Rennes (pronounced wren) is the capital of and traditional gateway to this region. It’s also one of Brittany’s liveliest cities, thanks to the 40,000-odd students who set a youthful tone during the school year. Place Ste-Anne, where bars and cafés are housed in medieval buildings with character to spare, is particularly packed. Although summer seems to happen elsewhere for most Rennais, it is still a pleasant time for
visitors. United with the Kingdom of France in 1532, Rennes has long been the political center of Brittany, and its stature is reflected in grand public edifices—many of them erected after fire swept through the city in 1720. The remaining cobbled streets and 15th-century half-timber houses form an interesting contrast to the classical feel of the cathedral and Jacques Gabriel's disciplined 18th-century granite buildings, broad avenues, and spacious squares.