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

Interviews

Tiffany Butler - Maisons Laffitte

"We bring something different to the table, as we are away from our homelands we have something in common with other expats and we share our experiences. The support network here is amazing and really is more like family then mere friendships." (April 2012)

  • Tiffany on Expat Life in Maisons Laffitte

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Maisons Laffitte?
    Tiffany Butler aged 47

    Why did you decide to move there?
    Husband was headhunted to work in Paris

    What nationality are you and your partner?
    British

    How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
    One son, guy born 1998

    Do you work and if so what do you do?
    I run various businesses, I work with my husband’s company Dejavu Trading that works with online financial traders, I also run Treasure Hunts in Paris for companies that want a team building exercise in English, so often major international corporations. I also have a partnership writing creative English for websites and marketing material for non native Anglophones and finally, I have set up and run Xpatlocal.com a free website in English for the expat community living in Maisons Laffitte, so I am pretty busy!

    What was your experience of having baby/babies in Maisons Laffitte?
    My son was three when we arrived but one of the reasons I wanted to set up Xpatlocal was that I spoke no French when I arrived and found it difficult to find resources for young children in the area and also you are expected to understand and take care of your young child’s health, no health visitor to remind you of what vaccinations required!

    How well integrated would you say you and your child(ren) are?
    If I am honest we are mainly based within the expat community, but we do have French friends and my son goes to a bilingual school and speaks much better French than I do!

    What language do you speak to your child(ren)?
    English

    Do you rent or own a property and how did you find the renting/buying process?
    Originally we rented which was very simple and then we bought the house that we rented. I believe this is quite unusual but since there were no agents involved we found it very straightforward. We are, however thinking of moving and I think the process will be rather more complicated and very expensive. The charges involved with buying and selling are extortionate here!

    How welcoming have the locals have been towards you and your family?
    Very, our neighbours in particular have been wonderful.

    What is your impression of childcare and education in Maisons Laffitte?
    We have been very pleased with my son’s school, all schools have issues but since they are studying in two languages it is inevitably hard. I do think that the French way of schooling is more severe and perhaps less fun than it is in the UK. It is also very results driven and when everything is marked out of 20 including sport it can be a bit demotivating.

    What school(s)/nursery(ies) do your children go to?
    L’Ermitage.

    Why did you choose this school/these schools and are you happy with your choice?
    When we arrived I met a lovely French lady in a playpark in Maisons Laffitte and she recommended the school and the same day introduced me to the Headmistress, Guy started the next week!

    Are there any services, activities for kids, day-trips for kids, family-friendly restaurants or kids’ shops you’d like to recommend?
    For little ones then the Ludotheque is good and there is Speedpark which caters for slightly older kids and is a great place for a birthday party but now with a teenager it is slightly different!

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Maisons Laffitte?
    I think the main advantage is that we bring something different to the table, as we are away from our homelands we have something in common with other expats and we share our experiences. The support network here is amazing and really is more like family then mere friendships. This means that we also share information on best doctors, play areas schools etc .The disadvantages are that we are often ignorant of the way things work not having grown up here, particularly the schooling system which is very different from the UK .It can even be as small as not being able to cancel an insurance policy when you want to! It is time consuming trying to work it all out when it would be second nature in the UK.

    Is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
    The facilities in Maisons Laffitte are amazing, there is a golf club, tennis club, riding stables and a swimming pool, not to mention a cinema and various clubs so there is a lot for them to do. In fact children are really well catered for here !

    What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Maisons Laffitte with children?
    Do come,it is a very welcoming and inclusive place to live. Don’t come in August as you won’t find anywhere to live! France still closes in the summer and comes to life again at La R’entrée !

    What couldn´t you live without in Maisons Laffitte?
    My friends.

    What could you live without in Maisons Laffitte?
    The lorries going through the pretty high street.
    (April 2012)