Having transitioned from the islands to the mainland, I might have a few comparisons as well as mention things that might have stood out in the past months.
I am currently an English Language Assistant in Académie de Bordeaux – posted in Bayonne which is about a 2hr train-ride from Bordeaux train station.
The search never stops. I was however very lucky to get a very helpful reference teacher. I currently work in St. Pierre d’Irube but live in Petite Bayonne. This is honestly one of the best locations to stay in, just a 5min walk from Bayonne city center which is really beautiful and lively and most activities take place i.e. Christmas in Bayonne https://www.addikahbelinda.com/2021/12/31/christmas-traditions-in-the-basque-country/
I stay in Lycée Louis de Foix which is a boarding school that also offers accommodation to Language Assistants, so if you are working around the areas of Bayonne, Anglet and Biarritz this is probably a good location. The bus stop is a few steps away. Rent is 100 euros a month, with that you get a room with basic necessities i.e. bed, cupboard, they do offer beddings if needed. The room also has a shower but the toilet is just outside the room. There is no cooking facility available hence the canteen/ dining hall where you will have to pay for the food – 2.81euros per meal and 1.81 for breakfast. There is no food service during the weekend or the school vacations which means you order out which honestly is expensive in my opinion.
Luckily for me I do not have to be buying food all weekends as my Kenyan friend who is also an assistant lives in the neighboring school and has been kind enough to be cooking for both of us. I also made new African friends over Christmas (shout out to you!!) and it has been a lot better as we often share meals during the weekend.
My accommodation too does not come with a laundry machine so you would need to plan for that, there is a laundry mart about 10mins away. Microwave, fridge and any cooking appliances are not allowed, however with the intervention my collège, the lycée got me a microwave – aside from the boiling kettle that is allowed.
On the flip side there is Lycée Cassin where my friend is staying which sadly was already full when I knew about it, but just a few steps away from my lycée. It also offers accommodation for Language Assistants. For 98euros a month as rent, it offers all the basic necessities; communal kitchen with utensils, a fridge, laundry machine and 2 bathrooms and toilets shared among 5 assistants.
In case you are posted around this area and are interested in the above accommodation settings since they are the cheapest anyone can find, I would advice to have your school/ reference teacher write them before your arrival to organize your smooth settlement.
Bayonne town has access to a really good working transport system, so it’s easy and dependable to use public transport to and from work. I am over 25 so the most logical bus subscription is paying 30euros per month for an unlimited bus pass. If one is below 25 then the charges vary as there’s an option of paying 45euros for 3 months. I am however entitled to a half transport refund which is normally added to my salary.
In Reunion the annual bus was 50 euros but I don’t think I was entitled to any refund.
Sidenote – I appreciate how the bus drivers in Bayonne greet the passengers when they enter the bus and bid them farewell when they leave, such good customer service.
I continue to enjoy the French masses and more so now that I live close to the cathedral. One thing though that has stood out in comparison to the churches in the island, majority of the congregants are older folks. The island churches are more vibrant with the youth taking up various animator positions.
…continued in the next article