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

Interviews

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)

  • Interview with Michelle Cook

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in France?
    Michelle Cook and 8 ½ years

    Whereabouts in France do you live?
    Serres et Montguyard, Dordogne 24500

    What nationality are you and your partner?
    British

    How many children do you have and what are their names and ages?
    3 children, Harry, Emily and Isabelle (9,7,5)

    Do you work and if so what to you do?
    Gerante of Classic French Homes – Estate agency specializing in the sale and holiday rental of Prestige Property in the Dordogne, Gironde and Lot-et-Garonne. I particularly deal with the holiday rental of Chateaux and Manoir in this beautiful area of South West France.

    What was your experience of having a baby in France? (if relevant)
    Excellent. 100% better than the UK. The same Dr throughout and the after-care was incredible. I was a bit shocked when there was no air and gas but as I did not want an epidural I am proud to say it was a completely natural childbirth!

    What was your experience of relocating to France with children? (if relevant)
    It has been very easy. The French have been extremely welcoming and open.

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

    What language do you speak to your children?
    English although we are trying to have meal where we speak French so that the kids can help us with our accents and grammar!!

    What is your impression of childcare and education in France so far?
    Absolutely brilliant. The crèche was fantastic for the kids and enabled them to integrate from an early age. They all love school and are getting on well. We also send them to BEE which is an English school on a Wednesday morning as we feel it is important that they also retain their English culture and are able to read and write in English.

    What school do your children go to?
    Notre Dame in Eymet. which although is French School, is very open to the mixed culture in and around this area and has a number of lessons in English as well. As an English mother, I also teach the French children English for an hour a week which I hope is giving something back to the community we live in.

    Why did you choose this school and are you happy with your choice?
    Notre Dame is French School but is also very open to the mixed culture in and around this area and has a number of lessons in English as well. As an English mother, I teach the French children at Notre Dame, English for an hour a week which I hope is giving something back to the community we live in. The young French children who have been receiving these lessons for the last three years are incredible and although not fluent, have a huge understanding of the language.

    Where you live, how good are the facilities for children (shops, restaurants, activities etc)?
    We are a few minutes from the bustling town of Eymet which has shops, restaurants and bars. In the main, these stay open throughout the year unlike many French villages.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the international community living in France?
    A bit deep…….. We have been here since our eldest was 18 months so have no real experience of children at school in the UK but in my opinion that has to be the huge advantage in that you are not worrying about schools and league tables. Disadvantage is that I know there will come a time when they gabble in French so quickly that I cannot understand the plan they are hatching. Actually it already happens when I am doing the taxi run with an Espace full of their friends!!

    Is there anything you think would improve children’s lives in France?
    No!

    What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to France with children?
    Do it as soon as possible whilst the children are as young as possible as it must get harder the older the children are. That said, I know of families arriving with children as old as 10 and 11 and they still fit in and are bi-lingual within a year!

    What couldn’t you live without in France?
    UK Television……in particular Strictly Come Dancing and Merlin for the kids!

    What could you live without in France?!
    The strikes and paperwork!

    (MC Dec 2010)