Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 3 months ago

Interviews

Amanda Pattinson - Serres et Montguyard (Dordogne)

"Long before we moved here we decided to keep my children given their ages in the UK system. We were very fortunate that we found an International School nearby that could provide what the children needed. Davids children have been here for 3 years now and as they were younger when they moved here they went into the French system. Although Davids children are now all doing well, I think they found the change from UK to French a tough one. Lots of people we have met who have moved here with teenagers seem to struggle with the French educational system, in that it doesnt appear to be as user friendly as the UK one. This helped us make the decision to keep my two in a UK recognised system, the only down side, and it is a big down side is that their spoken French is limited, which makes is difficult for them to mix with their French peers" (AP, October 2011)

  • What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Serres et Montguyard?
    My name is Amanda Pattinson I am 47 and I have lived in Serres et Montguyard 8 months

    Why did you move there?
    I moved here to be with my partner David

    What is the area like where you live?

    We live just outside of Serres et Montguyard and it is a very rural spot. Lots of open fields, lots of sky and not many neighbours!
    The village itself is picturesque, small and quiet.

    What nationality are you and your partner?

    We are both British

    How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?

    I have three children Lucy 18 who is in the UK finishing her education, Joshua 14 and Juliet 13, but I also have six step children ranges in ages from 19 to 5.
    All of our children were born in the UK.

    What was your experience of relocating to Serres et Montguyard with children?

    The actual move itself was quite easy because we already had a house here. The children found the transition a bit difficult at first as they left their friends and family behind and had to get used to a new school etc… but having step a brother and sister of similar age made it much easier for them to integrate and find new friends quickly.

    Do you work and if so what do you do?
    I am a cook and chocolatier (www.thegreatlittlebiscuitcompany.co.uk) but we also have a shop in Eymet selling tools and paint.

    Did you buy or rent your property? How did you find the process?
    We bought our house at the beginning of 2010, David did the initial search through agents, selected a few for us to view and it didnt take long to find the right property. Everything went smoothly, I think we were lucky to have found somewhere that matched our needs so easily.

    How well integrated would you say you and your family are?
    I have to admit, that integration into the French community has so far been a bit of a non starter!
    We do talk to our french neighbours who are lovely and very helpful, and despite that fact that we run a local business, integration
    into the French community has been slow, which I personally find quite frustrating at times
    We do have quite a large circle of ex-pat friends, but are very aware as they are that only knowing ex-pats can be isolating, and not necessarily a good thing.

    What language do you speak to your children?
    English

    What is your impression of childcare and education in Dordogne?
    Long before we moved here we decided to keep my children given their ages in the UK system. We were very fortunate that we found an International School nearby that could provide what the children needed. Davids children have been here for 3 years now and as they were younger when they moved here they went into the French system. Although Davids children are now all doing well, I think they found the change from UK to French a tough one. Lots of people we have met who have moved here with teenagers seem to struggle with the French educational system, in that it doesnt appear to be as user friendly as the UK one. This helped us
    make the decision to keep my two in a UK recognised system, the only down side, and it is a big down side is that their spoken French is limited, which makes is difficult for them to mix with their French peers.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Dordogne?
    I think the advantages for us have been the fact that as we are a large family we could afford a property big enough to accommodate us all comfortably!
    The weather and the outdoor life is great for both parents and children and something, even though we lived in a rural area in the UK we couldnt enjoy as much
    as we can here. Although there are people in the Dordogne who are from all over Europe and beyond, I think that perhaps a bit like us, many of them form their own
    community and actually dont feel that many of us are actually truly International or integrated. This is a big disadvantage, and I think can only change over a very long period of time.

    How welcoming were the locals when you arrived in Serres et Montguyard?
    We have been made to feel welcome by those few we have met, and I often visit the Mairie for various things.
    I have found everyone there helpful and glad to see me each time I visit.

    Would you say your area is family-friendly and is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
    This is a difficult one to answer. There are actually no facilities for children in our immediate area here that I am aware of, and the children
    tend to make their own entertainment. However, this area is a very safe one, and I think this is important.
    The children themselves may have a different slant on their environment, and I am sure they would much rather have a permanent cinema, bowling alley, and skate park.

    Are you able to recommend to other MumAbroad members in the area any local services (home delivery, plumbers, dentists, babysitters etc) or any activities, restaurants or shops for children in the area?
    The only service I feel I can safely recommend is the school my children attend- The Old School (LAncienne Ecole). Apart from providing a UK based secondary education system, the school also run numerous extra classes for both adults and children, including workshops through the school holidays.

    What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Dordogne with children?
    Moving to another country is a big step and not to be something taken lightly especially if you have children. I have been fortunate in that my partner was already familiar with many of the pros and cons of being here. The advice I would perhaps give to someone looking to relocate, would be to move when your children a very young. They can go into the French educational system without issues, pick up the language and culture quickly and therefore integrate easily into the community. This way familys dont face the dilemas that we have had to face and although both of my children are happy and achieving at their school we are all aware that it isnt necessarily an ideal situation.

    What couldn´t you live without in Dordogne?
    There is nothing material that I couldnt live without. As long as I have David and my family I am happy here.

    What could you live without in Dordogne?!
    All the un -necessary paperwork that the French seem to love so much!

    Amanda owns and runs The Great Little Biscuit Company, hand-made biscuits & chocolates delivered to mainland France
    October 2011