The Flexible Traveller’s Guide to Rainy Rennes

Rennes center 2015

If you’re going to Rennes on a long weekend break, make sure to take your umbrella with you.

I checked the weather forecast more as a wishful thinking than anything, because on an early-April trip, I knew what I would find there. Rainy Rennes. Anyone who’s ever been to the Bretagne region in France knows you’ll get a bit of rain in the mix any time of year you go. It can be spring, middle of summer or torrid (elsewhere!) August; in Rennes you’ll get some rain.

So, to take what this city has best to offer on such a wet forecast, we planned our day at the Musee de Bretagne, Brittany’s museum, looking forward to discovering the history of France through advertising posters. Managing an umbrella and jumping sidewalk water pools is much more exciting on a (rare) rainy day in a South European city like Barcelona than under the Northern drizzle.

So, here we are, mentally and clothing-wise equipped, arriving in Rennes and… the sun is up! Now that’s a confusion. What to do now? Was really looking forward to seeing that advertising expo, but… to waste an exceptional sunny day in Bretagne, of all places, to stay inside?! Out of the question. I can tell you, you’ve rarely seen a person happily change their plans faster than me the past weekend. What museum? What collection? Out in the sunny streets is where I am! Unexpected, unplanned and magical.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

Rennes, France, old town     Old town Rennes, France

In Rennes the Sun is a bit shy to get out, naked, all by itself in the sky. A few silky clouds almost always cover its hotter parts from time to time. The colors the sun creates by playing with the clouds’ shade splash even harder on the buildings and in freshly-heated alleys. The half-timbered houses in the historic centre of Rennes take on a new life and show off their true colors under the warm sunlight. Brittany’s 17th Century Parliament has seen its share of rainy days – the deep-green park in front of it is witness. But not today. Today the white walls are whiter, and the golden rooftop statues are shinier in the basking sun.


I’m exaggerating really. The city of Rennes has officially about 50 sunny days per year. That’s like… almost 2 months in a year! …if you’re lucky to catch them. But when travelling through Northern France, you need to stay flexible with your plans. And most of all, don’t be too sure of the “typical” weather.

We travel to open our mind and get educated by each culture we step into, but many times we fall into the trap of searching for security. Let’s check the weather forecast. Let’s plan on what we’ll do 3 weeks from now in a city we’ve never been to. We need security to stay balanced, that’s one of our basic needs. But travel shows you how to be adaptable, to let yourself be insecure and discover each day and each place with all their surprises.

Maybe next time you go to Rennes you’ll leave your umbrella home.


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