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

Interviews

Lulu Laporte - Montpellier

"I can maintain links with my first language, I think it is important when you do not have your family around you to create a good support network and for me I have found that through my international friends. It has been especially helpful for my children to have English speaking friends, I want then to be completely bilingual. Running an English speaking play group in Montpellier has exceeded my expectations of feeling a part on the international community." (LL Jan 11)

  • Lulu Laporte

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Montpellier?
    Lulu Laporte, 35 years old. Ive lived in Montpellier for 3 years (9 years in France total though...)

    What nationality are you and your partner?
    I’m English and my partner Francis is French

    How many children do you have and what are their names and ages?
    I have 2 children and one on the way, Thomas 3 years and Billy 5 years.

    Do you work and if so what to you do?
    I am auto entrepreneur and I help families relocate to the area.

    What was your experience of giving birth here?
    Excellent, both births in public hospitals, helpful staff, clean rooms. I was lucky to have a room to myself with a bathroom.

    How well integrated would you say you and your children are?
    Very well integrated, they attend a local private bilingual school (French / Occitan) so are now trilingual. Being bilingual from birth helps children learn other languages more easily

    What language do you speak to your children?
    We speak both English and French and Francis speaks French to the children. Occasionally I will speak French to the children, depending on where we are, ie at school or a park. Sometimes I dont want them to feel different

    What is your impression of childcare and education in Montpellier?
    I have never used the childcare system in France as I have raised my children from birth until they went to school at 3 years old.
    I often make comparisons to the education system in England which may or may not be a good thing.
    I am suprised that they do not start to read until they are six years old, saying that have nothing negative to say about the education system I have experienced so far.

    Where you live, how good are the facilities for children (shops, restaurants, activities etc)?
    I live on the outskirts of the city centre. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to La place de La Comedie. We have all the facilties we need around us, until recently we were lacking in green spaces within walking distance, however this month a new park of 26 hectares, parc Montcalm was opened and should become the biggest public park in Montpellier- we just have to wait a year or so.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Montpellier?
    I can maintain links with my first language, I think it is important when you do not have your family around you to create a good support network and for me I have found that through my international friends.
    It has been especially helpful for my children to have English speaking friends, I want then to be completely bilingual, Running an English speaking play group in Montpellier has exceeded my expectations of feeling a part on the international community and has encouragedmy husband and I to set up a business helping expats move to the area.
    As for disadvantages I cant think of any really. My one word of advise is to learn French and to mix with French speakers as it is all part of the experience in moving to a foreign country to mix with local people and to integrate into the community.

    Is there anything you think would improve children´s lives in Montpellier?
    More activities, sporting or other within the school week and not just on "the non school day of Wednesday " which can prove to be quite expensive at the end of the year.

    What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Montpellier with children?
    Do some research before you come, look on forums, ask questions. People are very happy to part with information and it can give you a good idea of what to expect when you come. Come and stay in Montpellier before you move and not necessarily in summer and visit areas and schools  Make an effort to see what is available, go out and meet people, join a group doing something you like. Introduce some French to your children before they come. For expectant mothers, learn the French for push.......

    What couldn´t you live without in Montpellier?
    The PIG playgroup I run in Montpellier. http://piglanguedoc.blogspot.com/

    What could you live without in Montpellier?
    After having lived in France for 9 years, I cannot think of much I dont like in Montpellier, I hope to stay here and raise our children well into their adulthood.

    January 2011