We get through to Marc Jolly on the phone with six hours’ time difference in Mills River, USA. There, he is currently optimising processes at the Norafin production facility, which opened in 2018.

Mr Jolly, it’s great of you to take time for us. Did you have a good flight to the USA? Yes, it was three hours late, but I got here fine.

Seen from that great distance, what does “home” mean to you? Feeling at ease, being in a suitable setting where you can get ahead, including your family. Even if everything may not always be perfect, you have to be able to help shape and adapt things.


Where a handshake still means something

Is that something you can do better in the Ore Mountains or in France? In the Ore Mountains, I found my own personal version of that. I liked the fact that a handshake still means something here. The point is to achieve something, not just to talk about it. The countryside here is lovely, too: there are lots of opportunities to go out and do sports. Now, I would choose to stay here even apart from work, as I simply feel good here.

How does your family see their home: in Saxony and the Ore Mountains, or are their roots in France? Back then, we’d bought a house in France and actually only wanted to go to the Ore Mountains for four years. Then we moved back to France and found after six months that it was unfortunately not working out as we had imagined. It was clear to my wife and me that the Ore Mountains were our new homeland! That was a joint decision, not just mine alone. By then, our children had spent half their lives in Germany. They said, “Finally, we can go home!”


Education, sport and the landscape – uniquely perfect.

What did you find in Saxony that they don’t have elsewhere? At first, I was just here to work. Then I discovered the people, of course, the landscape, the Ore Mountains, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and two beautiful cities nearby: Dresden and Leipzig. On top of that, there is an excellent school system and the opportunity to pursue a variety of sports. In Oberwiesenthal there are excellent conditions for really good athletes in all fields. Another important point was that there are opportunities for personal development everywhere, such as the universities in Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig, to name just three examples. Saxony comes out very well in that regard, both in Germany and internationally.

Which sports do you do outdoors? I cycle a lot, do cross-country skiing and paragliding – the conditions are perfect for that here. My children also love winter sports.

What does France have that the Ore Mountains don’t? The food culture is different, and also the wine culture. People simply do things differently here: not worse, just differently. You soon learn to deal with it.

What about the accent in the Ore Mountains: do you understand everything and do people understand you ? Yes and no to both questions. I do understand a lot here, but when my friends talk in the local accent at full speed, I get left behind. But they speak standard German with me. In conversation, I get on pretty well with the accents from all the villages and valleys here. They don’t even understand each other properly, which always makes me feel better. I often repeat myself so that people understand me clearly. I can also speak a little Ore Mountain dialect.


“People come up with all sorts of reasons just so they can visit us.”
Marc Jolly

Do you dream in German or in French? Quite often in German, lately. Recently, I was cheering on my child doing sports, and videoed it. It was only when I watched it that I realised I’d been speaking German to him, though we normally speak French. I hadn’t even noticed. 

How often do you visit your family in France? Once a year. The family also come here regularly. They like the Ore Mountains a lot and think the region is simply great. One weekend there were 16 people here from all over France to celebrate my son’s birthday. Also, another French guy started work in our company a year ago, and he lives in the Ore Mountains.

How did you get in touch? He contacted us and applied for an internship. Then my colleagues recommended him; I wasn’t even involved, I just gave him the green light. Everything went very well and then we hired him. 

Has he already settled in well? Yes, definitely. He feels very happy here, and his girlfriend has come too, it's just great.

Then there’ll soon be a little French enclave in the Ore Mountains?  That’s what we said, too. The main thing is that people fit in well and find a nice corner to settle down here.

Thank you for the interview and good luck with the second production facility in the USA!

Photo credits: Marc Jolly, Boris Kaiser/Regionalmanagement Erzgebirge