Living in France – From Leicester to Brittany, Nicky of Nantes Tells Us Why France Is A Great Place To Be

France had always felt like home to Nicky, right from her early childhood holidays there. Now she lives with her two daughters in an idyllic village near Nantes. 

1. Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Leicester in the UK, where I was born but also lived in Oxford and Nottingham

2. Where do you live now?

I live in France, in Nantes, just south of Brittany near the Atlantic coast.

3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?

We moved to Nantes as my now ex husband (french) got a job here, we had never been here before, so a new and pleasant discovery. It was always a dream for me to come to France, I was very drawn to here since an early age after various holidays, it felt like home to me. No we hadn’t lived anywhere else apart from the UK.

As for the house we moved into a the time it was the right size and sitaution for our children. When we divorced 2 years ago I found my current home by chance, it was the first one I looked at-and liked.

4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?

I now live in rented accomodation as I can’t afford to buy being a single mother, its a small home with a large open garden overlooking fields and a bridlepath, on the edge of a small village within easy distance of nantes. I don’t intend to stay here but move nearer to my daughters’ schools where I know everyone. My ideal place to live? A renovated old property that’s contempory in style on the inside. near to amenities and life- I like to be able to walk to get my warm baguette in the morning!!

5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?

I speak French which I loved at school. My ex husband was my live-in teacher with who I always spoke french. I am now bilingual.

6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?

Whilst my business builds I work as an English trainer in order to pay the bills.

My own business is Colour Vie Harmony ( -I harmonize, energize and inspire through Life Coaching for expats and colour analysis (finding the colours that make you look fabulous). For these activities I work from home.For colour analysis I go to the clients home so that we can work on her wardrobe and I get a feel for her personality and lifestyle. For Coaching I use Skype so that I can coach all over the world. My clients are so far from the US, the UK, France (expats) and Spain. I am thinking about bringing in weight management coaching at some point- working on the emotions behind weight problems. I am also a facilitator for First Rate Fx- helping clients transfer money between countries without paying bank charges, and having the best rates. This is not my main business but a sideline.

7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?

Yes I work on line through Skype – I have no problems with connectivity which is great.

Apart from that no real software apart from basic internet sites. Top tip ? Not sure. If Skype goes down I use online messaging.

8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?

I’m paid in euros. For big money transfers I would use First Rate FX every time – personal service, great exchange rates and no charges. I am a facilitator for them.

9. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?

My life has changed so much since being here and since my divorce.  I would not have got where I am now I am sure.

I find the endless strikes totally unbearable, annoying and somewhat selfish. the French need to put everything in ‘boxes’ so if it can’t fit in a box it doesn’t exist for example to have your own business it needs a code, this code is found in a long list of types of work, my work doesn’t exist in this code, so I am an “other” ! it’s very hard for them to think laterally, take initiative which stems probably from the school education ( see later). There isn’t this freedom of spirit and be who you want to be like in the UK. which gives rise to fear of standing out from the crowd. They have a reputation for arrogance however I think this stems from pride- of their language, culture, food, and country wish to want to preserve. They’re a very wary nation which maybe due to the many wars they fought between regions (True France originally was only around Paris- L’Isle de France, the regions around the rest of france were like mini countries) hundreds of years ago so you could never trust your neighbour. The French take time to make friends, it can take years to call your neighbor by their first names or be invited into their home but when they do it’s very sincere and true.

10. What are the best things about living in your new country?

The food of course! They have the ability to make a picnic look like a banquet. The respect for each other especially the children towards adults. Children always say “bonjour Madame” if they cross you in the street. The regional differences – in housing, food, customs- it’s like having mini-Frances in one country.

11. What are the most challenging things about living in your new country?

The endless strikes which is just unbearable and totally selfish. The French need to put everything in ‘boxes’ If it can’t fit in a box it doesn’t exist, it’s very hard if not impossible for them to think laterally, take initiative, feel freedom.. The fear of standing out from the crowd and their arrogance which stems from pride- of their language, culture, food, and country. They’re a very wary nation which may come from the many wars they hard between regions hundreds of years ago- you could never trust your neighbour. The French take time to make friends but when they do it’s very sincere and true.

12. Are you here for good? If so, why? If not, why not?

I used to say yes, now I’m not sure – who knows whats round the corner. I have some long terms plans which I’d rather not unveil yet, but yes, long term I’ll be looking to other horizons.

13. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?

I have 2 daughters aged 13 and 10. At the time of the move they were just 3 years and 6 weeks! It was hard for my eldest- she’d just had a new sister, had attended a cosy, loving nursery, and was thrown into a very cold school in France (they start at 3 here!!!!!) with a language she could understand but couldn’t speak. Within 3 months she was bilingual. For both they rarely spoke English at home until we divorced and mine became the English home. Also doing English at school, though boring for them at first, allowed them to realize they have something special which gave them confidence. They now speak more, and read well in English. I’ve never forced them but allowed it to be a pleasure and fun. I personally disagree with the French schooling in the way that lessons are learnt by heart, there’s no creativity, working together, or thinking outside the box. The prefer to cram as much knowledge into the children as early as possible. My children too find it stifling. Our only choice for now, as their father lives here, is to carry on, and maybe take a gap year, or part of their studies in another country. France also only recognizes its own certificates and diplomas and any foreign certificate is almost useless, so that it makes better sense for them to have a French diploma and be employable in Canada, US and Europe, rather than having an English degree and being unable to work here if that is what they so wished. Career- wise for my children,  it’s a long way off yet as my daughters are young. I can only give them the widest opportunity to succeed and fill their hearts with hope and dreams to come true. Career wise – it’s a long way off yet as my daughters are young. I can only give them the widest opportunity to succeed. And hope.

About Nicky

My name is Nicky Peet, owner and creator of Colour Vie Harmony. I’ve lived in Nantes, France since 2001 with my two daughters after moving from the UK. My hobbies include anything attached to colour, photography, craft, and all sorts of music for the emotions it touches. Loving the sense of wellbeing and balance I’m working my way through the levels in Reiki, with a future possibility of treating clients to bring harmony into their life.
Colour Vie Harmony is about bringing harmony through colour into your image, finding the colours that make you look fabulous with colour analysis, and into your life through coaching, getting your life in gear for expats, with future plans on becoming a weight management coach.

I am also an affiliate for First Rate Fx, getting the best exchange rates without charges for your currency needs.


  1. John Nelson
    March 11, 2012

    Greetings from a fellow Leicesterite… I’m in the Essonne region since 1997.


  2. Sandy Williams
    March 11, 2012

    As usual interesting article. Keep them coming. I was wondering, a while back I found a link – didn’t bookmark it – but thought it might have been from your site. This link was connecting people through skype who wanted to learn and practice their new language skills. Was this a link on your site? Haven’t been able to find it since. Let me know.


    • Phil Byrne
      Phil Byrne
      March 12, 2012

      Hi Sandy
      I think the link you’re looking for is this one – originally sent out on last month’s member newsletter.
      Thanks for your kind comments


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