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Notre dame de Saint Melanie| ©Pline/Wikicommons
Notre dame de Saint Melanie| ©Pline/Wikicommons

Top 10 Things To Do And See In The Historic Quarter Of Rennes, France

Picture of Alex Locker
Updated: 9 February 2017
Located in the north-west of France and capital of the region of Brittany, Rennes is a true reflection of French elegance whilst it shines with its own unique regional spirit. Contained within the city’s walls, the historic quarter provides an eclectic mixture of culture and entertainment. Here we look at the 10 best things to do and see in the area.

Church Notre-dame-en-Saint-Melanie

Although little remains of the original church Notre-dame-en-Saint-Melanie, the abbot’s palace gives testament to this Romanesque architectural marvel. The cloister stills shows some of the most spectacular and elaborate decorations in Rennes’ architecture, and visitors will also be able to see tombstones, statues and stained glass windows from the 19th century.

Place Saint-Mélaine, Rennes, France

Parc de Thabor

Previously belonging to the guardianship of the Notre-dame-en-Saint-Melanie, until the French Revolution, the Parc de Thabor is a botanical paradise surrounded by beautiful architecture. The park is named after the Mount Tabor in Gailee, Israel, believed by Christians to be the site of the transfiguration of Christ. As you stroll around the park, you’ll find a bandstand, orangery, and aviary.

Place Saint-Mélaine, Rennes, France

Chapelle Saint Yves – Office of Tourism

The site of the Office of Tourism for Rennes is a testament to the history that runs through the veins of the city whilst functioning as an information office. The Chapelle Saint Yves, dating from the 14th century, which originally functioned as a Catholic chapel and over the course of the years has served as a mansion and a hospice, was restored and adapted in 1981 to house the city’s Office of Tourism. Therefore you’ll be visiting a beautiful sight at the same time that you get some information for your trip.

11 Rue Saint-Yves, Rennes, France

Place du Champ-Jacquet

One of the many squares in the heart of Rennes’ historic quarter, Place du Champ-Jacquet is home to a few buildings that resemble the architectural crown of Brittany through their magnificent display of chapelle and maison styles harking back to medieval Brittany. Facing a 19th-century revolutionary sculpture of Jean Leperdit, this example of French magnificence is a must-see if you’re walking around the streets of the old town.

Place Saint-Anne

Whilst Rennes is known for the beauty of its architectural piazzas, St Anne’s square has more recently become home to a display of new artistic expressions. Bordered by the church of St Aubin, the square features a great variety of street art that is ever-multiplying. These creative expressions have brought a breath of new life to the historic streets, showing Rennes’ role as a center for young creativity, which stands in beautiful contrast to its better-known historical essence.

Place Sainte-Anne, Rennes, France

Duchesne Tower

Integrated in Rennes’ old town’s historic wall and dating from the 15th century, the Duchesne Tower appears somewhat detached from the beauty and fragility of the architectural marvels held within the city’s walls. The battlements provide no less of a captivating sight, with origins dating back to the 3rd century and having been rebuilt in the 15th century. The tower provides some of the best panoramic views in the whole of Rennes.

Porte Mordelaise

Brimming with historical and political heritage, having throughout history guarded Rennes against the invading English, the 15th century gate, Porte Mordelaise, stands as the daunting entranceway for all tourists wishing to explore the treasures that Rennes keeps within its old walls. The gatehouse deserves no less attention than the attractions within the walls and stamds as a beacon of Rennes’ historical prowess.

Rue des Portes Mordelaises, Rennes, France

Rue Saint-Guillaume – House of Du Guesclin

The du Guesclin family is known to be one of the most influential families in French history, having fought against the English. The Maison du Guesclin is an enthralling medieval attraction, following the lives of the du Guesclin family and displaying reconstructions of their chambers and general living conditions, as well as a vast variety of family heirlooms and weaponry.

Maison des Carmes

Well positioned for tourists and a central feature of one of Rennes oldest streets, the Maison des Carmes is the old site of the Carmelite convent, with some of the surrounding structures having been destroyed during the French revolution. This house features a wooden double semi-circular outdoor staircase that can be seen from Vasselot Street below. The street itself has now been pedestrianized and serves as one of the main shopping areas in Rennes’ old quarter.

34 rue Vasselot, Rennes, France

L’ Instant Creperie

Located on the edge of the old town, L’ instant Creperie is the perfect place to stop for a snack during your tour of the city. Serving a selection of both sweet and savoury crepes, here you can also try the galettes. A staple in the cuisine of Brittany, a galette is a kind of crepe made with buckwheat flour, darker and thicker than the traditional crepes, usually complemented by savory toppings and traditionally accompanied by a glass of cider.

31 Rue Saint-Georges, 35000 Rennes, France