Chapter 1: A New Beginning – Julie’s Influence

In 2005, at the age of 23, I reached a major milestone in my life. For the first time, I left the family nest in France to venture into the unknown thousands of kilometers away from home, in Toronto. This city, a symbol of opportunity and diversity, awaited me. But for a young man with little life experience, this move represented much more than just a change of address. It was the beginning of my adult life, a leap into a new world where everything was to be built: finding accommodation, looking for a job, speaking English daily, and above all, learning to live independently.

It was thanks to Julie, the other co-founder of, that my life took a decisive turn; it was she who gave me the idea of starting anew. In life, we cross paths with people who become pillars, architects of our destiny. She is undoubtedly one of those significant figures in my story. I often wonder what my life would have been like without this pivotal meeting, because following my Working Holiday Visa, I stayed in Canada for more than 15 years and because this departure abroad gave birth to, the most important professional project of my life. Her desire to go to Canada (and to take me with her :-D) changed my view of the world, of myself, and what I could achieve.

In France, my lack of qualifications would have been a considerable hindrance. I am self-taught and have loved to undertake projects since my youngest age. The traditional frameworks of education never really suited me; I found studies boring, too rigid. In a country like France, where degrees and academic paths are often seen as essential keys, my road would have been fraught with obstacles, to put it politely 🙂

Canada, on the other hand, welcomed me open-mindedly with opportunities that allowed me to thrive. It was there that I was given my chance in computing and that I was able to fully dedicate myself to

Chapter 2: The First Steps

The first months in Toronto were a mix of fascination and challenges (my interview on this subject). The city, with its sparkling skyscrapers and cultural buzz, was impressive. My greatest challenge was the language barrier. Having arrived without speaking English, every day was a struggle to understand and be understood. Simple conversations were mountains to climb, and job hunting seemed an endless quest. The first six months were a struggle, but gradually I began to adapt. Each word learned, each sentence constructed was a small victory!

If you are like me, not very comfortable with English, I strongly advise you, before leaving or upon arriving in Canada, to invest in English courses (we have discounts at several schools). They can reduce the cultural and linguistic shock and help you adapt more quickly to your new environment. It will also allow you to seize opportunities that might escape you because of the language barrier.

Also try to change your habits when watching movies or series. For example, replacing the French dubbing with the original English is a good starting point to train your ear. And if you have already seen the movie, I also advise you to put the subtitles in English.

I speak from experience, as arriving in a new country without being able to understand or express oneself is a trial that can seriously shake your confidence and make everything more complicated, as was the case for me during my WHV. That’s why I want to share this piece of advice with you: do not underestimate the importance of linguistic preparation. It may seem obvious to some, but for others, the impact of the language barrier only becomes real once confronted with the reality on the ground.

Chapter 3: Flourishing

Over the years, Toronto became more than an adopted city. It became my home. I forged bonds, built my career, and above all, I learned to love this city and its diversity. I saw Toronto evolve, grow, just like me. I experienced moments of joy, success, but also periods of doubt and difficulty. Each experience, good or bad, contributed to shaping the person I have become.

Chapter 4: The Return – Between Apprehension and Revelation

My desire to return to France was motivated by a multitude of factors, but one of the most decisive was the birth of my daughter. Becoming parents radically changes your perspective on life and what you want for your family. With the arrival of our child, the importance of family, of being close to our loved ones, became more evident than ever. Living far from them, especially during difficult periods like Covid-19, made this distance even more burdensome.

The pandemic disrupted our daily lives and highlighted the importance of having a family support network. Travel restrictions and successive lockdowns made us realize how vital it is to have strong and accessible family ties, especially when it comes to raising a child. The prospect of seeing our child grow up without the regular presence of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins had become unthinkable.

In addition to the family aspect, the return to France was influenced by a deep desire to reconnect with our culture. We greatly missed French gastronomy, with all its authentic flavors and diversity. “Good food”, more than a simple gustatory pleasure, represents a central element of our culture and our art of living.

We also missed France’s cultural and historical richness. The old stone, the historical monuments, the museums, and the history omnipresent in every city and village of France constitute an invaluable heritage. It’s an environment that we wanted our child to discover and appreciate.

In short, our decision to return to France was driven by a mix of family, cultural, and personal reasons. It was a whole, a combination of factors that, together, created an irresistible call to our country of origin. This return was a choice of the heart, an aspiration to find our roots, our family, our culture, and to offer our child a rich and fulfilling living environment.

The idea of returning to France, after 18 years in Toronto, was tinged with a certain apprehension. From Canada, I followed the French news (and there has been a lot in recent years!)… This contributed to forging a rather negative image of France, a country I no longer recognized, despite my first 23 years spent in Nanterre, a suburb that many would qualify as sensitive. I had the impression of having left a country that had become unrecognizable.

Yet, contrary to my expectations, my return proved to be much easier than I imagined. One of the first things that struck me was how freely people express themselves, their ability to speak without censoring themselves, their willingness to listen to one another, regardless of whether they agree or not.

I had to leave to realize how extraordinary France is (even though I know that everything is not perfect here), especially with its health care system. This realization did not happen in a vacuum, but through personal and direct experience. With my daughter, my partner and I had to navigate the labyrinth of the health world, faced with the need for multiple medical examinations. It’s in this context that I was able to measure the real value of the French health care system.

In France, the procedures for having specialized consultations and thorough examinations turned out to be surprisingly smooth. Each step of our daughter’s medical journey was marked by efficiency and attention. The doctors were competent and accessible. The waiting times, often criticized by the French themselves, seemed reasonable to us, especially in comparison with some of our experiences in Canada.

What struck me the most was the coverage of costs by health insurance. Treatments, consultations, examinations, even the most advanced, were covered. In Canada, although the healthcare system is of quality, the coverage is not as comprehensive, and some expenses can weigh heavily.

Living these moments in France, seeing my daughter receive the care she needed without us having to worry about the costs, made me realize the importance of a solid and accessible health care system for all, an aspect that I had perhaps undervalued before.

This return to France, beyond the cultural rediscovery, was a lesson in humility and gratitude. I learned to appreciate aspects of my country that I had neglected or taken for granted.

I certainly do not regret my years in Canada. Each country has its qualities and flaws. But, after 18 years in Toronto, I admit that the prevailing political correctness eventually weighed on me. The first ten years, this constant harmony, this world without conflict, had appealed to me. It was the opposite of what I had known and, as the saying goes, the grass always seems greener on the other side. Perhaps with time I’ll miss this political correctness again, but for now, I find a certain charm in the blunt frankness of my fellow Frenchmen. A gruff waiter, a saleswoman who doesn’t mince her words… Oddly enough it puts a smile on my face. It’s an authenticity I had forgotten, an aspect of French culture that I quite like.

This return to France is therefore a rediscovery, a new chapter where I am re-learning to appreciate the nuances of my native country. I am rediscovering France, its imperfections, its passions, and its unique character, with a new perspective.

Chapter 5: A New Horizon

Now that I am back in France, I realize that I am no longer the same person as in 2005. I am here now with a wealth of new experiences, I speak English, and I have a host of incredible memories. I am ready for this new start, and I know that everything I experienced in Toronto will stay with me forever. My stay in Canada really changed my way of seeing things, and I’m eager to see how it will play out in my life here in France.

To conclude, there is no perfect country. I am now Franco-Canadian and I love both my countries, one educated me by giving me solid foundations and the other gave me extraordinary opportunities. I realize how much my experiences in these two countries are a tremendous blessing. If you learn to embrace your surroundings and adapt to change, you can feel at home anywhere in this world.


I am the co-founder of pvtistes and I went on a Working Holiday Visa to Canada in Toronto from September 2005 to June 2022 (17 years).
If you are interested in my journey, you can check out my interview :

Je suis le cofondateur de pvtistes et je suis parti en PVT au Canada à Toronto de septembre 2005 à juin 2022 (17 ans).
Si mon parcours t'intéresse, tu peux consulter mon interview :

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