We had the opportunity to speak with Ms Céline Jones, who has just been appointed Honorary Consul to Wales. It was the perfect time to find out more about her career path and the challenges that lie ahead with her new position.
Q. How long have you lived in Wales?
A. It’s been 14 years now since I moved there.
Q. What led you to go there the first time?
A. I was in my fourth year of law school when I decided to boost my CV with experience at a UK law firm. Very soon the opportunity arose for me to pursue a legal education at the University of Bristol, which was simply too good to turn down.
Q. What do you particularly like about living in Wales / Cardiff?
A. It is undeniable that I miss France very much every day. This almost visceral homesickness is nevertheless compensated by the kindness of the Welsh people, which is unsurpassed. Life in Wales is both simple and dynamic. Cardiff is a young, vibrant and ever-changing city. It is also a place where family life is respected, where physical and mental health are given priority, in short it is a real little paradise.
Q. What about trade relations between Welsh and French companies?
A. They’re important. For example, in 2018, with my friend Dan Langford OBE, I created “Le Club”, a business centre whose aim is to promote Franco-Welsh business relations. Since its creation, “Le Club” has been a huge success and now has almost 200 members.
Q. Can you now tell us about your new duties as Honorary Consul, when were you appointed?
A. I was appointed in October 2020. So my nomination is still quite recent.
Q. What was the process you had to go through to be appointed?
A. I was recommended by my predecessor, Ms. Marie Brousseau-Navarro, following a meeting with the French Consulate in London.
Q. What are the tasks attached to your new position?
The primary function of an Honorary Consul is to ensure the protection of French nationals in difficulty and their interests, whether they are residents or visitors. It acts as an administrative relay for the consulates.
The Honorary Consul is also an important link for economic and cultural diplomacy. Detailed knowledge of one’s region and of the political, economic and cultural players is invaluable for French operators and as such, The Honorary Consul is regularly called upon by the various departments of the Embassy.
Q. What are your aspirations/ hopes/ desires for your new position?
A. My predecessor was a wonderful Honorary Consul, and I hope to live up to her. I would like to continue to move forward with her idea of creating an annual event around the14th July, a “French week in Wales” which would bring together schools, businesses and politicians to promote French culture in Wales. I would also like to promote the learning of the French language in schools from an early age.
Q. What are the main challenges you will face?
A. The current climate is very complicated and stressful for French expats. Brexit and the health crisis will certainly keep me busy.
Q. How was the (second) lockdown in Wales? Were there any differences with the rest of the country?
A. Like Scotland, Wales has drawn up its own action plan to respond to the health crisis. So there were a lot of differences with England, even if the objectives are the same. The second lockdown only lasted two weeks here, one of which was during the school holidays.