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Walking through the historic streets of Rennes is like stepping back in time. Shops and restaurants have often replaced what were homes and workshops but the architecture still shines through. In fact, the city’s half-timbered houses are among its most distinctive features. These buildings were popular throughout the Middle Ages and the 18th century with variations in style and design.
The 17th-century Parliament of Brittany building (Parlement de Bretagne in Breton) is one of the most famous buildings to visit in Rennes. Designed by architect Georges Maillols, this phenomenal building looks rather plain from the outside but is an architectural marvel inside. These days the building houses Rennes’ Court of Appeal.
The bright red house known as the Ti-Coz (old house in Breton) is another must-see. Built over shale in the first quarter of the 16th century, it has two houses within a single structure and illustrates the social ranking of the early residents with different levels of stairs for each level of the dwelling.
Rennes’ Cathedral is a beautiful sight and is surrounded by medieval buildings that should not be missed. Take the time to explore the streets that hide behind it to see more stunning architecture. For example, the 15th-century Portes Mordelaises were once the main gates into the city and are worth a short detour.
You can get to Rennes by train, bus, or car. Its airport has flights to several European cities but you’ll probably find the best deals on Skyscanner for a flight to Paris. From there, trains to Rennes are frequent and affordable. The journey takes between 90 and 120 minutes.