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Summary Article: Rennes
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Administrative centre of Ille-et-Vilainedépartement, western France, 60 km/37 mi southeast of St Malo at the confluence of the Ille and Vilaine rivers; population (2005 est) 210,500. The city is an important economic base and is the main commercial centre for western France. It produces chemicals, electronics, cars, railway equipment, agricultural machinery, and food products. There are also printing works and nearby Vern-sur-Seiche has an oil refinery. The city was the capital of the former province of Brittany.

Rennes was the capital of a Celtic tribe, the Redones (from whom the town's name derives). In spite of having been the capital of the old province of Brittany, Rennes is essentially a modern town. Most of its buildings were constructed after a fire broke out in December 1720 and burnt for a week; almost 900 half-timbered houses were reduced to ashes. Following the fire, the king's architect, Jacques Gabriel, was commissioned to work on the city's reconstruction. Construction of the cathedral commenced in 1787. With the canalization of the river Vilaine in 1840, and the coming of the railway in 1857, Rennes began to assume its present form as regional capital. The railway resulted in the city's extension southwards with the construction of a new area that was home to the railway workers. The second trial of Alfred Dreyfus, the French army officer accused of betraying military secrets to Germany, was held in Rennes in 1899. In 1944, during World War II, the town was again severely damaged.

Breton culture is a research speciality at its two universities, the University of Rennes I and the University of Rennes II, which were originally a single institution founded in 1735. Rennes also has an agricultural college and a medical school. Buildings include the town hall (1734), the 11th-century former abbey church of Notre-Dame (dating from the 11th century), and a cathedral that was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. Parts of the 15th-century ramparts remain. The old quarter of Rennes has half-timbered houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. Rennes' opera house (1836) is neo-classical in style, and is one of the last of this type of French theatres in existence. King Henry II of France established the Parlement de Bretagne in 1554, setting up a provincial supreme court of justice (1709). The Parlement survived the fire of 1720; however, during a demonstration by Breton fishermen in 1994 the Parlement's roof was accidentally set alight. Restoration work was completed in 1999. The city is also home to the Musée de Bretagne, France's first regional museum. Rennes has an international airport.

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