Serangoon's French invasion

Posted on: Jan 26, 2012

No narrow streets, no French bakeries and no roadside cafes. Yet this part of Singapore feels a lot like France because of all the French people living in the area.

The reason is a private school called the Lycee Francais de Singapour.

The school, which holds classes for children aged 2 to 18 from kindergarten to secondary school, opened in 1999 along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

French national Delphine Desaulles, a stay-at-home mum, said that the school is primarily why she chose to live in the area. She would otherwise have stayed in the Bukit Timah area instead.

Like Delphine, many French nationals who came to Singapore like living near the school.

As of 2010, there were nearly 8,000 French expats living in Singapore.

The French community in the area is so large that you will often hear a smattering of French as you walk along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

They have an association, called the RFS, which offers a lot of activities for French people. Ms Desaulles relates that they gather at the Serangoon community club, which she says is "half-Singaporean, half-French". It is about 15 minutes from the school.

She said: "We see local people in our daily life, but it's harder to mix."

"Singaporeans, they have their routine; they don't 'need' us, in a way," she continued.

Emaline Menager, a stay-at-home mum who frequents the Serangoon community club, said she sometimes forgets she's in Singapore as there are so many French people around her. However, she does not think she is in France, because of the hot weather and nature, and that it still feels different.

Martine Pierres, a French expat who has lived in Singapore for eight months and who is at the same club often, said, however, that the fact there are a lot of French people living there makes it easier for her.

So while Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 may not look like a French suburb on the outside, it is the focal point for French expats, thanks to the French Lysee.



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