TO KNOW | LA RAMONETA OF THE MONTH
© Claire Gallagher
Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we would like to find out why they are living in this beautiful region, what they are doing for a living and some of their Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Claire Gallagher as Ramoneta of the Month.
I’m from Ireland originally. I live in Montpellier (1) with my French husband and 2 Franco-Irish children. I have my own company called Claire Creative (2).
I help business owners to get more leads with their websites. I meet a lot of people who see their website as a hassle or a confusing technical tool, whereas it can be a really valuable tool to get clients. I work one on one with my clients to create websites that they really love and we set up systems so that those sites are attracting clients and bringing money into their business.
Creating a business in France
It all started out pretty simply with the easy-to-set-up Auto Entrepreneur status. It’s when you start earning money that it gets tricky! There’s just so much paperwork! Luckily I have a great support network here in Montpellier. I run a meetup group called “Montpellier Creative” and every month we have a mastermind session with other English-speaking business owners and freelancers. We often share our discoveries about French admin and help each other out when possible.
First time in the region
The first time I came here was when I visited quickly with Thomas back in 2008. I’d been seeing him for a few months, and I came home to meet sa Maman! I fell in love with the place immediately! I’d done my fair share of travelling at that stage, and I loved the intimacy of the centre, the proximity to the beach, the local wines! (and coming from Dublin, the winter sun was a welcome change).
© Claire Gallagher
I moved to Montpellier in 2014. From Dublin, I came to Paris for “a year” to learn French in 2010. I spent four years working there in communications agencies and galleries and really had a wonderful time. When my son was 1, we had the opportunity to move south to be closer to family, and farther from pollution, so we tentatively left the city of lights for the sunny south.
Living in Languedoc
I think it’s a great place to live. Besides having my husband’s family here, the city is very rich in culture. You can easily source local, fresh, seasonal food. And because my work is online anyway, I can work from anywhere. I don’t drive, so the city centre of Montpellier being mostly pedestrianised is a huge plus for me. I can pretty much get anywhere I want by foot or bike.
Best part of living in this area
Winter sun. I love the beach in winter. I love walking by Pic Saint Loup (3) in autumn when the countryside changes colour.
Best Languedoc wine
I’d have to say that the wines from Mas de Brunet (4) are a personal favourite. We often drive up there as a family and stock up directly from the producer.
© Gilles Delerue
Bonobo on Rue Saint Guilhem. They really just have the best coffee, and everything on the menu is delicious. There’s a really warm atmosphere in there. The staff are all English-speaking and just lovely people. With the two children and buzzing business, I don’t often get to go out at night! So I regularly treat myself to a fantastic breakfast there before getting started for the day.
Perfect day out in Languedoc
I love mastermind mornings with the Montpellier Creative group. They’re very driven and insightful people, and I always feel so motivated when I meet with them, so a good day is one that starts with our breakfast meeting. Then I’d stroll down the street and have lunch with friends at Bonobo with a cheeky glass of something on the side. No matter what the season, we often head out as a family to my brother in law’s place in Cazilhac. He runs Le Golf Cazilhac, but don’t be fooled by the name. Yes, it’s a driving range with pitch and putt, but I don’t play often. It’s a beautiful spot. Like a café lost in nature and surrounded by lovingly tended allotment gardens and the Herault River. We’d often go for lunch at the Golf, have a quick dip in the river or visit the nearby horse riding school that has a strong population of peacocks! The children always have a great time there (meaning that the grown-ups can too). One of my favourite times of year in Montpellier is during the contemporary dance festival “Montpellier Danse” so to round off my ideal day, I’d see something in the Opera hall and end the evening with a fabulous cocktail at Papa Doble!