What You Need To Know
Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France at the confluence of the Ille and the Vilaine. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.
Rennes’s history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small Gallic village named Condate. Together with Vannes and Nantes, it was one of the major cities of the historic province of Brittany and the ancient Duchy of Brittany. After the French Revolution, Rennes remained for most of its history a parliamentary, administrative and garrison city of the Kingdom of France.
Since the 1950s, Rennes has grown in importance through rural flight and its modern industrial development, partly automotive. The city developed extensive building plans to accommodate upwards of 200,000 inhabitants. During the 1980s, Rennes became one of the main centres in telecommunication and high technology industry. It is now a significant digital innovation centre in France.
- The Euro is the official currency of France, and of most European Union member states, excluding the UK and the Czech Republic, among others. The Euro, symbolized by a “€,” has been in public circulation since January, 2002. The franc, the former official currency of France, is no longer accepted, however, you may see that some price tags in France give the price both in Euro and in francs, to help those who still think in terms of francs.
There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.
- By far the easiest way to pay for thigs in France is simply to use an international credit card or debit card. Visa and Mastercard can be used all over France, and American Express cards and other international cards in a number of places. But obviously, there are situations in which paying with plastic is not an option. Visitors to France therefore need to have some Euros to hand, to pay for small or larger items and in cases where the trader does not accept cards.
- So again, the simplest solution is to use your international credit card or debit card. You can withdraw money from cash-dispensers (ATMs) in France in exactly the same way as you would at home – except that you will be asked to select a sum in Euros. Your card company or bank will automatically debit your account in your usual currency, having converted the sum at the day’s exchange rate.
However, there are some golden rules that you need to follow if you do not want to end up paying far more than necessary for this service, or running out of cash because you have reached your limit for withdrawals.
Rennes features an oceanic climate with mild winters and warm summers. Precipitation in Rennes is considerably less abundant than in the western parts of Brittany, reaching only half of the levels of, e.g., the city of Quimper, which makes rainfall in Rennes comparable to the levels of larger parts of western Germany. Sunshine hours range between 1,700 and 1,850 annually, which is about the amount of sunshine received by the city of Lausanne.
French, the official language, is the first language of the majority of the population. Most of those who speak minority languages also speak French, Breton is a Celtic language spoken by some of the inhabitants of Brittany in France. Today it is said that some 2 million people speak this language.
Although the Breton language is not universally used in Rennes it can still be seen in places, eg folk songs and some signs are also in Breton.
It is said that the language is becoming more and more popular in Britanny. It is even being taught in some schools.
Health and security
- The French healthcare system relies on both public and private facilities, which cater to both residents and foreigners. Care is funded by a public health insurance scheme, which is financed by mandatory contributions to the state health system.
This funding covers the majority of costs; however, in most situations the patient is liable for a fraction of the cost (usually around 30%). This remaining charge can be funded directly by the patient or through a supplementary private health insurance.
Given the cost of treatment, it is advisable to take out supplementary cover. There are a number of insurers to choose from, some catering specifically to expats and English speakers living in Rennes while others are targeted to certain professions.
Unlike in other countries, the French health system caters to all. Those without private health insurance are entitled to use the same facilities as everybody else, so you can take your pick of treatment facilities should you need them.
The town of Rennes is an extremely friendly place overall, and women should feel safe while visiting, even if they are alone. France is generally very safe, and has a have relatively low rate of violent crime, but as with visiting unfamiliar towns and cities, some neighborhoods in this town do merit a bit of extra caution. Overall crime in France has fallen in recent years, but visitors should be careful when on the move. And unfortunately petty crime has in fact, been on the rise, and typically tourists are at the greatest risk. The most common types of crimes are pickpockets at train stations, on buses and even at the airports.
- If you’re using a rental car make sure to lock the doors while visiting tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations and airports. Photocopies of travel documents and credit cards should be kept separate from the originals and key telephone numbers maintained to contact banks if credit cards are stolen or lost.
- DON’T Go to your bank and exchange all your money before your France or European trip. You will probably pay a higher rate than necessary, and you don’t want to be running around with all that cash in your wallet.
- The water and food shouldn’t give visitors any cause for concern, but when in doubt while traveling you might want to stick to bottled water. And be sure and bring at least a light jacket regardless of the time of year you visit, as there can be a chill in the air, even in the height of summer.
- First get information about the tides before going to Mont St Michel. Otherwise you might lose your car! Or you can’t leave the city for a while… When the tide comes up, the parking lot and the way to Mont St Michel runs under water. It’s impossible to get through then.