Time for another Amsterdam expat spotlight. This time a lady from the French community in Amsterdam. Et oui! Ah, La France….what an incredible country! There is so much to see and it is so varied. The food, the culture, the scenery, the lifestyle and the people. You could spend a lifetime travelling around France and never get bored. It is like visiting 10 countries at the same time. Before moving to Amsterdam, I spent 15 happy years living in France and loved every day. Every day felt like I was on holiday. La Plage!
One of the things that makes France so interesting is the people. The French. There’s no one quite like them. Yes, they’re so house proud, but with a house like France who wouldn’t be? They are so interesting. They are always talking about films they have seen or books they have read. And they are kind and funny too, in their own way. It might not seem so to certain others at first, but they really are. And here is our Q+A with a French lady in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam expat spotlight : A French lady
In Amsterdam, there is quite a large and active French community. So I am always happy to meet French people and to my use increasingly rusty French on them. One French lady I met at a cultural event is Hélène Degryse. I also see her in the Jordaan as we are nearly neighbours. As I restart these local expat spotlight series, I am happy to start with Hélène. Her work, political activities and many interests are well worth hearing about. Thanks Hélène for participating with our Q+A. Over to you……
q1. Hi Hélène, please tell us about your path to living in Amsterdam.
I’m originally from Hauts-de-France, the area closest to England. I was born in Calais, studied in Lille and moved to Utrecht when I was 22 for a Dutch guy. Then, I quickly moved to Amsterdam. I have been enjoying life in Amsterdam ever since! I have 2 wonderful franco dutch boys. In 2014, I obtained my Dutch citizenship and am still very proud of it!
q2. What keeps you busy work-wise ?
I work mainly with words, I’m a (copy)writer, (sworn) translator and interpreter and I also make podcasts. I work mainly in English, Dutch and French. Also, I write touristic guidebooks on Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Netherlands. I’m a culture freak and fan of all touristy things in Amsterdam and the Netherlands and also abroad. I really miss press openings and museums right now…
q3. Please tell us more about your political work.
I’m a local representative “conseiller” for the French people living in the Netherlands. As such, I work very closely with the embassy and consulate of France in the kingdom. With the Covid crisis I’ve been very busy helping French people, providing information and translations of measures, answering their many questions, I spent days on the phone and writing mails and posts to inform them in real time. I’m a very independent person and I see my action as a representative as social and proactive rather than politically moved. A big part of my action is to network in Paris and contact Senators for French expats and explain them local problems and find solutions. Many think expats are privileged people, but the reality is very different and the pandemic has been tough on many of them.
q4. What are your favourite things about living in Netherlands and what do you miss about France?
I like the fact that Dutch people are doers. They make things happen and do not usually talk uselessly for hours: they are results driven. Amsterdam is truly a global village, there is a good vibe and many internationals work and live there. Among them many French people as well which is nice. The longer I live in the Netherlands, the less I miss concrete things about France. I even enjoy the fact there are no hypermarkets here and often shop at local markets. Now, I mainly miss my friends and my family. I also miss Paris and all Parisian things. I also miss the empty beaches of the Côte d’Opale. Seafood platter is also something I often long for. You can get them in Amsterdam but the taste is different.
q5 What do French people like best about living in The Netherlands?
I think they really like the quality of life. There is a good balance between professional and family life. Amsterdam is an easy-going city with many expats and facilities. The cultural offer is impressive in the country. And restaurants and food offers are getting better and better though often too expensive.
q5. What are your plans for the future?
These past 12 months have been a whirlwind with the corona crisis and the consecutive lockdowns and homeschooling. I have a couple of professional and personal projects to start these coming months. I’m currently working on a very creative copywriting project and I know my words will be everywhere on show in France very soon 😊 2021 will be (if permitted by the current pandemic) election year for the representatives, so you might hear from me again very soon. 😊
Thanks Hélène for taking the time to answer our questions for the Amsterdam expat spotlight. So interesting to hear about all the great things you do with the French community in Amsterdam and with our Dutch hosts! Again, you can see more on her website for writing and translations
And she shares lots of useful local information on her Facebook Page.
Hope you all enjoyed that and to see lots more similar blogs with local people see our Amsterdam blogs and articles.