Ill-e-Vilaenn (Gallo)
Il-ha-Gwilen (Breton)
an urban river flowing past modern apartment buildings in the foreground past trees whose leaves are changing with autumn under a bridge and into the city center of Rennes. There are boats docked along the side of the river.
The river Vilaine flowing through Rennes
Flag of Ille-et-Vilaine
Coat of arms of Ille-et-Vilaine
Location of Ille-et-Vilaine in France
Location of Ille-et-Vilaine in France
Coordinates: 48°10′N 01°40′W / 48.167°N 1.667°W / 48.167; -1.667
 • President of the Departmental CouncilJean-Luc Chenut[1] (PS)
 • Total6,775 km2 (2,616 sq mi)
 • Total1,098,325
 • Rank21st
 • Density160/km2 (420/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number35
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Ille-et-Vilaine (French pronunciation: [il e vilɛn] ; Gallo: Ill-e-Vilaenn, Breton: Il-ha-Gwilen) is a department of France, located in the region of Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the Ille and the Vilaine. It had a population of 1,079,498 in 2019.[3]


Ille-et-Vilaine is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the province of Brittany.


Ille-et-Vilaine is a part of the current region of Brittany and it is bordered by the departments of Manche to the north-east, Mayenne to the east, Maine-et-Loire to the south-east, Loire-Atlantique to the south, Morbihan to the south-west, and Côtes-d'Armor to the west and north-west – France's shortest administrative department boundary at 20 yards (19 metres), although this was not the case with the department boundary. Also the English Channel (la Manche in French) borders the department to the north.

The department is named after its two main rivers, the Ille and the Vilaine, whose confluence is in Rennes, the capital of the department and of the region. Other important rivers include:

The department is moderately elevated above the level of the sea, with many hills; however the central part has a dense network of many tributaries to the Ille or the Vilaine from all around the large basin of Rennes. The elevated hills bordering this basin are covered by several old forests now exploited by men for the production of wood. The basin itself is a rich agriculture area, as well as the north-west of the department near the Rance.

In the extreme south of the department the Vilaine goes through a slower decrease in elevation in a small corridor in the area of the city of Redon; in this area, the Vilaine is known for its frequent floods during its recent history, often because of too-intensive draining of agricultural areas around Rennes (some floods also affected some parts of Rennes up to the 1980s due to incorrect management of old equipment of the canal of Ille-et-Rance). To avoid these hazards within inhabited cities, some natural fields bordering the Vilaine in the south of the department are now left floodable, and works for regulating the level have been done including, small artificial lakes with derivation channels, replanting trees in the basin, better management of forests, and regulating the artificial drains made for agriculture.

Principal towns

The most populous commune is Rennes, the prefecture. As of 2019, there are 6 communes with more than 15,000 inhabitants:[3]

Commune Population (2019)
Rennes 220,488
Saint-Malo 46,803
Fougères 20,595
Bruz 18,905
Vitré 18,487
Cesson-Sévigné 17,082


The population has grown rapidly over the last few decades and was estimated at 1,051,779 in January 2016.

Population development since 1801:

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on


Gallo is a historic minority language spoken in eastern Brittany. Gallo and Breton are both studied at the University of Rennes.


Historically, the Breton language was little spoken in the eastern part of Brittany, and this was one of the first regions where the language disappeared such that Breton was not spoken for many centuries.

Today, Breton is again spoken due to schools teaching Breton, and due to a small immigration from Western Brittany to Eastern Brittany, where there are more cities with growing industries and external investment and therefore more work. A recent study[6] shows that Breton speakers in this region represent 3.3% of the total number of Breton speakers. The Breton speakers aged 18–30 in this region represent 12.7% of the total number of Breton speakers of that age group. This is because there are relatively few elder speakers but many people are learning the language. The study says that about 1,800 people are learning it (this includes one Diwan school in Rennes, some bilingual public and catholic schools, and evening courses).


The President of the Departmental Council is the Socialist Jean-Luc Chenut since the 2015 French departmental elections, re-elected in 2021.

The city of Rennes and its suburbs are the original base of the rapid Socialist growth in the department. The city has been governed by Socialist Mayors since 1977, notably by Edmond Hervé between 1977 and 2008. Since then, the growth of middle-class suburbs have helped the Socialists, who have been rapidly gaining strength in those formerly right-leaning areas.

The right remains strong in a strongly Catholic (clerical) area from outside Redon to Vitré or Fougères. In addition, the right is strong in the wealthy coastal area of Saint-Malo and Dinard.

Party seats
Socialist Party 21
Miscellaneous Left 8
Union for a Popular Movement 6
Miscellaneous Right 6
Left Radical Party 5
Centrist Alliance 4
MoDem 2
New Centre 1

Presidential elections 2nd round

Election Winning Candidate Party % 2nd Place Candidate Party %
2022[7] Emmanuel Macron LREM 70.94 Marine Le Pen FN 29.06
2017[8] Emmanuel Macron LREM 77.67 Marine Le Pen FN 22.33
2012 François Hollande PS 55.71 Nicolas Sarkozy UMP 44.29
2007 Ségolène Royal PS 52.39 Nicolas Sarkozy UMP 47.61
2002[8] Jacques Chirac RPR 89.82 Jean-Marie Le Pen FN 10.18
1995[9] Jacques Chirac RPR 51.19 Lionel Jospin PS 48.81

Current National Assembly Representatives

Constituency Member[10] Party
Ille-et-Vilaine's 1st constituency Mostapha Laabid La République En Marche!
Ille-et-Vilaine's 2nd constituency Laurence Maillart-Méhaignerie MoDem
Ille-et-Vilaine's 3rd constituency François André Socialist Party
Ille-et-Vilaine's 4th constituency Gaël Le Bohec La République En Marche!
Ille-et-Vilaine's 5th constituency Christine Cloarec La République En Marche!
Ille-et-Vilaine's 6th constituency Thierry Benoit Union of Democrats and Independents
Ille-et-Vilaine's 7th constituency Gilles Lurton The Republicans
Ille-et-Vilaine's 8th constituency Florian Bachelier La République En Marche!


Saint-Malo, the Corsairs' stronghold, view of the walled city from the south-west

See also


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les conseillers départementaux"., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 4 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2021" (in French). The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b Populations légales 2019: 35 Ille-et-Vilaine, INSEE
  4. ^ "Historique d'Ille-et-Vilaine". Le SPLAF.
  5. ^ "Évolution et structure de la population en 2016". INSEE.
  6. ^ (in French) L'état de la langue bretonne dans l'enseignement en Ille-et-Vilaine (State of the Breton language in education in Ille-et-Vilaine) from Ofis ar Brezhoneg
  7. ^ "Les résultats du second tour de l'élection présidentielle". 19 April 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Présidentielles".
  9. ^ "Résultats de l'élection présidentielle de 1995 par département - Politiquemania".
  10. ^ Nationale, Assemblée. "Assemblée nationale ~ Les députés, le vote de la loi, le Parlement français". Assemblée nationale.