Expats in Pau

Hi, my name is Sandra. I am originally from Portugal but have lived all my life in Mozambique. I have just moved to Pau and am looking for other expats that I could meet up with for a chat, a coffee and to hear about life in France. My french is still "useless" ...
I have a 10 year old son.

Hello Sandra.

Welcome to Expat.com! :)


Hi there Sandra.

We are a South African family thinking of moving from Cape Town to Pau next year. Our daughter will be 9 when we arrive.
I was wondering how you are settling in Pau and how you are finding the town. I am also very interested to hear how your son is settling in school as he is a similar age to what my daughter will be when we come over. Did he speak any French? We are looking at Ste Ursule as a school option because they are more accommodating with non-French speaking children.



Hi Louise and Sandra
I have thought about moving to Pau for years (from the UK), but I moved to Cape Town instead.
Louise, where are you based? I'd like to chat to you about that school.
All the best

Hi John

We are in the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town. Still haven"t found out much firsthand about St Ursule other than that, other than going the International School route, which we don't want to do, it is the only school in Pau that caters to any extent to non French-speaking kids. Their website gives more info as to the support given.

I'm in Constantia, Rathfelder Ave.

We're just down the road in Bergvliet. How old are your kids? My daughter is in Grade 2 at Reddam House.

Hi Louise,
Sorry was out of town and only saw your msg now.
We moved here in December 2012. Not the greatest time of the year for someone who has always lived in Mozambique and is not used to the "real" cold. I guess you wont have that much of a problem cos it does get quite cold in SA in winter. I have been here on holidays in the summer and it is lovely. Till then we try and make the most of the snowy days :-)
Pau is a small, friendly town. In many aspects it reminds me of Nelspruit.
The language barrier is definetly a problem. I havent managed to start taking french classes due to work commitments but I highly recommend it for anyone moving here and with no knowledge of french. It is defintely a + if you can communiccate.
My son didnt have a language problem in school as he is enrolled at the International School. But this is a "problem" for him outside school as he has not managed to find many friends (other then schoolmates)because he doesnt yet know french.
Would you like me to perhaps try and find out more information about the St. Ursule school for you?
Please let me know how I can help.
Thank you for your msg!

Hi Aurelie,
Thank you for the welcome.
Sorry for my delayed response. Have not been able to check my pc in the last couple of weeks.

I visited the International School and met MAdame Helias (I think that is her name) and I am in the same boat as you and would prefer not to send my kids there.

Loiuse my kids go to the International School of CT in Wynberg. They are 12 and 10.  Would you and your husband like to meet for coffee one day for a chat?

Hi John

Never got  that last message you sent me. Yes, let's meet up sometime. It's not as if there are millions of people in Cape Town preparing a move to Pau. Most have never heard of it! We are going away for the Easter holidays, but I'll contact you when we return.


Hi there. Thanks for your reply. Glad to hear you are slowly settling in. Must definitely been quite a shock, moving from Angola! We are a bit nervous about the weather. 15 degrees is a old winter's day in Cape Town, and we don't even own coats!
How is your son finding the International school? We had considered it, but as we plan to move for the long term, feel Lauren would be better off in a local school. From the sound of it, St Ursule does offer some help with ex-pat kids, which is the only school I've found that does. That makes me feel slightly less anxious about putting Lauren into a school where she doesn't speak the language! I haven't yet come across anybody directly who has children at the school, except for someone who worked there 10 years back and gave it a good report. If you are able to find out anything more, I would appreciate it.
I presume you are renting a property. How did you find that experience? Rentals seem pretty reasonable, although I am fussy, so not sure what we'll end up paying!
Hope the weather is warming up a little for you.


Sorry, not Angola, Mozambique,

First and foremost you better get coats!!! ahahahah
We have had winter days with 0 and -2 degrees. January and February are definetly the worst.
Nuno is completely at home at the International School, as he comes from an International School environment in Maputo. We like the school because its quite small and, therefore, the children get alot of individual attention. However, it is very expensive! We have also moved for a long term but I decided that initially I would put him in a school and language environment that he is familiar with to reduce the shock of moving.
I will look up the St. Ursule school for you and let you know. After only 3 months here I have come to realize that most probably it takes us adults more adjusting then kids. So dont worry about Lauren and her lack of French. She will pick it up in no time, guaranteed.
I am also fussy when it comes to picking a home. It took us quite a while to find something that is "reasonable" or to our liking. I lived in Pretoria for a year in 2004 and believe me it didnt take me as long to find a house to my liking there. The french criterion of what is "acceptable" in a house for rent is completely different from what I was used to in Africa. Pau, notwithstanding a small town, has a high demand in terms of real estate and that has quite a few "cons". Also, it will depend what you are looking for in terms of price, obviously.
The weather is warming up, yes, ever so slightly but I have also realized that in Europe one extra degree the following day is reason to rejoice.
All in all I am glad we moved. Lots of news things to learn and to see and above all, safety, which for me is very important :-)
Chat soon!

Hi Sandra

My name is Shauneen, Irish and living west of Pau (Lucq De Bearn).  When we first moved to France I only had very limited tourist French and lessons were an enormous help to me.  My husband and I love everything about the area.  He is often away with work and has to start learning Portuguese. Lots of 6 degrees of separation going on in this post.
We don't have kids, but I would be happy to meet up sometime for coffee.  Let me know if you are interested.
Take care

Shauneen I bet you know Tony and Suzie E.  Six degrees of separation and all that :-)

Hi Shauneen!
I am not sure where and how far away you are from me (Lons) but I would love to meet up someday (maybe in Pau). Let me know what your schedule is like.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.
Take care

Hi Sandra

I am only about 25 minutes away, between Monein and Navarrenx.  It is a bit hectic at the moment, but after Easter would be good or I might be able to do something this week, not Wednesday or Thursday.

I am glad you are settling in, it is a great area to live.

S :)

I'm afraid I have to disappoint you.  I don't know them, would have been funny though.  Where do they live?


LOL Somewhere west of Pau I think. Irish couple - gregarious ... although I appreciate that is probably a tautology with any Irish person :-)

I'm sure you have checked the St. Ursule website, right?

You could be right there John, although we are all slightly subdued after our 6 Nations performance.  Still we had St Paddy's day and there is always next year :)

Hi there,
Is the coffee offer for me or Louise. Sorry, slightly confused as you mention St. Ursule in your post :)

Pragana you are welcome to come and have coffee with me (in Cape Town) ;-)


And why not???? I go to Mozambique all the time :) Might just stop by one of these days.
However... my post was actually addressed at "kittyman"

Hi Shauneen,
This week and the next one are also going to be complicated for me. After Easter sounds great, though. Let's make a plan for then.

I am intrigued why you chose France over Portugal.

Hi, My name is Tricia.  I'm happy to meet anyone for coffee in Pau who is around.  It's best for me either this Thursday or any day next week.  Just let me know.  All 3 of my children have gone to various schools around here, one of the best ones we found is St Joseph in Nay, which is also a boarding school.  As part of their curriculum is a choice between horse riding, drama and VTT, and they always have foreign students there.  The head master speaks excellent English.  It was handy for me though as we live close to Nay.  My youngest now goes to the International School in Morlaas for IGCSEs.  Maybe I will see you at school sometime Sandra?

Hi Tricia. As you may have read earlier in the thread, we are considering moving from Cape Town to the Pau area I was originally drawn to Nay as it looks so beautiful, but was concerned that it might be too small and also about our schooling options. My daughter will be 9 when we come. I liked the look of St Elizabeth's in Nay, but not sure if they would be able to support a non French child. St Joseph's looks great, but is it not really difficult to get in to if you don't attend the two feeder schools in the area?
So we looked at actually staying in Pau itself. The International school is not the route we want to gi if we can help it. It seems that St Ursule is possibly a good option for expat kids. You are the first person I've come across who has had a child at the school. I would value your opinions in this regard as well as any of my other issues mentioned above! Tx so much.


This Pau thread is taking off!  Glad to find some other people living in or moving to this area. So good to be able to ask questions of people in the know.

Hi Tricia!
Great to know you are also a parent of ISB! I don't think, however, that we will meet very often there, cos I think your child will leave earlier, or later, than Nuno (grade 5)...not sure of the higher grades' timetable.
Anyhow, it would really be nice to meet outside the school, do you agree?
Like I mentioned to Shauneen the next couple of weeks will be hectic for me, until after Easter. How does that sound?
Let me know and thank you for getting back to me.

Okay, after Easter is fine, just let me know when nearer the time.  x

Tx for the detailed reply. I would appreciate hearing any first hand experiences of both St Ursule and St Elizabeth. How do you find living near Nay?


After Easter will be perfect. Let's get in touch closer to the time.

Hi everyone, my husband, three year old son and i will be moving to Pau in a few weeks. Can you please advise on where to live, schools for the little one  and things to do in Pau. I plan on starting french lessons as soon as possible but i will have to put the little one in school first.

Please advise.

Many thanks

Hello everyone,

My name is Michelle and I'm moving to Pau in 2 weeks with my husband and my 3 years old daughter.  I have been there few times before and I really like this town. I sign my daughter to the International school of Béarn and to Sainte Ursule because I live next to it. I will decide where to send here when I will visit both one more time :)

I would love to meet all of you for a coffee and all of you that have kids maybe also for a play date soon.


Are you up for coffee sometime? Or perhaps you, your husband and family could come over for a glass of wine one late afternoon / early evening?
John in Constantia. 07666 54 847