Marie is city’s ‘French connection’

Marie Traisnel loves the city.

When Marie Traisnel decided to relocate to Cape Town from France two years ago, she was not disappointed.

“When we arrived, we lived in Gardens, and it was amazing – it was full of the hustle and bustle of the city, and the nature was amazing.”

She has since moved to Zonnebloem, and works at the French Consulate in Queen Victoria Street.

Marie was born in Lille, north of France, and studied political science at a school which prepared pupils for government administration.

She moved to Cape Town two years ago with her husband, Simon.

“We met at school and then moved to Paris. Six years ago we travelled to Australia, I worked at the Alliance Francaise, and Simon worked for a recruitment agency. It was the first time I stayed away from France that long. It was in Australia that I learnt to speak English.”

Thereafter the couple moved back home, finalised their studies and decided they were going to travel some more.

“I applied for head of communications for the City of Paris. I was young and a woman, and I managed a team of five, so this was a big deal for me. There were many challenges with refreshing the systems of the City of Paris’ communication – it was the highlight of my career.”

Four years later, Marie and Simon decided they wanted to do something different before they turned 30.

“I saw all my friends getting married and having children, and it was our dream to travel somewhere, and Cape Town was on our radar. “We have friends that often speak about Cape Town and we needed a change, so we decided to move.”

At the time, she found a job at Amazon in the French department.

“I had to convince my family it was a good idea for me to relocate. I think they wanted me to get married and have children,” said Marie.

“When I arrived in the city, I was not disappointed. Here, the French community is small, but so dynamic. It’s easy for me to interact with people from the city as well as from my home town.

“The nature here is good, and the food and wine is amazing – you can find everything you want and need in the city centre.”

She said she loved Cape Town so much, she and Simon decided to get married here, after 10 years together.

“We were very enthusiastic about this city. We had all our family over for the wedding.”

When a position opened up at the French consulate, she applied.

“It is very similar to the job I had at the City of Paris, so I was confident that I could carry out the tasks. Now I do communication, and some political work for the consulate.

“I love my work because I get to liaise with French people as well as people from South Africa, which is very interesting for me.”

Comparing the city to France, she said it is much like her home town of Lille.

“You can find anything you want and need, and you can do everything by walking. The city is also very diverse, and its very easy to travel.

“I live in Zonnebloem and I walk to work every day, so the lifestyle is very convenient.”

She said while she feels safe in the city, the situation for women in South Africa isn’t ideal.

“South Africa has a very long way go to protect their women. The numbers of sexual harassment and gender violence cases are shocking.

“However, there are many women who are thriving and have their own businesses, and that gives me hope that Cape Town is a place of opportunities.”