French expartiates in Lisbon share with us…
Anne and Antoine moved to Portugal to start their new business: Maison Legrand. They were looking for a better way of living by creating a quality restaurant with the French “savoir-vivre”. They created a “lifestyle” concept mixed with good food, conviviality and service.
What is Maison Legrand?
“When we first arrived in Portugal, we were charmed by this country and its incredible food and products, that were unknown for us. We fell in love with the Portuguese lifestyle. People there take time to enjoy life and the streets are full of life.
On the contrary, we are quite surprised by the lack of professionalism in restaurants and disappointed by a few AirBnB experiences that advertised as hotels but with no service provided. Portuguese cuisine in very interesting but can be sometimes a little boring and greasy.
That’s why we created Maison Legrand. A Portuguese company with the French “savoir-vivre”. We offer different services such as: a house chef, catering and cooking classes. We revisit famous Portuguese and French dishes by focusing of fresh, local and seasonal produces. Our plus: a quality customized service. Our priority: satisfy our clients at 100%.
As a former lawyer, I wanted to develop a cleverer business in hotels and hospitality, an activity that we both love. We first started as a consulting company to help Portuguese restaurants and hotels that struggle with their development and management. We take care of everything from the management to the business plan and we also create a lifestyle adapted to their clientele and we also take part in staff training.
Finally, we developed an in-house B&B. One bedroom with view of the river where we offered to our clients: calm, serenity and a good breakfast. Our clients often ask us for a take-away dinner. Our plus: our food and visits tips that make our clients’ stay even more enjoyable.”
What are the reasons that made you move to Portugal?
“We left France early 2015 and went on a road trip for a year. Legrand Foodtrip was the occasion for us to leave our country smoothly. Even if we knew we wanted to go abroad, we still weren’t sure about the country.
So we travelled through South America where we had this idea to learn from local chefs, hotels and organic farms. Then we created Pop Up Dinners all throughout our trip, we were then able to introduce our new cuisine to people. Then we travelled through Europe on a motorcycle. It’s only when we arrived in the Alentejo area that you fell in love with Portugal. Africa only 2 hours from France. Then Lisbon, European capital the size of a village. Full of history, cosmopolite and reconstruction. We had the feeling everything was possible here. And we also quickly understood the advantages of this country: great produces, good bread, fantastic cheese and wine (very important for French people), sweet and juicy organdies, great coffee on every street corner, but also a calm and easy lifestyle, sea, hunting and simplicity. Overall, a paradise.”
What is you feeling as a citizen of Lisbon?
“Lisbon is an extraordinary city. We love every bit of it. Every neighborhood is its own village where everybody knows and helps one another. We live in Graça, a neighborhood up on one of Lisbon’s 7 mountains, where we can enjoy the Mirador de Senhora du Monte, which offers one of the best panoramic views in the city. Every day, we enjoy the fresh air, the sun and the sea. The city is changing. A lot a buildings are under construction and there are a lot of tourists in the summer. But the city still has a lot of secrets places to hide and be alone.
When it comes to restaurants, we find that there is still a lot to be done. Even though the young Portuguese chef generation in growing, it is still very small compared to other European cities. But what’s best about Portuguese cooking: grilled fish from the catch of the today.”
What are your advice to other expatriates?
“It is important for expats to fit in. A lot of French people see Portugal as a great investment country with an advantageous tax system and often forget that it is a different country than theirs. Portuguese are very proud and can get upset easily. It is important to understand their practices and customs. It was important for us to learn the language. We learned Portuguese in a few months and now its easy for us to interact with the community.
Expats should not come to Portugal with stereotypes and misconception about the people here. No, Lisbon is not the new Eldorado. For a lot of Portuguese, life here is very expansive and have low salary (minimum income is 500 €). It is important to accept the Portuguese people and to adjust to their rhythm, and not the other way around.
Portugal can seem difficult because it is different from France or other countries but here the motto is CALMA. People are very easy-going and have a hard time accepting people that are not. So just breath, relax and enjoy the sun, sardines and the sea. We’re in a Southern country, we can feel it, so might as well enjoy it…”
You can find Maison Legrand on their website www.maison-legrand.com, on their Facebook page « Maison Legrand Lisbonne » or on their Instagram account « Legrand_foodtrip » yo find out a little more about Anne et Antoine.
Maison Legrand : Rua de sao gens, 10, 1170-338 Lisbonne