Friends helped six-year journey

Friends were key to helping Helena Gicquel integrate into her new life in France; from school bells to wedding bells.

29 October 2008

GOOD friends were the key to helping 21-year-old Helena Gicquel integrate into her new life in France; from school bells to wedding bells.

Mrs Gicquel, née Mongton, passed her baccalauréat with flying colours, went to study languages at Brest University, now attends a notaires’ college in Nantes.

She recently tied the knot with French husband Fabien - and all just six years after moving from the UK with her parents. Her father Ted said: “We had come for summer holidays since 1989 when Helena was two.

“We moved six years ago when she was 15. She went into lycée not speaking a great deal of French. However she met a group of youngsters in the village and they took her under their wing and taught her the language.”

“Each year she got better marks until she passed her baccalauréat and she didn't have to retake a year at all.”

She then went to Brest University and studied languages including Chinese, German and French.

“We had a struggle bringing her over to France because she had a strong group of friends in the UK. It was getting in with some good friends that helped her to settle down so well.

“We noticed that the difference between the English and the French youngsters would be that the French would do more activities and things in the village hall and the youngsters tended to organise them themselves.”

It was when Helena was 15 that she met Fabien, after spotting him in a café. Her mother, Viv, said: “Not long after we had moved here properly, she said she hadn't seen any decent French boys, but I said it was early days.

“A few weeks later we were in our village and she said 'Don't look now but I have just seen the first decent French boy.'

“Of course I looked straight away and there was a young lad having a coffee. Not long after they started going out.”

The couple now live in Nantes during the week where Helena is studying at a college for notaires, returning to Trebry at the weekend.

Mr Monger added: “Both our family and Fabien's were delighted at celebrating the joining of not just two lives, but two cultures.

“The mayor and the priest welcomed the guests from the UK with some English that they had practised in advance and the local community has been very welcoming and supportive since we moved to the area. This was reflected in the celebrations.”

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