Capital of the Ille-et-Vilaine department and of the region of Brittany, Rennes is located 55km south of the English Channel. With 213,000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in Brittany, and the 11th most populous in France. Known as Condate in Gallo-Roman times, it was badly damaged by a major fire in 1720, one which ravaged the mainly wooden houses in the medieval town centre; these were later rebuilt in stone. Predominantly rural until the second half of the 20th century, Rennes underwent rapid growth, first through industrialisation and then by its decision to specialise in telecommunications and new technologies.
An authentic student town, Rennes has maintained a significant medieval and classical heritage. In the historic centre, the Portes Mordelaises – a castle entrance gate which formed part of the town’s old fortifications – loom large. Among the 90 buildings classified as “historic monuments”, tourists can admire the Duchesne Tower, the Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine church, the Place du Parlement-de-Bretagne, and the numerous impressive facades of buildings in the Old Town. It is no wonder that in 2012 Rennes was named the “most liveable city in France” by L'Express magazine.
Football Stade Rennais FC, founded in 1901 and a professional outfit since 1932, have not yet had the pleasure of claiming the Ligue 1 title, but they did enjoy French Cup success in 1965 and 1971 – the only pieces of silverware in their trophy cabinet.