Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.
Rennes's history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small gallic village named Condate. Together with Vannes and Nantes, it was one of the major cities of the historic province of Brittany and the ancient Duchy of Brittany. After the French Revolution, Rennes remained for most of its history a parliamentary, administrative and garrison city of the kingdom of France.
Since the 50's, Rennes grew in importance through rural flight and its modern industrial development (automotive). The city developed extensive building plans to accommodate upwards of 200,000 inhabitants. During the 80's, Rennes became one of the main centres in high technology industry. It is now a significant digital innovation centre in France.
In 2015, the city is the tenth largest in France, with a metropolitan area of about 700,000 inhabitants. With more than 63,000 students in 2013, is also the eighth-largest university campus of France. The inhabitants of Rennes are called Rennais, Rennaise in French.
In 2012, l'Express named Rennes as "the most liveable city in France".
During the Second World War Rennes suffered heavy damage both by German and Allied attacks. 1000 died in just one German raid on an ammunition store. Since the war it been substantially rebuilt whilst preserving the older parts of the City.
Rennes is a fine city for shopping with stores like Galleries LaFayette and just out of the city IKEA.
The historical parts of the City include the magnificent Parlement building which was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1994. The cause of the fire is thought to have been a flare fired by a protester during a demonstration. Rennes is an ideal place for protests and demonstrations with its several open squares which hold thousands.
The Annual Gay Pride festival is held in the centre of Rennes in June with the numbers being boosted by its student population. It is a happy and friendly parade which is noisy and colourful. Well worth watching or taking part.
The Opera House and Saint Georges Palace are incredibly beautiful
Each Saturday morning there is a market in the Place des Lices. An extensive fruit and vegetable market with fish, meat and flowers.
Also visit the remains of the ramparts built between the 3rd and 12th centuries.
Place Saint-Anne is an interesting area with the former 14C hospital, Saint Aubin Church and a Jacobite convent.
Rennes is on the main railway line to Paris which from 2017 will be reached in 90 minutes by fast TGV. Although the line to Redon is not yet being improved there will be services to Paris from Redon in 2hrs 5mins. Rennes has an excellent public transport system complete with its own Metro. Only one line at the moment but another under construciton which will add another 15 stations.
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