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Talent Stories Interview - Mari-Liis Garcia

Talent Stories Interview - Mari-Liis Garcia

Welcome to the Choose Paris Region Talent Stories series, where we delve into the experiences of expatriates who have chosen to make the vibrant and culturally rich Paris Region their new home.

We are excited to share the story of Mari-Liis Garcia, a dynamic and driven individual whose journey from Estonia to Paris is nothing short of inspiring. From her initial move to the Region as a student to her flourishing career in business and international mobility, Mari-Liis has navigated the challenges and embraced the opportunities of life in Paris Region with remarkable resilience and enthusiasm.

Tell us about your arrival in Paris Region

Before moving to France, I was someone you could consider overly active. I was a full-time Master’s student, an international-level gymnast, and I worked as a trampoline coach and judge 2-3 times a week. Additionally, I spent three nights a week working in a nightclub for five years to support my studies. Planning to work as a high-school English teacher after graduation, I felt a strong need to explore the world before settling into that career. After all, once you're a teacher, you're set for life, right?
Paris was a logical choice for me as I had already spent an Erasmus semester here. That period was the toughest time of my life, and as a competitive soul, I felt the need to come back and leave France on a positive note. So, in June 2012, I moved to Paris with plans to stay for just three months…

Where did you choose to live and why?

I chose Paris because I already knew some people from my Erasmus period, and I also secured a summer job at Disneyland. After the summer, I became a local manager at a language center and taught English in private schools. I lived in Paris for two years before moving to the eastern suburbs, to Noisy-le-Grand, a city with many amenities and a scenic riverbank. Coming from Estonia, I needed to reconnect with nature and enjoy quiet nights without earplugs, which my current hometown offers. I've been living here for the past ten years.

What, according to you, are the perks of living in Paris Region?

The main advantage of living in Paris Region is, of course, access to a vast job market. There’s a wide range of companies to choose from, spanning all industries and sizes.
As an expat, I also appreciate the convenience of international travel, with direct flights back home available six days a week. Access to various medical professionals and excellent transportation options is another significant perk. Even though I live in the suburbs, we have the A4 highway nearby and the reliable RER A suburban train line that runs between Paris and Disneyland.

Your favourite spot?

Well, I do love my hometown! If I had to pick a favorite spot, it would probably be the Parc Départemental de la Haute-Île in Neuilly-sur-Marne. It's perfect for strolls, picnics, yoga sessions, and simply finding peace. I also adore the Fontainebleau Forest, where we have a secret swimming spot. On a daily basis, I enjoy navigating the banks of the Marne River, which are well-equipped for pedestrians and cyclists. I've even cycled to and from Paris using these paths.

What advice would you give a newcomer to make the most of Paris Region?

Preparation is KEY. While there are many perks to living in Paris Region, there are also plenty of challenges. If possible, make several "look and see" trips before the final move. Think about your most important criteria: is it proximity to Paris, peace and quiet, or access to nature? Consider the type of amenities you need. If you have children, think about schools and extracurricular activities.
Having assisted expatriates for seven years, I highly recommend reaching out to professionals, such as relocation agencies. They know the ins and outs of Paris Region and can remove any mental load and administrative obstacles from your path. Honestly, it’s completely worth the investment!

Now that you have been living in Paris Region, what stereotype do you believe to be wrong about the French?

None of them? Haha, there's a bit of truth in every stereotype. Once you get to know the French, you understand how and why these stereotypes have formed. I think I've adopted some of those cultural traits and habits myself over time. The important thing is to accept the differences and be tolerant of them. Each of us has our own characteristics. When in Rome, do as the Romans do…

Tell us about your current job & what do you enjoy the most about working in Paris Region?

I started my own business B2B Growth France 1.5 years ago. I help companies develop communication strategies on LinkedIn and provide training for business owners, as well as HR, Communication & Marketing, and Sales teams.
Additionally, I’m a coordinator for Bienvenue - the French-speaking Relocation Network, which keeps me updated on international mobility matters.
The number of business clubs, networking events, incubators, and accelerators in Paris Region is simply astounding. It's a fantastic environment for anyone looking to venture into the entrepreneurial scene. This also makes it easier to form partnerships and meet new people. Last autumn, I challenged myself to accept all the networking invitations I received. I attended 2-3 events per week for six weeks! While not sustainable long-term, it’s possible to establish many relationships in a short period.

To build on your expertise, what would be the first pieces of advice you would give to business leaders who want to enhance their employer brand in France?

Indeed, with years of experience in international mobility and talent attraction, combined with my expertise in communication and employer branding, I can confidently say that companies should adapt to the local culture rather than trying to copy-paste their existing company culture or business approach when entering France.
My advice is similar to what I give to expatriates: preparation is key. Surround yourself with professionals who understand the local business environment. The official partners of Choose Paris Region, of which I am a proud member, are an excellent starting point.
Be open to change and don’t expect that everything you’re used to will work in France. You won't be able to change the society; instead, you need to adapt to it.


Mari-Liis Garcia's story gives us a positive look on how to embrace new challenges and cultures. Her journey highlights the importance of preparation, adaptability, and a willingness to immerse oneself in the local culture. We hope her insights and advice inspire other expatriates and entrepreneurs to make the most of their time in this dynamic Region.

If this story inspired you to make the move and settle in the Region, check out our Living in Paris Region page. Don’t forget to explore the entire Talent Stories series.