A new startStarting over in a new country can be daunting especially with
children but for two families life is better than ever and they have
never looked back !
WORDS: HELEN HOLBROOK I PHOTO: SARAH HUDSON-VERNON
EN YEARS AGO, SHARON AND JAMES SCOTT HAD
busy lives in London. Both with demanding jobs -
James investment banking in the city, Sharon dealing with the pressures
of public relations.
"We wanted a family and a different way of life,"
Sharon explains. "We could have carried on, spent our lives
commuting and juggling childcare. It wasn't for us!"
Ever practical, they bought a campervan and toured
Europe for six months to check out alternatives. "We kept
coming back to France, we'd both holidayed here and, being
country-bred, it just felt 'right'. "
Four years later, they'd married, had their first child,
Isabella, and Sharon was heavily pregnant with their son.
"James found a house here while we settled and I had a
great first experience of French healthcare at the wonderful
little hospital where Sebastian was born."
Their lives in France are now well established. James
works as a statistical analyst at home while Sharon is in media marketing.
"We bought land and built our own eco-home, we live
in a lovely village and our children are doing really well at
school where they've lots of friends. They're bilingual and
reading in both languages by the ages of six and eight. We
hope they'll go right through the French education system
to tertiary level."
Enrolling the children into school was simple - a visit to
the local Mairie and everything was arranged. "We're able
to be really involved with all their activities. Perhaps best
of all is the wonderful safe environment here. I'm saddened
by friends' concerns about safety back in the UK - we don't
have to lock the door while we're outside in the garden!"
Assimilation into their local community happened quickly.
"We took French lessons to build on what we learned at
school, we considered it important and, when we come to
getting our French citizenship we'll need to demonstrate our
Vanessa and Tony Brown have had first hand experience
of tertiary education here. They moved to France when their
children were 9 and 14 years old. Vanessa says they too
were looking for more for their family. "Tony's brother already
lived happily in France and we decided to take a year,
bring the boys over and give them the experience of living
in another culture."
First step was to enrol the boys in local schools."They'd
never learned French but by the end of the year Conor was
almost bilingual and Richard's language skills were improving rapidly
thanks partly to his girlfriend! Tony was working,
we bought a property and never looked back."
Vanessa says she first learned French by volunteering at
the nearby Red Cross. She then found herself a role running
the local post office for two villages and the rest, she says,
"Both our boys got their baccalaureate with 'mentions',
Richard has a Business Management degree and is teaching
in Denmark, while Conor is studying electrical engineering.
The opportunities the boys have here, compared to the Isle
of Wight where we lived, bear no comparison. Education and
lifestyle are excellent and tertiary education free."
Both couples are emphatic there's no moving back as
France is now home!
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