A French expat enjoying island life in Mauritius

  • French expat in Mauritius
    Image provided by Nathanaël
Published 5 months ago

Nathanael comes from Dole, in the Jura department in the east of France. He moved to Mauritius in September 2017 with his girlfriend. Nathanael speaks to about his wonderful experience and adventures in this beautiful tropical island with a pleasant climate, a relaxed lifestyle and cultural diversity.

Hi Nathanael, can you please introduce yourself? Where are you from, what are you doing in Mauritius, and what were you doing before?

I'm 23 and I come from Dole, in the Jura department next to the Swiss border. Following my studies in logistics in Chalon sur Saône, I moved to Mullhouse, then to Lyon for my Master in micro-mechanical studies. Last year in Switzerland, I pionneered an arts association called Unknown Art. I've always wanted to live abroad, so I was thinking about moving to Canada but ended up landing in Mauritius via a voluntary program. I'll be staying here for 18 months.

What brought you to Mauritius?

I didn't know much about Mauritius so my move here is more about a career prospect. We're quite happy to be here with among all these beautiful beaches and the great cultural diversity.

What is the process of moving to Mauritius?

It was quite simple thanks to agreements signed between France and Mauritius. I didn't need any special permit to move here. My girlfriend, on the other hand, had to obtain an occupational permit. However, the company that hired her took care of all relating formalities. A couple of hours in Port-Louis was enough to get everything done.

What is your favourite thing about Mauritius, and what is your least favourite thing?

I'm really glad I got the opportunity to live abroad which has allowed me to discover and learn so many things. Obviously, I like the beautiful beaches here and the amazing blend of cultures. Mauritians are really kind people. What I dislike is the lack of waste management. It's sad to see garbage being thrown in the street and in sugarcane fields. Bank, post office, and insurance schedules are also quite tricky for those who have regular office hours. You end up having to take a couple of hours out of your work day to run those errands and get them done.

What has surprised you the most about Mauritius?

That there are so many stray dogs almost everywhere! It's the first time I'm seeing this. My first time in Port-Louis, the capital city, was also quite peculiar. It's so noisy and crowdy that I my trip there lasted around forty-five minutes only. I'm a bit more used to it now. Also, driving is quite dangerous from my experience here.

What are the features of today’s expat job market in Mauritius?

There are career prospects in various fields so it's pretty easy to find a job in a big company. Most of the expats I've met here are happy with their job.

How easy or difficult it is to find accommodation in Mauritius, and what type of accommodation is available for expats?

There's something for everyone and rent prices depend on the type accommodation chosen. I would suggest a one-month trial before making any commitment. And then if you like it, you can then sign a long term rental agreement.

Nathanael et sa petite amie à Maurice
Image provided by Nathanaël

What are the year’s biggest holidays in Mauritius? What are some essential etiquettes?

Till now, I've only taken part in the Kaz'out festival featuring a lot of local artists and Porlwi by Nature. These are very interesting events in Mauritius during which you can meet new people. I got the chance to interact with them thanks to my art association. I would really like to organise an event during my stay here with local and European artists for a cultural and artistic exchange. I'm now looking forward to the next religious festivals. Divali is another major festival here whereby houses and many buildings are decorated with lightings. I'm curious about the energy consumption on that occasion.

What are your views on the importance of arts and culture in Mauritius?

There are many artists here, including painters and sculptors. I would really like to get closer to them and organise and event. Also, there's a wide variety of music genres even though I'm not used to them. You can often hear a different genre at each event.

How do you find the lifestyle in Mauritius?

I'm used to a fast-paced life but here in Mauritius it's quite the opposite. The people here have a laid-back attitude (except when it comes to driving), enjoy life, and are happy with a simple life and make do with whatever they have. It's a different mindset from what I have experienced during the past two years in France and especially Lyon.

How is the transportation system? How do you move around?

There's a massive bus network but schedules, frequencies and bus stops are quite tricky except if you're really used to it. The country is planning to introduce a subway network which is more likely to look like tramway but it seems like Mauritians are not really ready for this. For me, having a car seems to be more practical. You can also have a bike or a scooter but it can be quite dangerous due to the quality of roads and traffic congestion.

Have you been able to adapt to the society?

I manage to adapt quite easily wherever I am. However, there's always something new happening on the road, in the neighbourhood or at work. It's quite funny actually!

How is everyday life for you in Mauritius ?

I work from 7 am to 5 pm and by the time I reach home it's already dark. We have dinner and do some household stuff before going to bed. On the weekends, we go to the beach or explore the rest of the country. There are so many things to see and to do in Mauritius that you definitely won't get bored.

What do you do in your free time?

We do some shopping, go to the beach or plan outings with other expats. As I mentionned previously, I'm also planning an event with my art association.

Are there activities for people who enjoy nightlife?

There are many bars, pubs, and nightclubs, especially in tourist areas, but I haven't been to any of them yet. Flat-sharing expats also party a lot!

What new habits have you developed in Mauritius? And what old habits have you quit?

Since we're close to the beach, we rarely miss the sunset which is really amazing. I haven't quit any habit yet. Let's see how it goes.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Mauritius?

The cost of living in Mauritius is quite high since you have to pay for most activities in the major tourist attractions. When doing your shopping, you have to keep an eye on your bill as many products are imported. Good cheese and French wine are also very expensive. However, public transport is affordable even though the quality is not what you would have expected. A French baguette costs Rs 12, which is around 0,30€.

Ile Maurice
Image provided by Nathanaël

What is something that you would like to do in Mauritius, but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

I would like to go scuba-diving and explore the marine ecosystem. The coral reefs here are really beautiful, from what I hear.

Share your most memorable experience in Mauritius.

Our trip to Ile aux Cerfs was an amazing one. We spent a whole day there between beautiful beaches and a range of activities.

If you could do the move to Mauritius over, what would you do differently?

I would have been more careful regarding accommodation.

What do you think of the local cuisine? What are your favourite dishes?

It's mainly about rice and spices. I like the Mauritian cuisine as long as it's not too spicy. There's a wide variety of dishes here thanks to the cultural diversity. For the time being, I like rotis but I yet have to try more dishes.

What do you miss the most about your home country ?

My friends, a white Christmas, cheese after dinner, and respect for road traffic regulations.

Have you had a moment that you almost felt like leaving from Mauritius?

Not really, as we're happy to be here! I was keen about living abroad so I'm learning a lot from my experience here. I like my job and having my girlfriend here with me.

Give us some useful tips that expats-to-be in Mauritius will benefit from.

Take the time to look at different types of accommodation before signing for a long term rental, beware of road traffic, and dedicate a whole week on your arrival to all administrative procedures. Then you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and fun activities.

If you had to advise an expat on five items to bring with them to Mauritius, which would that be?

A swimsuit, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, go pro and a bottle of wine for hard times.

What are your plans for the future?

Following our stay here, we will probably move to another country even though we haven't planned anything yet. It's always interesting to explore new landscapes and cultures.

What is one thing that you will take with you from Mauritius?

Some art-related stuff for my association and contacts so I can come back here for holidays in a couple of years.