Sophie, Cyril and their four sons, Hugo, Achille, Jules and Eudes (aged 12, 10, 8 and 6 respectively) have become “expat experts” in being able to quickly uproot one life and move across the planet to another. Though the transition is never easy, Sophie believes that organisation, motivation and a genuine desire to embrace a new opportunity are the key ingredients in making a demanding move as seamless as possible.
A tour of the Perducat house in lovely Braddell Heights reveals a warm, bright mix of Chinese and French influences with a hint of sleek, modern Singapore. Completed in May last year, the three-storey, five-bedroom home oozes style and creativity. Vibrant shades of green, red and pink make a perfect backdrop to the vast array of furniture and paintings the Perducats have picked up on their travels. From Balinese art to Australian didgeridoos, the interior showcases the multi-cultural interests of this intercontinental family.
When did you move here and from where?
Last August. We are from France but lived in Shanghai for two and a half years, then Beijing for three, and finally Frankfurt for almost a year before coming to Singapore. We still have a house in France that we visit at least once a year.
How was the move?
We’re used to moving now, so this move was actually fairly easy and well-organised. I was looking forward to living in Singapore. Our plan is to be here for three years.
Why did you choose this particular area in Singapore?
We wanted a house rather than a condo, but there wasn’t much choice in April last year. We looked at some places in Bukit Timah, but it was a bit too far from our day-to-day activities. One of the main reasons we chose this area was that it’s convenient and central to everything we need. The French School is nearby, too.
Have your children settled in?
They miss Beijing. It was interesting there and we all loved the countryside and the Great Wall. They miss their friends, too. They’ve had to start at a new school again and the older they get, the more friends they make that they have to leave behind. For his birthday present this year, our eldest one, Hugo, wants a trip to Beijing to see his friends.
How do you find working as a Pilates instructor here? What are your goals?
I discovered Pilates in Beijing in 2001. I worked as an engineer originally, but going back to that kind of working life was too difficult. I thought long and hard about it and decided that if we ever moved back to France, what better way to do Pilates than to teach it myself? So I took a five-month Polestar teaching course in Hong Kong, then did many hours of practice-teaching and passed two exams. I taught for one year in Beijing, then for almost another year in Frankfurt. Now I teach here in my fully equipped home studio. My business is called Pink Pilates.
I’m quite busy now. I have many clients who come to my home and I also teach at the Poomse Club. Most of my clients are French, but I also have some English clients. My classes are from 8.30am to 9.30am every day, very convenient for mothers after they have dropped their kids off at school.
Your home is a beautiful mix of Asian and European styles. What are some of your favourite possessions?
The furniture is mostly from Beijing and Shanghai, with a few things we purchased here in Singapore. I bought our bed, the buffet and some of the shelves at Originals. I love Originals! I also like Jehan Gallery and Ikea. Most of the paintings are from China and the rest are French and Indonesian. Some of the French ones were done by my mother and sister in the gravure printing style.
Wow, what a talented family! And I love your choice of wall colours, especially the pink master bedroom.
Thank you. The colours are from Dulux. I really like the way they turned out.
Where have you travelled since moving here and where are you headed next?
Last Christmas, we went to Australia. Last February we went to France and it was good to feel the winter – we miss the seasons! We’re planning to go again next February. We are leaving for Bali next week for a ten-day family trip, and Vietnam, Malaysia and New Zealand are also on our list.
What are your favourite restaurants and where do you like to shop?
There are so many restaurants we love. Flutes at the Fort is the former house of the local fire chief. We like having brunch at the Shangri-La on Sentosa – it has a real holiday feel. We also like Jim Thompson, the new Thai restaurant in Dempsey.
I’m a countrywoman, so I’m not too fond of shopping! I enjoyed it in China, though. I miss Beijing’s fabric market and bazaars. Otherwise, I usually wait for the summer and shop in Paris. In Singapore, I like Encore and the Shophouse Fair. I prefer fairs to shopping malls.
And what about activities for your children?
The kids love Forest Adventure, the zoo, the night safari and MacRitchie Reservoir Park. And we like Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Chijmes. Oh, and I want to try the flying trapeze on Sentosa! I discovered the one at Club Med in Bintan and can’t wait to try it here. Another place we like to go is Punggol Beach at the Marina Country Club where you can rent a boat and go waterskiing and wakeboarding.
What advice would you give to expats who are moving here or have just arrived?
Don’t go shopping on the weekends – it seems that’s the main activity of Singaporeans. Instead, do outdoor activities. Make contact with the school and meet other parents and their children. Join a club; we’re still deciding which one to join.
Do you belong to any associations?
Yes, we are members of the French Association of Singapore. The ladies there are very energetic and professional. There is a directory with plenty of information and it’s in French as well. There are activities every month, and every year they hold a big assembly.
Have you made friends in Singapore?
I have made some good friends through teaching Pilates, and with parents of my kids’ friends.
And my good friend Helene Byron, whom I met in Shanghai and have kept in touch with over the years, found out around the same time I did that she was moving to Singapore. It’s been good to have each other, and our kids are around the same age. Another good friend of mine, Alexia Laforgue, lives two blocks away. She has her own business called Rouge Baiser and sells a beautiful collection of curtains, cushions and bed linen.
What have been the biggest rewards and challenges of the move?
The biggest reward is that my husband is here a lot more because Singapore is more convenient for his travel. Also, it’s been a good place to start my business. I had to be more active in advertising here, but my children helped me by putting flyers in all the mailboxes in the area. And it worked! I started in November last year and the business has grown a lot. Word of mouth has been great, too. More and more people are calling and making appointments. I don’t have a website yet, but people can call or email me. It’s hard to work with all the travelling and moving around, but I didn’t want the years to go by and not do anything at all! But when the kids are home, it’s important to be there for them.
What’s next for you?
My goal is to improve my Chinese, which I’ve been studying for six years. I’m a Level Four in the Chinese Proficiency Test for reading and writing, and I have been taking classes in Singapore to eventually get to Level 6. Eventually, I would like to live in Boston, and to visit Miami and San Francisco. I’d also like to live in Sydney.
14A Maju Avenue
Rouge Baiser Elise
7 Lock Road
The Shophouse Fair
AM PM Imported Furniture
The European Season in Singapore
Jones the Grocer
Culina Quality Food & Wine
Senso Ristorante & Bar
Flutes at the Fort Restaurant
The Lasik Surgery Clinic