"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)
What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Viroflay?
Sharon Molteni-Golomer, 41, I’ve lived in Viroflay since Oct 2010.
Why did you decide to move there?
We moved here after ten years abroad, in US and China as expats. We wanted to buy in Paris but with our budget and our desire for a quieter environment, we choose Viroflay. Also, it was very convenient for my husband to get to work on public transport. He only has a 15min commute.
What nationality are you and your partner?
I have dual British/ French nationality and my husband is French.
How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
We have a daughter Emilia, she is 2.5years old and was born Mar 1st 2009.
Do you work and if so what do you do?
I am a stay-at home Mum.
What was your experience of having a baby/babies in Viroflay/Paris?
We adopted our daughter while in China, so I have not any experience of having children in Paris.
What was your experience of relocating to Paris with children?
Relocating to Paris was not too difficult. Emilia was still little. And although I would have liked her to go to a crèche for a few hours a week, we were not eligible as I don’t work.
How well integrated would you say you and your child(ren) are?
I lived and worked in Paris for five years before we became expats, and I had always wanted to live in France after studying here for a year for my university degree. The fact that I speak the language and had made a conscious decision to make France my home, meant that for the most part I feel fully integrated. Emilia seems at home here, although at two, home is where your parents are.
What language do you speak to your daughter?
Currently she doesn’t speak any language, just a few words and those are just about intelligible as English.
Do you rent or own a property and how did you find the renting/buying process?
We own two properties and found the process for both very straightforward, but no doubt because there isn’t a language barrier. We have a very good notaire/notary (this is essential), and we used our notaire/notary for both acquisitions. It is classic for both parties (buyer and seller) to use the vendor’s notary, they are supposed to be impartial but I would always advise people to use their own.
Do you think it essential for someone to speak French when relocating to Paris?
I think speaking the language always helps enormously. I didn’t speak Mandarin when I moved to China, so the first months were hard. We had to ask for a lot of help but once I’d learned to speak everyday Chinese, my life became so much easier.
How welcoming have the Parisians been towards you and your family?
I came (based on my former experience living in Paris) with the expectation that it would be hard to make friends but I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly the French Mum’s in my residence have been. But I have more affinity with my Anglo-Saxon friends.
How would you describe a typical Parisian?
Paris is not an easy city to live and work in- people work long hours and are always in a hurry to get to work, to drop the kids off, to pick them up. It all means Parisians are often stressed and have a (general) desire to save face, to not appear to be wrong, and the pressure of ingrained social codes of behaviour, can make them appear to the self-deprecating Anglo-Saxons as arrogant and aloof.
What is your impression of childcare and education in Viroflay?
Viroflay is a relatively wealthy suburb and very family friendly. The facilities are good and my friends seem content with the education their children are receiving. Emilia is still small so apart from the swimming pool, she is too young to take advantage of some of the sporting and recreational activities on offer. France is quite family oriented, so I think most restaurants are accepting of well-behaved children, even if strollers are seen as a bother.
What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Paris?
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.
Is there anything you think would improve childrens lives where you live?
I would think a coffee shop where Mum’s could meet, sit and have a cup of tea together would be great here but it doesn’t exist sadly.
What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Paris with children?
If relocating with older children, just do your research. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before you leave. Know where the doctor is and have the phone number all ready. Contact schools in advance. This information safety net can help you quickly gain control of your new life, and help alleviate the feeling of being lost.
What couldnt you live without in Viroflay?
I couldn’t live without the forest. I love having nature on my doorstep. I love the quiet and I love the amazing rail links into Paris.
What could you live without in Viroflay?
I could live without the graffiti, and men urinating on street corners (esp bus drivers). People driving too fast round our narrow streets that are full of kids.