Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 4 weeks ago

Interviews

Melanie Gulliver - Chateauneuf de Grasse (near Nice)

"I try to buy houses. I prefer the security for my kids. It is a hard slog to find a good house here as many agents don’t seem to be very professional, showing you anything that fits the basic requirements, and prices are always ‘negotiable’ which means it is hard to get a feel for the correct value of a house" (MG, March 2011)

  • Interview with Melanie Gulliver

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Chateauneuf de Grasse?
    Melane Gulliver, 47, 2 years (in Nice for 11 years before)

    Why did you move there?
    I was bored with Nice, and prefer the countryside so once my family were established it seemed the right thing to do for all of us.

    What is the area like?
    Great! Green, open spaces but with the Coast only half an hour away.

    What nationality are you and your partner?
    I’m English, he is from New Zealand.

    How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
    I have two sons, Leon born in December 2003 and Isaac born in February 2008.
     

    What was your experience of relocating to Chateauneuf de Grasse  with children?
    Stressful! We only received confirmation of the bank loan about 1 week before we planned to move in. I also moved from a much larger house in Nice to this house so had trouble clearing everything out.

    Do you work and if so what do you do?
    Yes, I am a representative for Usborne children’s books in English, and also manage a few properties.

    Did you buy or rent your property? How did you find the process?
    I try to buy houses. I prefer the security for my kids. It is a hard slog to find a good house here as many agents don’t seem to be very professional, showing you anything that fits the basic requirements, and prices are always ‘negotiable’ which means it is hard to get a feel for the correct value of a house.

    How well integrated would you say you and your family are?
    We are not that integrated into the French social scene as my husband has poor French, but we are very integrated into the Expat scene. I deal with English and French people in my work.

    What language do you speak to your children?
    90% of the time I speak English, the other 10% is in French.

    What is your impression of childcare and education in Chateauneuf de Grasse?
    The local crèche and primary school are excellent . I don’t know about the college but it is a nice modern building. We also have several international schools on our doorstep.

    What school do your children go to? Have you been happy with your choice?
    They are both at a French Montessori school nearby. Yes, I prefer the Montessori system to the traditional French education as I think it nurtures children more.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Chateauneuf de Grasse?
    I don’t see any particular advantages or disadvantages. We are all just parents.

    How welcoming were the locals when you arrived in Chateauneuf de Grasse?
    Mixed. Chateaueneuf itself is a small village and I live quite far outside the village. My neighbours were very welcoming, but I felt the school gate in the morning was not as welcoming as it could have been as everyone living in the village was fairly cliquey.

    Would you say your area is family-friendly and is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
    Very family friendly.. a few more bike lanes would be nice but the roads are so narrow it would be difficult to put them in.

    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?
    I love La Tasse de Couleur in Biot, where you paint your own pottery, and the indoor playground in Mougins, Boomiland, if it is raining. The Valmasque park is also excellent for entertaining the kids with picnics, playgrounds, bike rides, etc.
    The Café des Arcades in Valbonne is the best family restaurant near here, also Capricioso in Pre du Lac does really good pizzas.
    I found my babysitter (and most of my tradesmen) by using Angloinfo.com

    What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Chateauneuf de Grasse with children?
    If you have a baby I’d say go to a big town so you can walk around easily with a pushchair and meet up with other mums for coffee. If you have smaller kids then moving to Chateauneuf de Grasse is a good idea.

    What couldn´t you live without in Chateauneuf de Grasse?
    The greenness and open spaces.

    What could you live without in Chateauneuf de Grasse?
    Nothing.
    (March 2011)