Rennes 2030

You can’t be in Rennes long before you notice all the construction. Whether you enter by the train station, which is undergoing a major expansion and renovation, complete with green space for passengers awaiting departure, or by the airport, where a second metro line under construction will have a terminus, the works underway impress. Driving out of the city in any direction takes one past big apartment blocks and more going up. For the most part, they’re not bad-looking.

In the center, new public spaces and renovation of public buildings are underway. Several squares are currently under re-design, with more to come. The Place du Champs Jaquet (that’s a statue of the mayor during the French Revolution, tearing up  a list of people destined for the guillotine) will probably lose its bus traffic in its new incarnation.

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Rennes will probably have a summer beach on the banks of the Vilaine river, Paris Plage-style, by 2020. The central market will be transformed according to the model of the Time Out market in Lisbon or Eataly in Turin. There will be more fountains and trees, pedestrianized zones and cycle paths.  For a city already with fine parks, there will be even more, and different varieties. The plan is to activate the city artfully at night, too, with the help of installations by designers.

It’s all part of Rennes 2030, a re-imagining of the future of the city.

I don’t know how much of the urban planning underway takes its cues from other cities, and how much is original. But I am impressed with the strategy, creativity and intention of the program created to involve the citizens of Rennes. It has three phases over the course of five months with “urban cafés” (I think those are like the USA’s town halls), city walks with a planner, digital platforms and a diversity of other channels for citizens to choose as a means to make their opinions known. Today we were stopped by people in the central square with tablets taking surveys (we told them we weren’t eligible).

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While the plan specifically addresses “le coeur de Rennes,” the “heart” of the city, infrastructure and building works are being designed to accommodate an increase in population around the center and into the suburbs.  What are the best French cities to invest in? Rennes is near the very top of the list.

I don’t see where the mayor, Nathalie Appéré, has a plan to address the problems common to cities that also plague Rennes, such as homelessness, but maybe I haven’t found it. I don’t doubt she’s given them some thought.

homeless man, champs libres

I, for one, am looking forward to the conclusions of the Coeur de Rennes program in early 2019.

 

About kmazz

I spend as much time as possible pursuing my interests in global culture, photography, arts and politics.
This entry was posted in Brittany, expat, France, Rennes, urban planning. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Rennes 2030

  1. Jane Baars says:

    Merci for the update on Rennes. You have given me new motivation to see the city I haven’t seen since 1979. Merci pour la photo aussi—is there still a cafe/bar there under those half timbered buildings?

  2. Ruth Miller says:

    Kathleen,

    Great information! I want to forward this to my blog list and post it to the Rennes expat forum. http://www.expat.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=769

    OK?

    Ruth

  3. Ruth Ann Lake says:

    I realize this is a big generalization Kathleen but I have found France to be about 10 times better than Italy in realizing urban renewal and infrastructure projects. They seem to be more forward thinking and simply organized in actually getting the project going and completed. As measured by Transparency International, there is less corruption and the construction sector all over the world is a sector rife w corruption.. So there is more of a feeling of things looking on the up and up. I’m in Tuscany now and as usual will have to drive home through the dreaded Genova. Ive always found the infrastructure there (tunnels, old crumbling highways and yes bridges!) to seem very decrepit.. yes they have geological limitations but they are not the only city on the sea with hills… Ive read an article with proposals of what to do about replacing the collapsed Mirandi bridge and one of the most innovative involves building a tunnel and turning the surface area into a big park. That would certainly create more space rather than building another bridge on the top of apartment blocks! Unfortunately now the political parties, city, provincial, regional and national governments are all fighting over who gets the contract and who will lead it, a politician or a technical expert. All the news reports are filled w details of who is fighting with who. All too typical…

    • kmazz says:

      Some of the work on the train station here goes on 18 hours a day. In the less than two months we’ve been here the work has progressed rapidly. Very impressive.

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