Private Schools in South West France

We live in the Gers (32), Midi Pyrénées and I have been researching private schools which are not too far away from us (10 minutes from Nogaro). I have found schools in Eauze (Saint-Taurin), Maubourguet (Jeanne d'Arc) and Aire sur l'Adour (Saint-Joseph). Are there any SFN parents with children at these schools or who have heard if they are used to dealing with bilingual children? I love the local village school that my son (4) attends but....he will no longer speak in English to me at home or to my family when we visit the UK. He is the only child in his school (over 100 children maternelle/primaire) to have an English speaking parent and I understand that he wants to fit in and be like everyone else. I love being in France but I don't want my children (I also have a 2 year old daughter) to lose half of their identity - "your children are soooo French" is a frequently heard comment during my trips to the UK. I guess they are, but they are also British and I would like to find an environment where there will be other children just like him.. This is my first post so I hope I've explained myself ok and thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.....

If you want a bigger English speaking pupil ratio try Pietat in Condom. Further for you I know but has a higher English speaking ratio.

Both our boys went to St Taurin ( eauze) for college which we chose primarily for it's class sizes , they were until one year ago very small so better behavior from the class we felt and more attention , this was especially important for 2nd son who has a learning handicap but they both got a lot of benefit from their time there. The secondary reason for picking it was the English speaking pupil ratio... Nil at the time. We wanted them to speak french and they were getting used as translators for other newer English pupils in their other school. I know this is the opposite of what you are looking for but it is a school we were happy with .

Hi Tracy,

Thanks for the ideas and it's reassuring to know that it will probably work out in the end. My husband is French and although his English is very good, we all tend to speak French when we are together and English when I'm on my own. I also have a 13 year old (French) stepdaughter who is with us for holidays and weekends so whilst I chat away in English, all 3 of them communicate in French! They do love watching English DVDs though and I may look at getting English TV as when we are at my Mum's they overload on CBeebies (I still don't get "In The Night Garden" but my 2 year old loves it!! I know what you mean about "losing your English" though - I teach English to adult/teenage learners and sometimes I have to really think about how we would say something in "natural English" Either that or I can't translate a work from French to English although I know what it means in French.

I did google Abbatial but couldn't find it on a map. My favourite suggestion has to be getting rid of both children (sorry I didn't mean that, slip of the typing finger)/sending both children to my Mum for a week (lost my Dad 2 years ago to cancer). She would be completely exhausted at the end of it but if it's the right thing for my children, who am I to stand in the way?

Thanks Victoria,

I hope it is just a phase as, until he went to school, he spoke in English with me and when we went to visit family in the UK and French with my husband's family. He also spoke English with his little sister and now they communicate solely in French. My daughter who has not yet started school speaks an interesting franglais mixture which my husband's family don't understand! Like you, we live in the country and whilst I know quite a lot of English people near me, they are mostly retired couples who have made a permanent home out here or families with much older children. We have a shortage of English speaking families with small children in the area... maybe I should launch an appeal for families with young children to move down to the Gers- I'm not going too far, am I?

Hi Fiona,

Congratulations on your first post, don't worry, we don't bite :-) I have 2 kids, a little bit older than yours who were born here and we have ups and downs with the language but it works out in the end. One of my friends has the opposite problem, her 5yr old(born here) will still not speak French at school after 3 years - his little sister, started last year and she wont shut up, so now the boy is having to visit the psychalogue every week - you just can't win.

Our kids go to the local private school but they are sill the only English speakers in kids so the school will not necessarily resolve the issue. We work on it at home, you don't say if their dad speaks English or not but that will make a difference. We are both English speakers with fluent French and many French/bilingual friends but we make a point of only speaking English at home, we have English TV, English books and English DVDS. When the children speak in French, we answer in English and we also correct the English without making a big deal of it. IT's not that we're obsessive about it, it's just that we appreciate how lucky they are to have the gift of being bi-lingual and we are determined that they should profit from it. Having read that, I sometimes wonder how good our English is these days :-)

Do you live near Abbatial, (no idea where that is, just know it is in the Midi Pyrenees) I have friends there who have children aged 5 and 3 so could put you in touch with them if you like, as that is probably the best way to encourage their English. We have also been sending our daughter to the UK since she was 3, to stay with her grandparents, so she had no choice but to speak English - not as harsh as it sounds, she loves going. In fact, we have misgivings about sending our 5 yr old with her this year as they do tend to play in French - on the other hand, 2 weeks alone, without children for the first time in 8 years----

He may just be going through a stage - I had a friend who was married to a Frenchman who always spoke to her girls in English but neither of them would speak English until they were about 5 though they both understood everything that was said to them. My children went to private schools and they were the only ex-pats there though that might be because it's the country.

Is there any form of ex pats association around you? Maybe the answer would be to fix play dates with other English speaking children for your son.

Hello Fiona,
I’m not sure if you are still on this forum, this post is almost ten years old, However we have recently moved to the same area (15mins east of Nogaro), and are looking forward to learning more about the local schools. Our nine year old (just turned 9), speaks only English, and has some learning disabilities. We are hoping to find a nice school for him in Eauze perhaps, and would appreciate any information that you might have to offer.
Thank you.

Hi Monique - I don’t really know your area, but our youngest son has some learning disabilities and has been through school in France (Brittany) since age 8 - when he also came with almost no French - he is now 18 and fluent in both English and French. We received particularly good support from SESSAD (Service d’Education Spécialisée et de Soins à Domicile) - indeed they are still supporting him into the world of work. Just thought I’d mention it in case you need any general (non-local) feedback.

Thank you Geof. Great information, and very reassuring.