Looking for an English electrician in the Mayenne? Then let me introduce you to Mr Paul Punchard! Paul now lives in Laval, Mayenne but his first home in the Mayenne was an old farmhouse in Deux-Evailles. Paul’s work takes him all over the department and he is registered and insured for all electrical and plumbing work as well as renovations.
Before coming to France, he did a 5 year apprenticeship in electrical installation. In 1982 he was the top Uk apprentice out of 11000 candidates. And through further education and training, he was awarded a Certificate of Licentiateship from the City and Guilds of London Institute . Paul even won an all expenses paid trip to Europe, as an ambassador for the Uk electrical industry. It was during this trip , particularly Paris and La Rochelle, that his love affair with France began.
He was born in Wandsworth London, but most of his adult life was spent in the Hertfordshire area. Before moving to France, Paul ran a successful electrical installation and shopfitting business with 5 employees.
His first property was a holiday home in Mayenne in 1991. A family member already had a holiday home in the Mayenne, and it’s proximity to ferries and transport links were a deciding factor. Not many people had heard of the Mayenne in those days. Belonging to the Pays de La Loire, but sandwiched between the more expensive areas of Normandy and Brittany. The catalyst for moving to France was in 1997 when one of his major UK clients went into liquidation. This gave Paul the freedom to close his UK business. Already owning a house here, and with 2 pre-school children, it was an opportunity for a better lifestyle. In 1998 he took the plunge and moved his family to France. This year, (2023), marks his 25th year living in the Mayenne.
Running a business
Originally he ran a small building and renovations company with three full time employees from 2001 until 2015. The company carried out many full house renovations throughout the department. In fact, Paul’s firm were the first “General Builders” to be registered at the Chambre des Métiers in Laval. When one of the employees retired in 2014, Paul downsized the business. He decided to concentrate on his core activities of Electrical and Plumbing works and internal renovations and room creation. He keeps up to date with all the French regulations and attends refresher courses. So you won’t find a more qualified English electrician in the Mayenne!
Now divorced and with 2 grown up, bilingual daughters, Paul enjoys a variety of hobbies. He attends weekly lessons for “Bachata” (a latin-style dance originating in the Dominican republic). He is also an amateur photographer. At one point he had an aerial photography business in the uk using a helium filled blimp. These days, Paul has a drone but purely for leisure purposes. And he makes sure he abides by the French licensing laws and legislation. He enjoys travel and has discovered the amazing cycle paths throughout the Mayenne. He passed his motorcycle test 5 years ago and so also enjoys the freedom of motorbiking in France.
You may recognise him as a member of the executive committee of EuroMayenne. This is an association for all Europeans in the department to meet socially. A keen Francophone, he participates in language workshops. Recently, he submitted his dossier to apply for French nationality.
When asked “What is the best thing about living here?” he replied, “There are pluses and minuses of course. But things that come to mind include, civility and kindness of people in general. People matter more than possessions. It’s relatively crime free in rural areas, less traffic and well kept roads, with virtually no potholes. There are beautiful parks and gardens, and affordable parking.
And his advice for someone considering moving to the Mayenne? “You really need to learn the language. If you REALLY put the effort in, you will be rewarded. Spend six months or a year renting before you buy to make sure it’s for you. And buy a big filing cabinet ! You’re gonna need it. And most importantly: Don’t underestimate the cost of renovation !”