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Chantilly pace.

Byline: By Sarah Ivison Evening Gazette

Leanne Desbonnet first went to France during her degree.

The 28-year-old was studying a French and German degree at Hull University and went to France for her year abroad, also spending some time in Dusseldorf.

The former pupil of Pentland Primary School, Billingham, and Teesside High School Eaglescliffe, taught English in a sixth form.

"I really enjoyed the experience," says Leanne, whose mum Sheila Potter, who still lives in Billingham, often visits the family in France. "I loved the French way of life and teaching.

"After completing my degree I returned and I now live in Chantilly, just north of France."

Leanne met her French husband Marc-Antoine in 1997 and married in 2001 and the couple have two children Louis, four, and Alice, two.

She taught English for a few years and now co-ordinates the English language department of a training centre.

"I've been part-time since Alice was born," says Leanne. "It is part of a 'parental leave' incentive which is very popular in France."

Leanne says the area where they live in France is "much more beautiful".

"Chantilly is a small town surrounded by forest with a beautiful chateau and race course," says Leanne.

"Life in France is easier in many ways - longer holidays, shorter working hours, great childcare facilities.

"Life is also much less commercial though that is changing.

"But what I miss about Teesside are the people. Everyone is so much friendlier and down to earth in Teesside. Also, drivers are so much less aggressive than in France!

"I also miss 'real' English tea, Cheddar cheese, much nicer than Camembert, and custard."

Leanne visits Teesside at least twice a year to see her family and friends.

"We always come over to England at Christmas and in Easter or summertime," she says. "My mum comes over all the time to see us.

"I like Christmas better in England, it's more commercialised in England but I really like that, I really like all the hype of Christmas.

"The big difference between Christmas in England and in France is that the main day is December 24 in France and the children open their presents at midnight on Christmas Eve.

"On the whole I think it's quite hard to pick differences between the two countries because they are similar in a lot of ways.

"I think people's attitudes are different. I find English people a lot friendlier but that may just be a Teesside thing!

"It's more relaxed in France and people work a 35-hour week and have long holidays.

"As for the future, I would like to return to the UK one day, and if I did it would have to be the North-east," adds Leanne.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2004
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