It’s hard to believe we’ve only been in Rennes for two months. Hasn’t it been much longer? We’ve been very active, and we’ve paid the price. We got worn down, and feel a bit tired, but overall we are happy at what we’ve seen and done. I have my favorite café, market stalls, craft beer pub, Tunisian patisserie, photo shop and cider maker. Not far from Rennes we have our preferred beach, canal walks and fish soup restaurant.
Our main objective in spending time here was to explore smaller, less expensive and cooler (in terms of temperatures) alternatives to Nice and we succeeded. We now know they exist, and that Rennes is a good candidate. So is Nantes. And furthermore, we realize there are many such candidates if we only look. Might we become as enchanted by the Occitanie if we spend a summer there? So many smaller French cities, so little time and money.
What we like about Rennes/Nantes:
- smaller, less complicated to get around and manage
- lots of countryside and natural spaces nearby
- gorgeous coastline nearby in three directions
- cooler summers
- beautiful old and new architecture
- very friendly people
- relatively safe
- city populations are younger than those on the Riviera, and feel more energetic, on the move
- good airports
What makes us nervous about settling in Rennes:
- fewer cultural offerings to our liking (only one movie theater with films in original language, not dubbed)
- smaller social circle
- winter weather
Our social circle in Rennes is very small, and social capital is an important criteria for where to settle. We do know one couple, Ruth and John, who helped make us feel more than welcome and at home, guiding us through various bureaucratic processes (btw, we are now official residents of France) and pointing us to choice events.
We met a few friendly expats in Nantes, and a local French woman with whom we’ll stay in touch. At least that’s a start, just in case.
It’s worth remembering that we have been under the spell of unusually fine weather, even for summer, during this stay. The normal is more rain and cooler temperatures. If we were to spend January and February here, we might feel less reluctant to leave.
No question, we have formed an attachment to Brittany. I am certain we will return, for a summer or for longer.