"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)
What is your name, age and how long have you lived in La Mayenne?
My name is Rose, I’m the wrong side of 35 and Ive lived in the mayenne for 4 years
Why did you move there?
Initially due to my husband managing an outdoor activity centre here, but also because we missed France too much and wanted to return as we’d lived in France previously also 10 years ago.
What nationality are you and your partner? How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born? Do you work and if so what do you do?
We are both English. We have 3 kids, Rio, nine, Indie, seven and Jasmine (aka Jaja Binks) 19months. Rio and Jaja were both born in France (one in the Vendee and one in Brittany !) and Indie was born in Liverpool like her Mum. She insists she is officially a scouser but without the accent.
We are both teachers, my husband in a Lycee and myself , I taught adults and children ; however I recently returned to my guilty pleasure, facepainting - which I did back in the UK. It’s so much more rewarding than teaching grammar !
Do you buy or rent your home in La Mayenne? How did you find the process?
We bought our home here, and found the process easy enough ; our estate agent was lovely which helped. Luckily it was ready to move into more or less so no hitches really. We have rented in France a while back, in 4 properties in total and to be honest it can be more of a hassle paperwork wise than buying ! The onus is much more on the tenant as opposed to landlord to sort things out with the property, e.g. a broken boiler etc. That said, tenants have more rights than in the UK – they cannot be evicted in winter by law for example.
What was your experience of having a baby/babies in La Mayenne ?
Oh long stories ! 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…. !)
What was your experience of relocating to La Mayenne with children? (if relevant)
Easy, kids fitted in fine at school, which was small so helped.
Would you do things differently if you did it again?
Hindsight is great , but I really don’t know. Somethings happen for a reason.
How well integrated would you say you and your children are?
Children, totally. Us, yes, it depends how you define ‘integration’. As parents with small kids we dont tend to get out much in the evenings anyway, but we are invloved in the school and have lots of Franch and English friends. To be honest, when we lived for 2 years in the Lake District we found it was less friendly and harder to get to know locals there (and living on a culdesac) that it has been here – even with a different culture and language.
What is your impression of childcare and education in La Mayenne?
Childcare – great, can’t fault it. Education – depends on the school, but I wish more focus was given to the arts. Tiny mixed level village schools are not without their disadvantages, but then I went to school in a comp with 900 kids so that had it’s moments too. I think a good teaching staff are pivotal to any school.
What school(s)/nursery(ies) do your children go to?
Chialland ecole Publique
Why did you choose this school/these schools and are you happy with your choice?
Nearest, and, to be honest, not really ! (internal politics during last 3 years to blame)
How would you describe a typical local living in La Mayenne?
Peaceful, relaxed and quiet.
How have the locals welcomed the influx of Brits over the last few years?
There isnt really an influx near to us
How do most people earn a living in the area?
Industry in Laval and farming really.
What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in La Mayenne?
Advantages - Kudos in the playground – all the other kids love hearing a real ‘foreigner !’ Disadvantages feeling not totally accepted but then that can go for French people not from the mayenne too. Parisiens are just as foreign as English here !
Is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
A playground in the village, without doubt. And a pool that I can use with my baby/toddler together during school hours – between 5 and 7 in the evening is so NOT helpful ! Schools don’t use the pools ALL the term time, and especially the baby pool for example in Aquabulle. Someone would make a fortune offering baby/mum swim sessions in the mornings mon –fri.
Do you have any recommendations for children`s activities, family-friendly restaurants, day-trips, shops or services in La Mayenne?
The Parc Perrine in Laval is great – mini zoo, play ground, lovely views over the Mayenne river. The trees are amazing and great for little ones to wonder at. Also the Lake in Fougeres (ok not strictly Mayenne but borders blur) is brilliant. Can’t recall its name, but its in the Zone de loisirs de Chenedet in the forest north of Fougeres. It has a sandy beach, a play area, safe cordonned area for swimming, clear water with little fish to nibble toes, a jetty for older ones to dive off, plus there’s the circuit of the forest path that meanders around the lake, with keep fit apparatus to have a laugh on. Cant actually manage to actually complete any of the excersises….
The Chinese restaurant opposite Jardiland in Laval is great with kids – the buffet a volonte M-F is brilliant value at a tenner a head or so, and my kids adore the fish in the floor that swim beneath the table – plus of course a volonte dessert is always a winner. And so much nicer than Mc Do who have abandoned their ‘healthy’ options in Happy Meals no more cherry toms and carrot sticks . The lovely staff in the Etoile de Bonheur (I think it’s called that) dont mind my little ones crawling amongst Jaja’s carpet of flung noodles and prawn crackers and the atmosphere is busy and accomodating – and they get a hot flannel, a free lollipop and year of the something or other calender at the end, which is better than a balloon on a stick. Well, they think it is anyway !
What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to La Mayenne with children?
Go for it ! And learn to live with nothing open on Sundays, it forces you to relax and explore, go for bike rides along the brilliant flat river path, spend all day having lunch, and spend every Sunday like youre on holiday. Well we try to anyhow.
What couldn´t you live without in La Mayenne?
The rivers. And the view from our terrace across the valley into the forest of mayenne ; there’s so much still to explore !
What could you live without in La Mayenne?
Crap markets selling overpriced outdated tat, or outrageously overpriced food. I would gladly support my local suppliers more, but France should be lobbying it’s big 2 supermarkets more to give farmers a better deal. It shouldnt be up to us to pay so much at a market it becomes unaffordable (with 3 kids to feed itheres just no way), but its just not fair farmers are paid peanuts for their produce like dairy and meat at the moment. Sarkozy should get heavy with the grand surfaces. Ah, but don’t get me started on politics !!