Rennes is the capital of the Brittany region. As a relatively small city it is often overlooked by tourists, however, it is a classified ‘city of art and history’ and enjoys an eclectic mix of inhabitants. Although steeped in small-town French charm, the city is host to around 60,000 students and boasts a vibrant nightlife. Central streets are lined with bars, typically French eateries and some small clubs. These are peppered amongst the traditional medieval-style, timber-framed houses, many of which are originals, though most were rebuilt to recreate the city’s charm after a devastating fire in 1720. Expats living in Rennes will find that the local community is vibrant and arts and music festivals are common throughout the year. For the expat who wishes to avoid the busy student nightlife, there is the weekly ‘Fest-Noz’, a traditional ball where people of all ages drink local beer, eat local food and dance to local music. Summer months see the streets fill with free entertainment as crowds gather around the terraces of restaurants and cafes. And the beautiful 'Parc du Thabor', filled with both local and tropical flora, is a local treasure for any expatriate in Rennes to explore around this time, too.
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Expatriates moving to Rennes will find that the climate mirrors most of northern France, with cold winters and mild, sunny summers. Shops are available for all needs and every Saturday morning there is a large food market in the 'Place des Lices' near the main bus station, selling low price local delicacies and everyday items. The bus and metro system in Rennes is very good and will help avoid the costly parking that car drivers suffer. Those new to the city can visit 'Les Champs Libres', a new building that contains the municipal library and a history of Brittany museum. The building is a great place to learn about the area or to simply meet people in the outdoor cafe. Those wishing to live and work in Rennes who are already part of the EU can do so without a working visa. Short and long-term visas are available for expats who are hailing from outside of the EU. Search the forums and InterNations articles for useful advice and information on working and living in France.
Rennes has an economy based primarily on agriculture, producing products that are consumed both within the region and throughout the country, and industrial products such as car manufacture, farm equipment and railroad products. The largest employer in the city is PSA Peugeot Citroën, with most of its employees working at the manufacturing plant in Rennes La Janais. Telecommunications and ITC are a close second in terms of possible employment opportunities, with France Telecom employing around 1200 workers. Learning French will be of huge benefit if you are hoping to be able to start working in Rennes. Companies both large and small may not look favorably on applicants who cannot speak the local language. Considerations such as language and getting used to a foreign culture, as well as topics such as social security and health insurance and more are discussed in articles and forums posts on InterNations. And any expatriate moving to Rennes, France can not only benefit from this information, but also use InterNations to simply socialize and network with fellow expats living in Rennes, France, or across the world.