Outside terraces, the best place to hang out in rennes
With its 163 bars and almost as many outside terraces, there will always be somewhere to sit and have a drink in the sun in Rennes! Be it Place Sainte-Anne, Rue Rallier du Baty, Place du Champ-Jacquet, Rue Vasselot, Rue Jules Simon, Place des Lices or Rue Saint Michel, the entire city centre and Saint-Michel area are packed with tables and chairs where you can bask in the sun. Bars and restaurants are available for a coffee, a bite to eat or a pre-dinner drink (with moderation, of course). Rennes’ relaxed way of life will no doubt lead you to one of these terraces at some stage throughout the day.
Everyone has their favourites and personal habits, depending on the time of day. Students are rarely the only ones to take a seat outside after their classes. For Rennes’ inhabitants, outside terraces are practically a home away from home: the perfect place to meet up, a second “office” or just somewhere to sit and relax away from home. Depending on the time of day, Rennes’ terraces have a thousand and one lives and just as many functions. Here are a few particularly pleasant ones, to be tried out during a weekend or stay here in Brittany’s capital. Added bonus: the best time for sunshine for each spot. So you can map out your progress throughout the day, according to the sun…
1. Getting in touch with nature at the Thabor park cafe
When visiting Rennes, the Thabor gardens are a must-see of Brittany’s capital. This nature-filled setting also has a little outside terrace to have a drink, a coffee, lunch, enjoy the traditional “market menu” on a Saturdays or a brunch on Sundays. Its name? La Terrasse, quite simply. With its 300 seats, it is one of the largest in town, facing South and therefore in the full sun all day. The tall trees offer a few pleasantly shaded spots, where you can gaze out on the stunning flower gardens and music pavilion. Located at the northern entrance, just next to the orange grove, La Terrasse is a chic yet relaxed café where you can have lunch or a cup of tea in a quiet setting.
- La terrasse du Thabor, 2, rue de la Palestine. Sunny all day long, from 10am until sunset.
2. Drop anchor at the Café du port
Just opposite the Saint-Yves chapel and its magnificent sculpted façade, at a crossroads between little cobbled streets in the old city centre, drop anchor at the Café du Port. Delicious bistrot cuisine to fill your plates and a wide selection of wines to fill your glasses. Similarly to the neighbouring Oan’s Pub terrace, it is a great place to sit and have a drink after a stroll through Rennes’ old streets. You can easily move on to one of the many nearby restaurants, such as the Saint-Sauveur – located in the street with the same name – or the Baron Rouge in the Rue du Chapitre.
- Café du port, 3, rue Le Bouteiller
3. Have a game of palet and bask in the sun at the Gazoline
Located right at the bottom of the Place des Lices – always very lively in the evenings with its busy terraces – the Gazoline is a fun choice. Shaded by the trees in a small square, why not have a typically Breton game of Palet? The bar will lend you all the equipment you need, and the locals will be delighted to explain the rules. The Gazoline’s terrace is also perfectly located to catch the last few rays of sun during long summer nights. With games of palet being played in the background, Rennes’ typical lifestyle shines through perfectly here.
- The Gazoline, 24 rue Nantaise, sunny from 1pm to 7pm
4. For pre-dinner drinks or the lices market, head to the Delirium Café
The Delirium Café is a huge pub, with screens everywhere to watch your favourite sporting events… The terrace is also enormous (300 seats) and perfectly located. With the Place des Lices and Halles Martenot as a backdrop, this is as central as you can get. On Saturday mornings, the pub is full as it is so close to the Lices market. This is the perfect place for basking in the sun all day long. Remember to put some sun cream on, the sun in Brittany can get quite strong!
- Delirium Café, 15 place des Lices sunny from 10am to 9pm
5. Enjoy some shade at the Vieux Saint-Etienne
In the shade of the chestnut trees, in the square in front of the Vieux-Saint-Etienne Theatre – one of Rennes’ legendary cultural spots – several cafés share their terraces in this peaceful, shaded and sheltered area: the Papier Timbré, the Copain Copine tea room and restaurant, and the Vieux-Saint-Etienne. It feels like you have left the hustle and bustle of the city centre, even though it is only a few hundred metres away. At lunch time, it feels like you have travelled down to Provence, with people playing pétanque or palet. If you are looking for a peaceful place where you can hear the birds sing, this is it. This is the ideal place if the weather gets too hot during the summer.
- Vieux Saint-Etienne, Papier timbré and Copain copine, rue de Dinan. Sunny from 11am and 1pm
6. Straw hats at the Mabilay
The Mabilay coffee shop and restaurant boasts the largest terrace in town in terms of surface area. Indeed, it has a 2,000 m² green area overlooking the Vilaine river, at the foot of the high-rise Mabilais building with its famous totem tower and rooftop saucer. A high-tech place where the Minitel was invented and where Rennes’ French Tech currently works. The Mabilay terrace is on the ground floor of this recently renovated 70’s office block, and holds extremely popular after-work evenings on Thursdays, with different DJs every week. A very different atmosphere to the city centre…try it out if you want to meet the city’s geeks and hip workers. Their little extra to avoid getting sunburnt at lunch: they give out straw hats…
- The Mabilay, 2, rue de la Mabilais. Sunny in the morning and until 3pm.
7. Take a seat at the Champs Libres after touring the museum
Before or after visiting the Musée de Bretagne at the Science Centre, take a break at the Café des Champs Libres, located in the building designed by Christian de Portzamparc. Its huge 200 m² wooden terrace faces West and is a great place to quench your thirst. To the left, you can gaze upon an astounding semi-detached red house built in 1900 by the Berthelot brothers. To the right, when you go down the stairs, you will end up in the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. Just a few steps away from the train station and metro line, you can also have lunch there. Their little extra: loungers and sofas are available to relax in.
- The Café des Champs Libres, 10 cours des Alliés. Sunny from 12pm to 7pm
8. A view of the cathedral at Bistrot Cocagne
At the end of the Rue des Dames, the Bistrot Cocagne’s terrace looks out onto Saint-Pierre Cathedral. The terrace is pleasant at any time of the day, for a drink or lunch. On the one side, the terrace makes you want to stroll along the cobbled streets, and on the other a mystical feel emanating from the religious monument. A pleasant place to have a break after walking around town.
- Bistrot Cocagne, 10 rue des Dames. Sunny all afternoon
9. Time stops at le Progrès’ terrace
A very pleasant neighbourhood atmosphere reigns in this perfectly located square, ideal for evening drinks. Out on Le Progrès’ terrace, as well as at the Ambassade next door, you will need your sunglasses towards the end of the afternoon. Enjoy watching the world go by in the shade of the trees out on this triangular terrace. You will no doubt fall in love with this little restaurant, that also serves lovely salads and delicious desserts. There are other great places to discover nearby: Monsieur Yak is on the other side of the street. To get to La Chope (oldest restaurant in Rennes), simply walk a little further down the street. Le Bocal, another renowned restaurant, is also less than 20 metres away. Further down, you will find the Ambassade and its delicious burgers.
- Le progrès, 7, rue de la Chalotais. Sunny from midday to dusk.
10. The Balthazar’s patio luxury and quiet at the tea room
If you are looking for a refined terrace on a zen-like patio, head to the Balthazar. The 5-star hotel & spa offers a quiet area to sit in amongst refreshing greenery, as well as a second street-side terrace that belongs to the Table de Balthazar. On Sundays, a brunch is served, focusing on wellness, with detox smoothies. A high-end restaurant for a refreshing break after a stroll through town or a visit to the Fine Arts Museum next door.
- The balthazar, 19, rue du Maréchal Joffre sunny from 11am to 4pm