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

Interviews

Interviews With Local Mums

If you are thinking of relocating to France or are interested in family life in another region then look no further than this interview section where we are collating interviews with mums in Paris, Nice, Lyon, Alsace, La Vienne and La Mayenne. They share with us relocation & birth stories, schooling and the general ups & downs of life with children in their region.

If you are a Mum in France, we would love to interview you, so please do not hesitate to contact us

 

  • Anna Powney - La Mayenne

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    "I have always felt at home here geographically but it has taken a while to become integrated socially. The Mayenne is a very rural and traditional area with families who have lived here for generations. The mindset is not very open and change is not on the agenda so the influx of British people into this area gets mixed reactions. Most people are polite and nice but there is a barrier that has to be forced open before any real friendship can be formed" (AP, Nov 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Anna

  • Lorna Bode - Saint Germain en Laye (Paris)

    "As a fluent French speaker I can attend local events and I follow a ceramics course with local people. It is relatively easy to be part of local associations and events, but you do need the language. There are a lot of English speaking families here and at present as my children are at an international school my children and husband are not yet integrated" (Oct 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview

  • Rachel Roxburgh - La Vienne

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    "We ended up buying in the Vienne purely by chance; we decided to move to France as we were both fed up with working the hours we were in the UK, not seeing each other very much and knowing that life is too short to spend our time in jobs that we did not particularly like. We could not afford to buy a property with land in the UK so decided to look in France. We had some friends who were running a B & B in the Vienne so after looking at several areas we visited our friends to end our holiday. They had lined up two houses for us to look at, the second one being the one we bought. When we drove into the hamlet and looked at the house we looked at each other and said “this is it”, made an offer and returned home from our holiday having bought a house in France. Put our house in the UK on the market and 17 weeks later arrived with a big van in France to start our new life" (RR, Nov 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Rachel

  • Lucy Culpepper - Pyrenees-Atlantique

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    "There are a good number of private and public pre-school facilities such as crèches, and maternelle/kindergartens (up to 3). I have not used them but know of expats who have. There are primary schools in most villages and high schools in the big towns. I’ve yet to be convinced that French education is as good as it is sometimes made out to be! French education is very strict and conformist. Surprisingly there’s very little opportunity for a ‘free-thinking ‘child. Classes are big (30 on average) and teachers seem to make no allowances for a child who is falling behind" (LC, Nov 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Lucy

  • Christina See - Mazamet, Tarn

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    "From France, I love the freedom we have now, the space and the mountains. I love the locals and how everyone says hello to each other still. It’s something we used to have in the UK, but it’s rare to find these days. Warm summers would also be difficult to replace! I would also miss speaking French. There are days when I just don’t want to, but I actually quite enjoy it." (CS Nov 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Christina

  • Nancy Simons - Lot et Garonne

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    "In my experience a pregnant lady doesn’t have much choice as to how they give birth. There was no offer of a birthing pool, and home birth is incredibly hard to achieve, as you need to find a midwife who has adequate insurance. I do know of a couple of people who have done it, but it certainly wasn’t easy and is very much outside the ‘norm’." (NS Nov 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Nancy

  • Christine Greveldinger - Paris

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    "Considering that my husband is French I have never had a problem with meeting people. It is of course very funny as you have some very weird conversations with people (what they think of Americans, America etc) but over all if you accept that the French are different from Americans (in my case) then you can accept them with their faults and qualities. The French are much harder to get to know. I have less French friends in France then I do American friends in America but my French friends are my family. We are very, very close" (CG, Dec 2010)"

    Click here to read the full interview wtih Christine

  • Jane Fraser-Bryan - Dordogne

    "Having spent many years trying to conceive, I then had 4 very intense years within the French health care system undergoing various Fertility procedures, that were all covered within the standard healthcare offered to all people in the French system. The treatment I received was first class, with private rooms in every hospital and clinic I stayed in. Eventually I was successful in becoming pregnant and my pregnancy was followed to an unsurpassable standard" (JB Dec 2010)

    Click here to read a full interview with Jane

  • Michelle Cook - Dordogne

    "The children are completely bi-lingual and love France. I would say, the smallest is more French than she is English. Stewart and I have integrated well and running a French business has been challenging but has helped a great deal. We have good French friends but are also lucky enough to live in an area where we also have a great network of other ex-pats friends and familes." (MC Dec 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Michelle

  • Sarah Jane Lindsay - Paris

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    "...every french person you meet in the street can recite the English irregular verbs but nobody can speak the language ! Re childcare I think it is a bit hit and miss, my daughter loves her creche and we are also really happy with it although the hours are not adapted for professionals ( 7.30am to 6.15 pm) . I have to leave work v early to get my daughter in time. Also there is clearly a shortage of creche and childcare places we were very lucky to get ours. I do know however that compared with the UK it is a lot cheaper here and there are considerable tax breaks" (SJL, Jan 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview wtih Sarah Jane

  • Jennifer Fairbanks - Dordogne

    "The provision of bilingual lessons is highly commended and wonderful for children and adults alike, the children learn their mother tongue in fun ways and get to make new friends too. My daughter has a happy life and I dont think there is anything that could improve it at the moment apart from seeing her Grandparents more frequently." (JF Dec 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Jennifer

  • Kirstie Rowbotham - Dordogne

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    "Don’t talk yourself out of it, there is never going to be a perfect time to make the move and it is difficult at times so be prepared, learn as much of the language as you can, without it you can become very isolated." (KR Dec 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Kirstie

  • Karen Bowen - Dordogne

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    "We visited lots of schools in the area – in the larger ones the children seemed to be left to their own devices a bit more, especially during playtime and the children were a lot more pushy. Poppy is quite shy as she understands that she speaks a different language and can’t talk to people and she just got pushed around and ended up crying for most of our visits. At the Razac D’Eymet school the children and teachers were welcoming straight away and within 5 minutes Poppy was off playing! After her first day all the children were saying goodbye to her and kissing her which was lovely." (KB Dec 2010)

    Click here to read the full interview with Karen

  • Scheenagh Harrington - Castres

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    " We have been getting a new lease of life - we were in a terrible rut in England, but here everyone has been so welcoming and friendly, its hard not to walk around with a smile on your face. The biggest advantages will be for our children though. We - and by default they - have a much better quality of life over here, and the region has so much to do, its almost an embarrassment of riches for them to have a go at" (SH Jan 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Scheenagh

  • Birgit Mehrens- Le Bar sur Loup

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    "The French people are very considerate to pregnant women and the health system is highly rated.
    Priority is given to pregnant women and you will be encouraged to go to the front of queues when in public, which is really nice.
    The locals are all very interested in babies and like to talk to them when we pass by. You might even get advice from a local person, like you baby needs more clothes or I have been told my son should wear sunglasses to protect his eyes. I have been kindly donated some baby shoes by an elderly couple who regularly walk our street"
    (BM, Jan 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview wtih Birgit

  • Laraine Bashford - Entre-deux-Mers (Bordeaux)

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    "Right from the start our neighbours welcomed up and we have intergrated well with everyone, I was married in my village, and my Mayor
    of my village married my husband and I. Bless him, he didnt speak a word of English, and he did the whole service in English, I was
    really surprised, many years later, I asked him if he had help with an English person, he said no, that he took a dictionary and wrote the whole service out himself. Although my French is not brilliant, our closest friends are French, and we take part in most events
    and activities. The other thing is that we have never had an attitude which I have found many Expats have when they come to live in
    France.. we are British, why do we have to do this and that. When you come
    to live in France the rules and regulations and the whole way
    of
    living is completely different to the way you live in the UK, so one has to change otherwise, why bother to come to live in France. When I here some Brits start running the French down, that really makes my blood boil. I really feel like saying, Go Back To England.*/" (LB, Jan 2011)

    Click here to read more

  • Lulu Laporte - Montpellier

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    "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)

    Click here to read more

  • Alice Wright - Limousin

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    "Learn French, and accept that the culture of having a baby is very different here. My experience was that the doctors and midwives found the notion of natural childbirth a bit crazy. Its perhaps better to embrace the French way, if youre planning to have a baby here, than attempt to fight the system" (AW, Feb 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Alice

  • Yasmeen Moore - La Mayenne

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    "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)

    Click here to read the full interviw with Yasmeen

  • Claudia Graf - Alpes Martimes

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    "As a member of the International Community,iInevitably you have contact with other nationalities that keeps a certain multi-nationality aspect to life. With that I hope to instill a wider point of view into my daughter, with greater tolerance for what is different." (CG Feb 2010)

    Click here to read more

  • Sara Plumier - Plelan Le Grand (Brittany)

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    "It´s always been very important for us to have our children integrated into the local culture and environment, I have known a number of friends who went to International schools and felt that they were never truly part of the local community. Plus the local school here is excellent with a strong focus on nature and the environment. I didn´t really see it as an option to send my daughter to a school in Rennes and we have a few friends who are teachers in the public system who turned me against the private one!" (SP, March 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Sara

  • Krisztina Hoffherr - Vence (Cote dAzur)

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    "We were extremely lucky with our neighbours because they welcomed us with warm hearts and open arms! We do get together often for bbqs, get together parties, etc. But I have heard they are not like this normally!" (KH, March 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview wtih Krisztina

  • Keren Sharpe - Bar sur Loup (Cote dAzur)

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    "I have always approached people with a smile and after my initial shyness of trying to speak French I found most people friendly and helpful. I have seen the same parents at school for several years now and still find that my friendly bonjour is totally disregarded by some of them. Well, I suppose that that is universal; there are always people who are reticent to accept outsiders! I do feel apologetic sometimes when I hear of other Brits who dont even try to integrate; again that is a problem that exists everywhere in the world" (KS, March 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Keren

  • Kirstin Barton - Leymen (Alsace)

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    "Children start to read and write later in France than they do in England, but when they do, it is a rapid learning curve. It is quite intense also when they learn grammar, spelling and verbs and there is a lot to learn. There is not as much creative writing work as there is in the UK, but there is a lot of public speaking and learning by heart - which can be challenging at first. From what I observe, I think the system depends on children sitting still and listening hard in a traditional classroom setting, which is not what suits each child. I also think the children have to develop tough skins quite quickly as some of the feedback received is pretty direct! What I like is the frequent evaluation and very clear reporting system so you know exactly where the children need help. There is a recognition that different children need additional support at times, and there is a system for providing this in small groups, which in my experience has been excellent" (KB, March 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Kirstin

  • Linda Alaniz-Hornsby, Biot (near Nice)

    "We have many French friends, however all of them are either married to expats or have traveled and lived abroad" (L A-H, March 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Linda

  • Jacqui Napier - Biot (Near Nice)

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    "My advice would be get out and about as much as possible even if its just the local shops and cafes. Learn the language and try to speak it as much as possible. Doing a gym class or art class in French is a great way to learn whilst having fun. Dont worry about making mistakes or looking stupid and dont give up the first time a French person is rude to you. Some people can be quite abrupt but it can sometimes be more down to cultural differences. A lot of smiling, nodding and waving my hands about seems to work for me. There are a lot more culteral differences than I had realised and I think it is important to accept them rather than fight them. Nothing changes quickly here" (JN, March 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Jacqui

  • Melanie Gulliver - Chateauneuf de Grasse (near Nice)

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    "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)

    Click here to read the full interview with Melanie

  • Caroline Bartley - La Mayenne

    "The locals seem to welcome the influx of Brits better now than they did 20 years ago although we seem to be less of a novelty! They arent impressed by those who come and stay amoungst the Brits and dont make any attempt to mix with the locals and speak the language. Living in La Mayenne is very pleasant, I would never go back to the UK, we have our own land with chickens, horses etc.... Its graet for the kids to be able to go out on their bikes and meet their friends without having to worry about what could happen to them!" (CB. April 2011)

    Click here to read Carolines full story

  • Rosie Quigley - La Mayenne

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    "I had 2 very different experiences – one in La Roche sur Yon with Rio and the other 8 years later with Jasmine in Fougeres. Both were Caesarean section as both were breech.(As was Indie in her Liverpool birth too). I found that while all staff were lovely the pain relief was nowhere near as good as in the UK – on day 2 with Indie I was up and about and after 5 days with Rio I was still in lots of pain and felt very isolated. I have so many feelings about the first experience it’s hard to compare equally, as I did not have a straightforward birth for any of them ! I had lots probs breastfeeding too and the bedside manner of many midwives was a tad ‘get-on-with-it –dear’ and so much advice conflicting, however thats pretty much the same in most countries I’m told so there you go ! On the whole fine, would do it again, no worries.(4 ? what I am thinking…. !)" (RQ, April 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview wtih Rosie

  • Catherine Sharp-Aouchiche - Paris

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    "So much of what we do as parents is culturally informed, and it can be hard not to let the cultural differences/expectations get in the way. For example, attitudes towards breastfeeding, discipline, education. There are some amazing things to do with children in Paris, but since most Parisiennes go back to work much earlier than British women there arent as many activities to do with your children and the impact on your career of having a maternity break is more severe" (CS-A, June 2011)

     

    Click here to read the full interview with Catherine

  • Joanna Page - Paris

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    "Finding a place in a maternity in Paris can be a real nightmare. When I told my Parisian friends I was two months pregnant and did not yet “have” a maternity they literally told me it was too late, and I would probably have to go to the suburbs. Most women in Paris book their maternity before they get pregnant. But as I wanted a natural birth, preferably in water it was absolutely essential for me to go to one of the two, more “gentle birth” orientated maternities “les bluets” or “les lilas” . I was lucky enough to be accepted in “les lilas” (JP, June 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Joanna

  • Caroline Aoustin - Carrières-sur-Seine (Paris)

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    "As I am going to my residency process, they require a linguistics tests, and you actually receive a certificate for fluency. However, they will provide you with language instruction to bring up to par. I have many regrets about not being more committed to learning the language before I came here to live. My basic understanding is pretty good, which gives me a head start but I have a lot to work on" (CA, June 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Caroline

  • Nataliya Shablo - Chambourcy (Paris)

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    "You have great experiences and bad experiences everywhere . before France we lived in the UK, Prague , and also 7 years in Dubai . I would say Dubais family life style is probably uncomparable to anything else ( in a good way ) but then it is a very specific country , with a specific infrastructure in terms of facilities available to you there , so it probably is an exceptional case . among all other countries France is an excellent place for the family , and it is better than being in Prague or UK but I loved every place i lived in.
    I feel that in France/Paris i can give much more to my daughter than i was able in other places ( not in financial terms of course) - its just there is so much more of cultural exposure to a variety of nice things!"
    (NS, June 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Nataliya

  • Isabelle Guyon - Paris

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    "I had my baby at a public maternity ward. Women who give birth in Paris are very lucky to be able to benefit from all the following services at a low cost : "training classes for birth", a rather long stay at the maternity ward after giving birth, perineal reeducation either with a midwife or a physical therapist after birth, free of charge baby follow-up visits at the PMI . Also, there is physical therapy (kiné respiratoire) for babies with respiratory problems (bronchiolites) in the winter time, it really helps . I enjoyed being pregnant and having my baby here. The only drawback I can think of is the long waiting list when you want to see a pediatrician. I ended up going to a MD (médecin généraliste) who is used to take care of babies/children; MDs are less expensive than pediatricians" (IG, July 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Isabelle

  • Vicky Formston - Toulouse

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    "I think that France is a fantastic place to bring up children and thats why we wanted to stay here (originally my husband was just on a 2 year contract). I had Alicia at the Ambrose Paris in Toulouse and found it hard being in the hospital as the mid wives contradicted each other all the time, and I checked myself out after 4 days. But the care I had while I was pregant was amazing, being able to have a scan every 4 weeks was brilliant." (VF, July 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Vicky

  • Tania Ambridge - Maison-Lafitte (Paris)

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    "Main advantages: my kids will grow up with a bigger picture of the world because we are surrounded by different cultures, etc here in Maison-Lafitte Disadvantages: They will never quite experience the english culture in the UK, in the way that my husband and I remember..." (TA, July 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Tania

  • Alison Farley - Rhone-Alpes

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    "For myself and my husband integrating has always been a little harder, not for the lack of willingness or trying.  For my husband it is pronunciation and making himself understood, although he seems to do this better after a glass of red wine! For me I mix perfectly well with my neighbours and the French people at the school gates but there seems a cultural difference that even now after seven years in France is still a barrier.  I like French people, I can speak to French people but still it is easier to make true friends out of those who speak my mother tongue language.  When I socialise with my French neighbours or attend a school function, I join in and all is well but apart from our immediate neighbours with whom we are forming stronger friendships it is hard to form the kind of friendships we might have once made in the UK." (AF, July 2011)

    Click here for interview with Alison

  • Jacqueline Reddin-Williams - Charente Maritime

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    "When I first moved here it was impossible to buy a book in English, and even in the early years of this new century all English books I ordered from Amazon had to come from USA!! I used to commute to work in London (I am an actress) and I always had to take a very expensive BA flight as there was no Eurotunnel and no Easy jet or Ryan Air flights! It is much easier to keep in touch with family & friends now and to access those things we miss - like M&S, cheddar cheese, bacon & tea bags. We were vegetarians when we first moved here and honestly it was impossible to eat in a restaurant and even in the big supermarkets there was no such thing as "BIO" or organic food. For the first year we only had French TV - but I really think this helped us all to speak French. Nowadays it is almost too easy to hardly ever speak French:-( French life has changed of course in the time we have lived here." (JRW, Aug 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Jacqueline

  • Yvonne Halling - Champagne

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    "Most people (but not all) are either champagne producers/grape farmers and their families have been here centuries. However, over the 16 years we’ve been here, I’ve noticed a change in their attitude. At the beginning, they were closed, and not interested in anyone else’s culture. But over the last couple of years, there’s been a distinct increase in their interest in learning English, and I think this has got something to do with the internet. I now teach English in my village because I was asked. This wouldn’t have happened even 5 years ago." (YH, Aug 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Yvonne

  • Valerie Beatson - Paris

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    "Well, we know the difference between the Quick "Giant" and a MacDo "Big Mac" now and I have stopped running out at 7am to beat everyone to the grocery store or dry-cleaners! We are integrated but as an expat it is a challenge to find a balance between your local culture, making french friends, and finding expat activities. I would suggest to anyone moving here to try a bunch of organizations without looking for the perfect one and then see what works for you. And be sure to think about yourself and not just your kids, because socializing will be easier for them" (VB, August 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview wtih Valerie

  • Lise Charlebois-Ludot - Paris

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    "Parisians are often described as aloof, abrupt or even rude, but I think that can all be chalked up to the fact that they are generally very private people. While Ive never had a Parisian neighbour come over and introduce themselves to me, plate of home-baked goods in hand, I can honestly say Ive never had an unpleasant exchange with any of the people I interact with on a daily basis. Every time Ive made the first move, Ive been rewarded for my efforts" (L C-B, Aug 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Lise

  • Sharon Keens-Soper - Brittany

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    "We were one of the very few english here at the time, we were viewed as a bit of a novelty and everyone fell over themselves to befriend us, never had anything negative at all. gradually over the years i have felt the atmosphere change, not so much towards us , but to new arrivals, making it harder and harder for intergration" (SKS, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read Sharon`s story

  • Jill Hamilton-Brice - Paris

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    "I’d say my children are more integrated than I am. They are, of course, French citizens and attend French schools and spend time with my French in-laws. Meanwhile, I have built a nice life here and have a wonderful community of mostly Anglo friends, but I still feel very much like a foreigner and suspect I always will. I check the NY Times over LeMonde most days . That said, I feel like this is where I belong right now. I work in English, too, so I’m sure that doesn’t help. I do have French friends, but I tend to speak English with them more than French" (JHB, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Jill

  • Sharon Molteni-Golomer in Virofly (Versailles)

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    "I think Paris has a lot to offer the International Community. There are a lot of museums, some theatres and cinemas can be enjoyed by expats as many things are in English. The main inconvenience I see among friends is that husband’s long hours often mean expat wives are alone... a lot. It is important to get a network of friends and help going as quickly as possible, but here again, the possibilities are practically endless…the internet being an excellent resource for finding other people like yourself" (SMG, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Sharon

  • Camille Spanjaard

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    "Paris with children is a great experience…. especially when they are older than 4 years old: beside the “must visit” places (such as Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Le Louvre, etc.. ) there are so many activities, workshops, shows etc made for them that you cannot spend a week-end without knowing what to do with the kids. However with babies, Paris is not the most kid-friendly city in the world… but Parisians parents manage very well even without high-chairs or changing mat in each restaurant. Hopefully I can now see some changes to a more baby and child-friendly city…but we need be patient" (CS, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Camille

  • Lonneke Timmerman - Grenoble

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    "I must admit that my children learn a lot, but in general I would say that there is a lack of fun and joy in French schools. School is to work, if you like it or not, and it is not up to the teacher to make things fun to learn. Here I find that the French education could learn a lot from their North-American colleagues" (LT, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Lonneke

  • Rachel Capie - Maubeuge (Nord department)

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    "I think were pretty well integrated, I chat to the neighbours when we meet in the street, they drop round fruit and veg from their gardens from time to time, its a very friendly little cul-de-sac. It took a little while with others, Im pretty shy so its not easy to make the first move especially in a foreign language, but Ive gradually built up casual relationships with other mums at Tillys school, enough to pass the time of day as we wait at the school gates. But I havent yet made any close friends here" (RC, Sep 11)

    Click here to read the full interview with Rachel

  • Jennifer Iddon - Cahors (Le Lot)

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    " Initially I didnt want children, and it was only when I turned 30 that I changed, I guess my body clock kicked in! My ex-husband and I tried for several years and we suffered 4 miscarriages. When we went for tests, they told me it was unexplained infertility despite being able to get pregnant, I couldnt carry them to term. I met my current husband and we decided not to take precautions, with the thinking that although we werent trying for a baby, we werent not trying, so if it happened naturally then fantastic and if not then it wasnt meant to be. We also had one miscarriage a few years ago and then the boys obviously decided it was time to put in an appearance.... I have no idea why or what, but looking at my families histories of only one sex each generation going back several generations, its possible that it is girls I cant carry, the doctors didnt have any answers & now I have my 2 perfect little miracles" (JI, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Jennifer

  • Anne Marsella - Paris

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    "My character Jane Maraconi de la Rochefoucauld is Italian American, lives in the 19th arrondissement near the Communist Party Headquarters, is married to a composer and has a son -- all like me. But the story of what happens to Jane and her family is an invention, entirely. I wanted to paint a picture of Belleville, the colorful neighborhood I’ve lived in for the past 16 years. " (AM, Sep 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview of Paris based author Anne Marsella

  • Leonor Heleno Wielgosz - St Germain en Laye (Paris)

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    "We feel here at home, although we are real expats and have a bit of a barrier when it comes to make French friends. Being half French makes it harder than just being a plain foreigner. I look and speak like French but I am too different for their taste. I am not exotic like a plain Foreigner" (Leo, Oct 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Leonor

  • Amanda Pattinson - Serres et Montguyard (Dordogne)

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    "Long before we moved here we decided to keep my children given their ages in the UK system. We were very fortunate that we found an International School nearby that could provide what the children needed. Davids children have been here for 3 years now and as they were younger when they moved here they went into the French system. Although Davids children are now all doing well, I think they found the change from UK to French a tough one. Lots of people we have met who have moved here with teenagers seem to struggle with the French educational system, in that it doesnt appear to be as user friendly as the UK one. This helped us make the decision to keep my two in a UK recognised system, the only down side, and it is a big down side is that their spoken French is limited, which makes is difficult for them to mix with their French peers" (AP, October 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Amanda

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  • Amanda Stone - Grenoble

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    "My first two children were born in the UK. The third here in France and that was quite a shocking contrast to my British experience. The system here is very medicalised and nothing is left to chance. The assumption is that you will have an epidural, then the birth is managed with scary precision by what seemed to be the cranking up of a drip. Each of the 5 babies born that night came in turn and as my turn arrived a nurse came in, turned a knob on the drip and said, "ok, your turn now"! I kid you not. The aftercare was similar with scary nurses young enough to be my daughter telling me off if I demand fed. It was clear they did not like the breast feeding thing but found themselves living in changing times and seemed to be having to make uncomfortable adjustments. I was obliged to stay in hospital for 9 days because my son had not put on enough weight (a matter of grammes - I can assure you he was FINE). I was so shocked by this regime" (AS, October 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Amanda

  • Helen Saks - Toulouse

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    "Finding work in Toulouse as a foreigner isn’t easy so I decided to be pro-active. I set up two associations, one to teach english to kids, another teaching swimming, and both were a success. Typically though as I was launching my english association, I was offered a job in communications at Airbus, so I was juggling for the first year (good practice for things to come!) I managed the internal magazine at Airbus until the birth of my first daughter.
    As a Mum, I decided to work part time to my own schedule, rather than being chained to a desk, so I started working with Usborne Books in 2009. It has been the ideal job for me in so many ways, with a ton of potential, for when I eventually get a bit more time to move the business forward"
    (HS, October 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Helen

  • Caroline Bombarde - Midi-Pyrennées

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    "The life here is full of beautiful countryside and weather, warm and friendly people, pretty towns and buildings nestling in the hills with spectacular views of the Pyrenees and Montagnes Noires. It can be gobsmacking at times, driving back from school I can be treated to a wonderful view of sky and mountains; the other day I was doing an errand with my daughter and we stopped the car and got out just to enjoy the magnificence of the view. Its a privilege to live surrounded by such beauty and I think it impacts on us all giving the children a sense of the world they live in that you just cant cultivate in a scruffy suburb on the outskirts of nowheresville. The birds, flowers and animals are much more exotic than in England with orchids, eagles and lots of different things to catch the eye. The pace is slow and lunch time is sacrosanct. Just down the road is Toulouse, a beautiful little town with a comfortably sophisticated feel" (CB, November 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Caroline

  • Paula Swift - Le Lot et Garonne

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    "Relocating was relatively easy, adjusting was hard. It was most diffitcult for Josh who was 12 at the time. Initially, he missed his friends in the UK dreadfully, most of whom he had known since nursery school. The first year of Collège was very challenging but he ultimately made some good friends there. I did wonder during that first year if we`d done the right thing as French taught at school in the UK in no way prepares the child for the level of French required to learn at school in France. The teaching methods are very different, too. For Jake and Alice, who were 9 and 2 respectively at the time, it was much easier as younger children are naturally more adaptable and learning the language happens almost by osmosis for them" (PS, November 2011)
     

    Click here to read the full interview with Paula

  • Pippa Curtis - Briancon (French Alps)

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    "When I first became a mom people asked me But isnt it tough being a single mom? to which I would laugh and say This is easy compared to the adoption process in the UK! In the UK the system is obstructive, incompetent and unnecessarily slow. Ive learnt that adoption in France, whilst not easy, is very much more the norm and you are not treated as a problem for wanting to adopt as you are in the UK. Here in France adoption is seen as a normal way to make a family. Unlike the UK I am never asked here Why or how did you adopt?. People, if they ask, just ask what age was she when you get her? or what is her original country?, there is no mystery around the process or reasons for adopting" (PC, November 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Pippa

  • Ilona Laver - Perpignan

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    "The system is very different here, very thorough and personal. I stayed in hospital for 4 days, (like a little holiday!) and returned home a little more rested than with my previous two children. You have to go to various different places for blood tests, midwife and gyno but all is clear and well organized" (IL, November 2011)

    Click here to read more

  • Louise Sayers - Perpignan

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    "I appreciated not being turfed out of hospital as soon as my babies were born and had four days to recover with nurses on hand to help if required, although sometimes the advice was conflicting and confusing and breastfeeding support was non-existent. Once I left hospital I was very much left to my own devices – you don’t get a health visitor here to ask all those stupid questions. I felt quite isolated when the children were very young as I could not find any baby and toddler groups to meet other mums, although I believe some have now started up in the area." (Nov 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Louise

  • Helen Wilkinson - Creuse

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    "It has been a long journey, she has been in hospital for 153 nights, with a couple of breaks since March of this year, she had 3 rounds of intensive chemotherapy first then she had a bone marrow transplant. For the chemotherapy she was in the secteur protege, which means in a room where everything is clean and only 2 people are allowed in at any time in hospital blues and masks. She was then in a bubble for 3 weeks, which is basically a bed with a plastic cocoon all around it and the only way you can touch your child is via these huge black gloves, as she was completely cut off from us all in a totally sterile environment" (HW, December 2011)

    Click here to read the full interview with Helen

  • Wendy Blakeman - Charente Maritime

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    "It is an advantage being a foreigner when it comes to gossip and local discord ! I speak to and am friendly with everyone, whereas it is quite obvious there are cliques that do not have anything to do with each other based on some ancient history - I think I get away with it because Im a foreigner, whereas a French person is expected to take sides.
    It is a slight disadvantage not being completely fluent - I sometimes miss the nuances of a conversation, particularly when a lot of people are all chatting at once (or gossipping about each other !!)"
    (WB, Feb 2012)

    Click here to read the full interview with Wendy

  • Emma Nelson - Toulouse

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    "I found the quality of care during the births themselves to be second-to-none. Fantastic midwives, very caring and capable. The midwives accompanied me through the labour itself and the obstetrician only got called right at the end when the baby was about to appear, or in the case of my first, because he was refusing to appear! This didnt strike me as completely fair. The midwives did all the work but he got all the glory! Having said all that, this wasnt the case for the birth of my second child which involved a pretty tough labour, brilliantly managed by a wonderful midwife called Veronica. When the doctor arrived at the eleventh hour ready to do his stuff, he asked me if I wanted Veronica to deliver Sam seeing as shed been doing such a great job. I said yes and Sam was duly delivered!
    Based on my experience, it seems to be much more ‘medicalised’ than in the UK. Not sure the midwives at my clinic would have known what a birthing pool was! This didn’t particularly bother me coz I’m all up for ‘managed pain’ involving lots of drugs but I can see how the set up wouldn’t appeal to everybody. They also seem to like you to give birth lying down with your legs up in stirrups - at least that’s what I had to do! The only frustrating part was the many and varied (and occasionally, forcefully put) opinions of the different midwives who came by in the days following the births, at various times of the day and night, to give me completely contradictory advice about breastfeeding. Not overly helpful! I dont think the clinic I was in had a hugely pro-breastfeeding policy. The midwives I encountered were quite quick to push a bottle in my hand when things didn’t go according to plan.
    I was lucky that my Mutuel covered the cost of a private room and I would highly recommend that! As I understand it, there are no wards in French hospitals. It’s single or double rooms only I believe, so you’ll never be packed in with a load of screamy newborns, but if you can get a private room, then do so! On each occasion, I found myself sharing with another new mum for the first night, then got transferred to a private room the next morning. They kept me in for four days I think after each birth, which possibly wouldn’t suit everyone but didn’t bother me. The quality of the food in my clinic was pretty good and frankly I was enjoying being cooked for and cleaned up after!
    " (EN, Feb 2012)

    Click here to read the full interview with Emma

  • Sara Meade - Ramonville St-Agne (Toulouse)

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    "Being a ‘quiet observer’ myself (in terms of my personality) I was very happy to patiently watch and wait, and for friendships to develop with the local people naturally. And they did, but slowly. People were very curious to know why we were in France (when many of them considered New Zealand to be paradise). Our French neighbours were wonderful - lending us cutlery and crockery the minute we stopped our car outside the house.  We attended the English-speaking Anglican Church in Minimes, Toulouse in order to have a safe haven of English speakers to connect with, and that was an invaluable source of contact and community to start with. Children’s birthday parties were also a fabulous way to invite French parents into your home too, and we quickly found that many of them spoke the most beautiful (if hesitant) English. We always tried to speak in French first though and that helped a lot" (SM, Feb 2012)

    Click here to read the full interview with Sara

  • Alison Robin-Hood - La Haute Savoie

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    "I was 21, doing boring jobs in England and thought that there had to be more to life than growing up, working, getting married and finishing my life in the same place. I had spent my childhood holidays in the area and thought to myself… hey, why dont I go to France… and off I went. I was an au-pair looking after children as I didnt really speak French, it was the only opportunity available to me" (A R-H, March 2012)

    Click here to read the full interview with Alison

  • Kimberly Celse - Mulhouse (Alsace)

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    "Ive found that many people understand English but are shy about speaking. As a teacher, its important for me to understand the culture of my students and I believe its a myth that the French are being rude about their reluctance to speak. The French like to do things well and have a lot of pride so its often the case that theyre afraid to make mistakes in speaking" (KC, June 2012)

    Click here to read the full interview with Kimarie

  • Tiffany Butler - Maisons Laffitte

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    "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)

    Click here to read the full interview with Tiffany

  • Claire Almond-Jones - Meribel

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    "We relocated permanently when Noah was 18 months, although we did do a trial run when he was 9 months old for 6 months. As he was so young we didn`t have to worry about school or language difficulties as he wasn`t at that stage, we did find childcare an issue here through, as the creche was over subscribed and we were put on the waiting list, and stayed there until he was 3 and starting at the Maternelle. This was a massive issue for us as my husband and I really wanted him to gain some experience of being away from us and the French language, but when there is nothing you can do , you get on with it. Luckily over the past few years the creche has merged with other creches in the area and is being managed by one central office and other parents are not having the same issues we had" (CA-J, July 2012)

    Click here to read the full interview with Claire

  • Claire Mallalieu - Beauville (Toulouse)

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    "Coming out at 7 months pregnant I missed all pre-natal classes but was given a tour of the hospital facilities etc. beforehand.  I chose to have both babies induced (with an epidural) and when Alexander was born I had the consultant gynecologist, pediatrician and mid-wife all present.  I then spent the next five days in an individual en-suite room in hospital being taught one on one how to care for my baby.  Whilst in hospital I was visited by a social worker who helped me get all my paperwork sorted, writing letters for me etc. (I hadn’t yet received my social security card!)" (CM, Jan 2013)

    Click here to read the full interview with Claire

  • Penelope Sadoudi - Toulouse

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    "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)

    Click here to read the full interview with Penelope

  • Lolita Derbyshire - Paris

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    Lolita was born in Papua New Guinea but grew up in Brisbane, Australia. After university, she moved to London to work then relocated to Paris where she discovered Zumba. "After the birth of Ilan, I returned to the gym and tried Zumba for the first time.  I knew immediately that it would be my method of shedding baby weight.  Having being a sportswoman for most of my life, I was impatient to return to my former shape. I couldnt stop talking about Zumba - the music, the moves, the energy. It was all me!" (LD, Jan 2014)

    Click here to read the full interview with Lolita

  • Helen Bates - Cannes

    "We are extremely happy with the French education system. The creche / halte garderie that our boys went to was fantastic and we have no complaints about the maternelle or primary schools either. There are quite a lot of differences in the schooling methods from England but so far the boys are thriving."

    Click here to read more