You Are an Authentic Bellifontain When…

Jacqueline Liao

A Bellifontain is an inhabitant of Fontainebleau, the small French town where INSEAD is located, and part of the MBA experience is about adjusting to life here – not exactly French life, but Bellifontain life, which is a very particular subset of the French culture.

As the seasons change, let’s say you are an authentic Bellifontain when:

You complain that there is nothing to do in Fontainebleau, but your schedule is always full.

With 15,000 inhabitants, there is only one cinema, a few restaurants, three bars and one theatre. At first glance, there are not many distractions, but as time goes by, you start to appreciate the little things that only a campus life can provide – cycling to school, buying fresh food at the farmer’s market, and meeting your friends every day.

You have no idea of the random schedules of restaurants and shops.

Shops are closed on Sundays, and restaurants on Mondays, but at any given moment of the day they may be closed as well, according to the mood of the owner. It is a small town, enjoy the moment and don’t try to pace your life!

You buy food from the Dumpling Lady.

This self-made entrepreneur of Fontainebleau takes orders on a Google Spreadsheet until Tuesday, and delivers on Thursday at INSEAD’s parking lot. With dumplings as her chef d’oeuvre, she has saved the dinners of students from all nationalities, thanks to a menu written in English and Chinese – all while keeping her identity completely anonymous (at least for non-Chinese speakers).

You promise yourself you will go to the castle soon, but you never go.

As the former residence of the kings of France, the Château de Fontainebleau is probably the main magnet that drives visitors to the town (INSEAD is likely the second), and hence you are excited to go there at some point. But not next week, because there are house parties with classmates, exhibitions in Paris, or European cities to travel to, while the castle will always be there. As you push the date further and further, you realise you are graduating or moving to Singapore in one week, and you haven’t been there yet.

You meet an INSEAD classmate in every corner.

If you walk for twenty minutes downtown, you will cross two to there people on the way, and pass in front of four to five people’s house. As weird as it may be in the beginning for someone who has lived in large cities, it is nice to know there is always someone out there to share a meal, enjoy a walk in the forest, or help you out with the house. It is this sense of tight-knit community that makes Fontainebleau a place that epitomises INSEAD’s culture.

Find out about both INSEAD campuses on the twin article, “You are an authentic Singaporean when…