Rennes, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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RENNES
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Rennes is a city of northwestern France, in the east of Brittany. Rennes is the capital of the Bretagne région, as well as the préfecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine département. Population of the city (commune) of Rennes at the 1999 census was 206,229 inhabitants (209,100 inhabitants as of February 2004 estimates). Population of the whole metropolitan area at the 1999 census was 521,188 inhabitants, and 588,684 inhabitants as of 2007 estimate. Inhabitants of Rennes are called Rennais. read full wikipedia reference about Rennes, France

For a city that has been the capital and power centre of Brittany since the 1532 union with France, Rennes is - outwardly at least - uncharacteristic of the province, with its Neoclassical layout and pompous major buildings. What potential it had to be a picturesque tourist spot was destroyed in 1720, when a drunken carpenter managed to set light to virtually the whole city. Only the area known as Les Lices , at the junction of the canalized Ille and the River Vilaine, was undamaged. The remodelling of the rest of the city was handed over to Parisian architects, not in deference to the capital but in an attempt to rival it. The result, on the north side of the river at any rate, is something of a patchwork quilt, consisting of grand eighteenth-century public squares interspersed with intimate little alleys of half-timbered houses.

Rennes' surviving medieval quarter , bordered by the canal to the west and the river to the south, radiates from Porte Mordelaise , the old ceremonial entrance to the city. Just to the northeast of the porte, the place des Lices , nowadays dominated by two empty market halls, was originally the venue for tournaments - that is, jousting "lists". It was here, in 1337, that the hitherto unknown Bertrand du Guesclin, then aged 17, fought and defeated several older opponents. This set him on his career as a soldier, during which he was to save Rennes when it was under siege by the English. However, after the Bretons were defeated at Auray in 1364, he fought for the French, and twice invaded Brittany.

The one central building to escape the 1720 fire was the Palais de Justice on rue Hoche downtown. Ironically, however, the Palais was all but ruined by a major conflagration in 1994; the exact circumstances remain somewhat mysterious, but it's thought the blaze was sparked by a stray flare set off during a demonstration by Breton fishermen. Since then, the entire structure has been rebuilt and restored, and is once more topped by an impressive array of gleaming gilded statues.

If you head south from the Palais de Justice, you'll soon reach the River Vilaine , which flows through the centre of Rennes, narrowly confined into a steep-sided channel. The south bank of the river is every bit as busy, if not busier, than the north, and at 20 quai Émile-Zola on the south bank a former university building houses the city's Musée des Beaux Arts (daily except Tues 10am-noon & 2-6pm). Unfortunately many of its finest artworks - which include drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Fra Lippo Lippi and Dürer - are not usually on public display. Instead you'll find a number of indifferent Impressionist views of Normandy by the likes of Boudin and Sisley, interspersed with the occasional treasure such as Pieter Boel's startlingly contemporary-looking seventeenth-century animal studies, Veronese's depiction of a flying Perseus Rescuing Andromeda , and Pierre-Paul Rubens' Tiger Hunt , enlivened by the occasional lion. The same building was long home also to the Musée de Bretagne, covering the history and culture of Brittany, which has been closed for several years while its exhibits are moved to a new, high-tech museum, due to open on a separate site in 2003.

Heading south away from the river, rue Vasselot has its own array of half-timbered old houses, while the giant Colombier Centre , just west of the gare SNCF , is Rennes at its most modern. It is a vast mall packed with shops of all kinds, plus cafés and snack bars, and featuring an amazing crystal model of itself in its main entrance hall.

  

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