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles