Walking through Rennes, a perfectly fine town in Brittany that has been on my to-visit list for some time, I said to Mark, will we look back on this and say you know, I really liked Rennes, let’s go back? This is not to say we didn’t like it, not at all. The town is appealing with a good mix of really old and nicely new. We certainly ate very well: lunch at the newly-minted Michelin starred restaurant Racines, and later we had what were perhaps the best crêpes of our lives. There’s at least 2 fantastic bookstores where I would be happy to spend hours, and a coffee shop employing developmentally disabled adults that also had the best coffee in town. Add to that a cat cafe, Le Chat Puccino, with 5 extremely outgoing and friendly cats. See, this is how it happens, and why I like to write things down. Because looking back on Rennes, I love it. But at the time, there was something missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. So I write things down to keep myself honest. Memory is a changeable thing. Because we’re not just off touring towns, we’re test-driving them. Mark said the only thing left on his list of things to do is to live somewhere else in France for a while. We can do that! Not that we have any intention of giving up the tiny house for now. As Mark once said when I was in the middle of some serious apartment envy: small house, big world. The tiny digs allows us to be flexible.
I’ve given a lot of thought to what makes a place speak to us. It’s house-hunting writ large. You have your list of non-negotiables, your list of would-be-nice, and your list of no-way-in-hell. Then you set off looking. You have to breathe and taste a place. Because you can’t analyze the intangible: how a place makes you feel. We’re looking for a spark. And since we’re already living in one of our favorite places, the next place can’t just be a quieter, less-polluted Paris; a Paris-lite. (I’m also willing to consider that we’d be happy just moving around, serially nomadic, but don’t tell Mark yet.)
Here’s a few photos of where we won’t be moving. My friend Rosemary told me how she’s putting France back on her travel list because I’ve been reminding her of how many superb smaller towns and villages there are, and my friend Beatrice said, Thanks for traveling the nooks and crannies of France so we don’t have to! You’re welcome. It’s a public service I provide 😉
Public garden in front of the prefecture of police, if I’m not mistaken.
The historic center
The ambassador of Rennes, or at least the ambassador of the Chat Puccino. I told my sister that a squirrely calico met us at the door and immediately offered her belly. She said things sure are different in France!
My favorite kind of art, the kind that sneaks up on you in the street.
The art nouveau pool, sadly (for us) undergoing restoration.
So what was missing? I still can’t say. I think looking at a place as a place to possibly live and not just a place to see changes the equation. Perhaps Rennes simply suffers from comparison. Stay tuned!