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

Interviews

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)

  • Interview with Lorna Bode

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in St Germain?
    Lorna Bode 44, I have lived in Saint Germain en Laye for 6 months.

    What nationality are you and your partner?
    English and Dutch

    How many children do you have and what are their names and ages?
    Nathan is 7 and Alma is 3

    Do you work and if so what do you do?
    Not at the moment. I am doing voluntary work for the Parents Association.

    How well integrated would you say you and your children are?
    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.

    What language do you speak to your children?
    English and a little French

    What is your impression of childcare and education in St Germain so far?
    There seems to be a huge choice of French nurseries, bilingual nurseries and international
    English speaking schools. The Lycee Internationale is a highly sought after state school
    which provides an education in French with additional teaching in a number of foreign
    languages English, Dutch, Spanish, German and an American section. A number of private and public schools offer partially bi-lingual programmes.

    What school do your children go to?
    The Forest International School in Mareil Marly - just outside Saint Germain en Laye

    Why did you choose this school and are you happy with your choice?
    I chose this school because our children had already been living and were educated in Spain so had a number of foreign languages already. I wanted them to have the opportunity to be taught in small groups in English. The school follows the International Primary Curriculum and teachers are able to teach in a very creative and interactive way. It is in a villa on the edge of the forest so the children work and play outside a lot. It is a school which has a real family atmosphere, which is great for children who have experienced change. I am happy with my choice but there is no secondary option for the children. So eventually if we stay the children will go to French school with an integration programme.

    Where you live, how good are the facilities for children (shops, restaurants, activities etc)?
    Excellent facilities for sports and activities in French. A large choice of shops and services for children. Some restaurants are well organised for children. (eg.Hippopotamus). Creperies are always a hit with the children.

    Are there any particular activities, groups, classes etc for children in St Germain that you would like to recommend?
    Tennis coaching at La Clef a cultural centre.

    Are there any particular service providers (doctors, dentists, babysitters, tutors etc) for children in St Germain that you would like to recommend?
    There is the English Medical Centre which is always a good place to start. I always use Message Paris which is an excellent resource for information.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the
    International Community living in St Germain?

    The advantages are that there is a large English speaking community. A lot of bi-lingual
    children, and people are pretty accepting of you as a foreigner.

    Is there anything you think would improve children’s lives in St Germain?
    Perhaps more indoor play areas. Truely bi-lingual schools. French schools are not necessarily easy for non-English speaking children.

    What advice would you give for anyone thinking of relocating to St Germain with children?
    Be sure that you have a good income it is the most expensive town outside of Paris I think. Make sure that you visit some of the schools. French teaching style is quite different from those found in other European countries. Conformity and competition are valued highly. Creativity and individuality less so.

    What couldn´t you live without in St Germain?
    Money, markets and restaurants.

    What could you live without in St Germain?
    Rather bourgeois attitude towards life and others. Slightly elitest ambiance.

    (Oct 2010)