Felicie Corre-Leblan, born and raised in Paris moved to Shanghai, China, about two years ago with her husband and her two kids. She shares with Romy and the Bunnies her experiences on how to adjust to such a different culture with young children as well as her new beauty, shopping and travel tips.
How old are Cesar and Elsa?
César is 6 and Elsa is 3.
How old were they when you moved to Shanghai?
4 and 1.
What has been the biggest challenge in moving from Paris, your hometown, to Shanghai, with two young kids?
It was not a problem for the kids themselves who are very easy to adapt to new life when they are so young. The biggest challenge was more for us, the parents: moving in a country in which we did not understand the language, in a culture we did not know anything about, dealing with a “Ayi” (this is how everyone call the nanny in China) who speaks only Chinese, leaving our friends and family…
What has been the best part in moving to Shanghai?
Observing our kids speaking fluent Mandarin. We are so impressed- it is much more difficult for us…Traveling all around Asia very easily. Discovering the Chinese culture every day while being able to find the western comfort we like to keep (This is the advantage of Shanghai compared to other cities in China). Having a full time Ayi running the house…
From what I know, Cesar and Elsa are fully immersed in chinese culture, chinese school, chinese nanny. They are fluent in Chinese I beleieve, but how do you keep a bit of the french culture in them?
They go to the French section of a Chinese school so they spend half day with a French teacher and the other half with a Chinese teacher which makes it quite balanced between the 2 cultures and educations.
I remember you mentioning you were trying to stick as much as possible to french food, even getting croissant in the morning! is it still true?
Yes,it has been quite easy to find western food in Shanghai for a few years. But “Ayi” cooks Chinese food for the kids during the week.To be honest, I think they prefer tofu and rice than Quiche Lorraine! And yes we still have our morning croissant from “Farine” the best French Boulangerie in town.
How would you describe a typical day in Shanghai?
We have breakfast together, kids take the school bus, go to school until 3:30pm, then go to Kung-fu, tennis or ballet classes. I come back around 7pm and help Cesar doing homework in French and Chinese…when I understand the instructions!
What are your favorite things to do with the kids?
Bicycle rides in the neighborhood, along the streets edged with plane trees, discovering the hidden lanes. We live in a very nice area which used to be the former French Concession in the beginning if the 20th century. It is full of nice Art Deco and European style houses mixed with typical Chinese elements: drying fishes, spices and clothes hanged by the windows…
Do you have any chinese kids brands to recommend?
“Ballon Rouge“, a very nice and cool brand for kids and mums owned by a Chinese and French couple, for cool basics. “Feine” for cashmere pullovers, “Chou Chou Chic” for girly dresses. And the kept secret market where you kind find all the famous European kids brands at half price or less…
What about you, what do you do, where do you go to disconnect and relax a bit from the kids and from work? Maybe a spa you like? a massage place?
There are many very nice spa where I sometimes have massage such as Dragon Fly, Apsara or Subconscious Day Spa . But you can also easily find plenty of small local massage or manucure places which are very professional and cheap. They close very late, with my husband we like to stop on the way home for an after-dinner-foot-massage, brilliant!
You travel a lot across Asia since moving to China, do you have any travel tips for young parents with two kids?
Do not hesitate to travel with your kids in remote areas and never bring toys they will always find funnier things to play with anywhere you go: pieces of wood, flowers, crabs, insects or stones to collect…
Which have been your favorite destinations so far?
We have just come back from the island of Siquijor in the Philippines. We have been to a very nice guests house called U Story. It is a little paradise, easy for the kids, relaxing for parents, nice places to discover and no tourists around!
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