"In my opinion, education and childcare in France is second to none and that is one of the reasons we chose this country to relocate to. The level of work which my 7 year old is given is far higher than the standards he would have been set in the UK. The discipline at the school is also extremely high and the children have a huge amount of respect for their teachers. This is all excellent for achieving a high level of academic success however I would say that there is a general lack of encouragement for creativity and extra curricula activity" (YM, feb 2011)
What is your name, age and how long have you lived in La Mayenne?
Yasmeen Moore, 41, I have lived in Mayenne for nearly 3 years.
Why did you decide to move there?
My husband and I both had very demanding jobs which involved long hours and a lot of travelling abroad. After having our second son we realised that we wanted to spend more quality time together as a family rather than grabbing a few hours at the end of the day together when everyone was tired.
We initially travelled to France to look for a second home. However, after observing the French way of life over time we realized that this was how we wanted to spend our lives with our children. We searched for many business opportunities over much of France and visited many areas but it was la Mayenne that offered us the perfect business opportunity in a beautiful and unspoilt area.
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?.
We have 2 sons. Oliver born in September 2003 and Toby born in October 2006.They were both born in Sussex, UK.
Do you work and if so what do you do?
I run a gîte complex and restaurant with my husband. This is a complete change for both of us as neither of us has ever worked in the hospitality business before. The summers are crazy but fun and the winters are quiet but relaxing.
What was your experience of relocating to La Mayenne with children?
We found that it is very much ‘you have to be cruel to be kind’ to your children. Oliver was 4 when we moved here and starting a new school where everyone spoke French was very hard for him. It was very difficult to leave him at the school gates crying every day but we knew that once he was over the initial shock of it all he would benefit from everything the school had to offer him. It was a difficult first week but after that it became easier and easier
Would you do things differently if you did it again?
I can’t think of anything I would do differently which is quite a nice thing to say I suppose.
How well integrated would you say you and your children are?
Our children are completely integrated into French life. They both speak fluent French and have many friends at school. They visit their friends’ houses to play and the parents are very welcoming to them. Toby speaks English with a slight French accent which is quite funny
How welcoming were the locals when you first came to the region?
We have been very lucky as from day 1 the locals have welcomed us into their community. The local Mairie has helped us with lots of our administration problems and he always tried his best to resolve any problems we have had. My husband is a member of the village fête association and also a member of the school fund-raising committee and this has helped us become part of the village life.
There are always problems with the language barrier which I sometimes wonder if we will ever overcome, but we keep on trying. Also cultural differences can sometimes cause the occasional faux pas, but usually the locals forgive us.
How would you describe a typical Mayennais?
Very conservative in outlook and tend not to travel too far from home ; used to their own way of life and way of doing things. However, extremely friendly and welcoming.
What language do you speak to your children?
Mostly English but sometimes French to help with homework etc.
What is your impression of childcare and education in La Mayenne?
In my opinion, education and childcare in France is second to none and that is one of the reasons we chose this country to relocate to. The level of work which my 7 year old is given is far higher than the standards he would have been set in the UK. The discipline at the school is also extremely high and the children have a huge amount of respect for their teachers. This is all excellent for achieving a high level of academic success however I would say that there is a general lack of encouragement for creativity and extra curricula activity.
What school(s) do your children go to?
Our children both go the school in our village of Le Ham
Why did you choose this school/these schools and are you happy with your choice?
We chose this school because it is our village school and we did not even think of researching other schools in the area. I think that if you are serious about being accepted and integrated within your community then you need to make as much effort as you can to show that you want to be support and be part of the community. Using the village school is one way of showing your support.
The school that Oliver and Toby attend is wonderful. Oliver started when he was 4 and his first week was very difficult as it couldn’t speak any French, nobody could speak any English and he didn’t know anyone. Within a week he had made friends and was communicating with them in some form of French. The teachers are fantastic and they have made the children feel very welcome and loved.
Have you bought a property in the area, and if so what was your experience?
Yes, we bought our business here in 2007. The process was a very lengthy one and even though my husband could speak fluent French we still would not have been able to cope very well without the aid of English Solicitors specializing in the French buying process.
The process of buying a house is a very good one as it lessens the risk of gazumping and time wasters, however the amount of paperwork and red tape you have to go through is mind blowing!
Are there any particular family restaurants, activities for kids or shops you can recommend in La Mayenne?
We love the Vivaldi Pizzeria at Villaines la Juhel as it is child friendly and the pizzas are really good. Coco Plage at Sillé le Guillaume is wonderful in the summer and Le Monde des Petits Loups in Laval is good for rainy days.
What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in La Mayenne?
An advantage is that you get to spend a lot of quality time with your children and they learn the real value of family life.
The disadvantage is that there is not that much extra curricula activity for the children and the families in the area tend to spend time with their own families rather than wanting to attend social activities at the week-ends.
Is there anything you think would improve children’s lives where you live?
At the moment the children have a perfect life, however when they get older the area may not offer them what they want in terms of activities and challenges.
What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to La Mayenne with children?
Do your homework first and make sure that this is the life you really want. It is a big change to the life you will probably currently lead in the UK so it could be a shock if your expectations don’t match reality. Don’t view life abroad with rose-tinted spectacles as there are pluses and minuses of living in France, just like in any country.
What couldn´t you live without in La Mayenne?
My husband and children
What could you live without in La Mayenne?
Shops closing between 12-2pm.