Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 2 months ago

Interviews

Penelope Sadoudi - Toulouse

"I still have not quite got the balance between work and Kids but I am luck to have 2 very flexible jobs. I think of myself a a trainée juggler so I have to consider that dropping a few balls is inevitable" (PS, Sep 13)

  • Landscape Architect Penelope Sadoudi

    Centro Yoga Om, Vilanova i la Geltru Image

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Toulouse? Which part of Toulouse do you live in ?
    Penelope Sadoudi age 47, been here since I was 21 with a few trips abroad to Uk and middle east. I live in Levignac N West of Toulouse

    Why did you move there?
    I lived for 8 years in Pibrac and loved the area, found a beautiful great Cedar tree to buy and there was an acceptable house on the same plot

    What is the area like where you live?
    I live in a village in the countryside only 30mins from Touluse. I reckon Ive got the best of both worlds

    What nationality are you and your partner?
    I am british, I live alone with my 2 children who are bilingual, their father is french hes moved aboad again

    How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
    My children are Owen 10 and Mia 8

    What was your experience of having a baby in Toulouse?
    I had both my children in Clinique Ambroise Paré and although the clinic food is pretty bad it is hugely reassuring to know there are some of the best spécialists in France and the most amazing medical facilities they have great support in neonat through Purpan Hospital which is just down the road.

    Do you work and if so what do you do?
    I am a landscape architect I work on private and public projects. I run greenfrog garden design and offer coaching session to assist people who arrive in the area and take over gardens which need transforming or updating or maybe just rationalising to make maintenant easier.

    I also run Monsieur Mole.com and e-commerce selling beautiful personnalised blankets and baby gift for babies and children.
    This is an extension of my sisters business Mr Moleblankets.co.uk. Naomi runs the workshop in the UK which creates each unique blanket and sends them out all over the world.

    How do you manage to find the balance between work and kids?
    I still have not quite got the balance between work and Kids but I am luck to have 2 very flexible jobs. I think of myself a a trainée juggler so I have to consider that dropping a few balls is inevitable.

    Did you buy or rent your property? How did you find the process?
    I was very familiar with property purchase and sale in the UK and France because of my parents business so I found it mostly straight forward. I can understand that people who arrive now must find the whole process a nightmare. Over the years the process has progressively become more and more complex and time consuming but also very tightly controled with less scope for "dodgy deals" the notaires fees stabilize the market and avoid speculation which could push the market up atificially. There are advantages and inconveniences both ways.

    How well integrated would you say you and your family are?
    We are completely integrated, my children think of themselves as french first and have been in the french school system as nationals since day one

    What language do you speak to your children?
    I speak in english with my children

    What is your impression of childcare and education in Toulouse?
    My impression of childcare and education is pretty much my opinion of all organisation in France. Based on rules established by Napoleon the organisations are over complicated antiquated and mainly unable to be modernised to suit our modern lifestyles. Autoentrepreneur was in my opinion the first step in the right direction. It simplified working in France enormously. Anybody who had tried being a profession liberale on the old regime would appreciate the huge reduction in paperwork.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Toulouse?
    We dont thing of ourselves as being specifically "from the international Community of Toulouse" We are not expats were immigrants!

    How welcoming were the locals when you arrived in Toulouse?
    Ther would seem to be few "locals" I dont know many people who are true bred Toulousains, most of our friends are french people from other regions. I already spoke french when I arrived so integration has not been a problem

    Would you say your area is family-friendly and is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
    Our area is pretty child friendly, my children can play safely with the other chldren of our street with supervision from lots of adults in the street, Owen can go down to the skatepark where he knows lots of teenagers who "look after the little ones" The local shops and post office know my children so they are welcomed in the village. This is because weve been in our house for 10 years.

    What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Toulouse with children?
    My advice to anyone thinking of relocation with babies or young children. Contact Tots and Co to reach a big group of Anglophone Mums who can help enormously with all the difficult aspects of moving here. Tots and Co is a mother and Toddler group which has been running very successfully for many years. they have huge resources of info for newcomers

    What couldn´t you live without in Toulouse?
    PG tips tea and baked beans but we can get them here now 

    Sept 2013