SYMBOLS Stories of cultural life.

City of Rennes

The vibrant university city of Rennes, Brittany's administrative capitak, is worth a day or two of anyone's time.

Take a wander around the medieval sreets of the picture-perfect old town and admire the impressive parliament building before relaxing in the Thabor gardens.

Quaint quarter

Most of old Rennes was burnt down in 1720 when a fire ravaged the city, however some authentic pockets remain; the Streets around Saint-Anne are lined with higgledy-piggledy half-timbered houses. place des Lices was originally used for jousting but these days the only combat you'll experience is elbowing your way through the crowds at the mignificent Saturday-morning market, one the France's largest. Nearby are the remains of the 15th-century Porte Mordelaise, once the main gate into the city

A fine building

One of Brittany's finest buildings can be found east of the old town - the Palais du Parlement de Bretagne, the parliament building, which was designed by the architect of the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris, was constructed from 1618-55 to house the Breton parliament following the region's reunification with France. These days the palace houses the Cour of Appeal ; there are often temporary exhibitions and concerts in the lobby. Take a guided tour in English in July or August to see the wonderful restoration work that was carried out after a devastating fire in 1994.

Go Green

To the east of the old town are the Thabor Gardens, which were created in the 1860's on the site of the orchard of St Melaine abbey. The public gardens are laid out over 24 acres and include a French garden, an English garden, lawns, an aviary, a children's area and a noted botanical garden, which has around 3.000 species of plant. The gardens regularly host ourdoor events in summer.

It's history

No trip in Rennes would be complete without visiting one of its museum. The Musée de Bretagne, housed in the futuristic Champs Libres building near the station, recounts Brittany's history and culture from prehistoric times - you can even listen to Breton being spoken.

European Cemeteries Route