Print Posted By Lost in France on 13 Dec 2011 in Real France - Expat Interviews

Living and working in Grenoble

Stuart and his family moved to France in 1996, they live in Grenoble where Stuart works as an IT consultant.

GrenobleWhat made you move to France and how long have you lived here?
Good question. When I was still a bachelor (that far back) Europe was still coming together in our hearts and minds too and I wanted to get some French and German on my c.v. as a good ‘new European' so I got a job in Paris and lived with a French family for 5 years (the plan had been 2).

Many years later I was offered an IT project in Grenoble and my wife fell in love with Grenoble and insisted we stay. So we have now been here since 1996 and the kids are nearly grown up. And bilingual.

Which part of France do you live in, and what's it like to live there?
We live in Grenoble in the French Alps and there is no doubt that the ‘amenagement de territoire' is much better than back home. We live in the city centre, which is a boon, and it has been good. Financially ruinous but good.

Do you have children, if so how easy was it for them to adjust to a French school?
We have 3 children, 6, 5 and 2 when we came. They had a struggle in the beginning. It was particularly hard on the eldest who was thrown straightaway into CP and had a teacher who did not see it as her job to inculcate French and civilisation into English children. But they all succeeded and ploughed their way up and through the system. Living in the city centre they went to the top lycée here - we stuck to the heart of the Franco-French system and the idée republicaine although we were regularly advised to move the kids to a lycée that taught in English (but we speak English already we explained).

Open quote. Interviewee gives their moving to France tips Our worst mistake was NOT buying in France... Close quote

What is your age?
I'm old.

Where were you born?
I was born in Leicester.

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
I was and am a chartered accountant, practising then in Eastbourne, but faced with the need to make a living based in the French Alps I have become more of a self-employed IT consultant and interim manager. I tried very hard over a long period of time to find real work here near Grenoble but failed, to my surprise, so am still self-employed.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
Our worst mistake was NOT buying in France - I thought initially my wife's craze would abate after a year or two but it never has and so we still pay rent - to my great chagrin. My bachelor flat in Paris pays our rent in Grenoble.

Your best tip or advice to other people considering moving to France?
Think carefully, try it out first, don't be naive.

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
I had had 5 years practice before I came ‘with the wife and kids' so knew my way around. Or felt I did. I never stop learning but by and large we have managed well.

What's the best thing about living in France?
Quality of life, ‘amenagement du territoire', leisure opportunities, proximity to famous places, bilingual children, solid education system, human doctors, good health service, food, drink, still a good sense of civism and personal morality here ...

And the worst?
Same sort of brown stuff as everywhere, particularly at the moment with governments desperate for money.

What do you think?

Join Our Newsletter - Today