“How are you today? Isn’t your son from England coming on a visit this week?” a nurse at Victoria in Mouans-Sartoux asks one of the residents, a Brit who admits he’s “not much good in French”.
“That’s the case with quite a few of the people here,” says Claude Cheton of Emera, the French company that runs Victoria in conjunction with the Sunny Bank Association. “When we launched this site – unique in France as a bilingual facility – we had to be sure our staff could communicate easily in English.” To make sure of this, they’ve been put through tailor-made language courses especially designed to suit their working needs.
Victoria staff display English-training diplomasAnd so one December afternoon, a half a dozen of Victoria’s staff received diplomas after successfully completing their language training. There was a gathering in the Sunny Space, a comfortable enclave on the second floor where English-speakers and others can get together and browse a display of magazines and newspapers, ranging from The Telegraph and The Week to the Dogs Trust monthly and the Reporter and at 5pm the presentation of diplomas took place in the main hall, followed by champagne and canapés. Proof once again of what Director Fabien Huchot identifies as the two keynotes of life at Victoria: comfort and conviviality.
Ray Angell, a Bomber Command veteran now well settled in there summed it up: “You know, nobody likes giving up their independent way of life but when it comes to that this is the place to be. It’s a winner.”