Moving To France With Young Children
Moving to France with young children is an exciting and also a daunting prospect. Here is a short, practical guide to help you find the support you need to relocate with the least amount of stress.
France has a high percentage of working parents and mothers returning to work as it has a strong infrastructure of childcare, which are easily available and at a reasonable cost.
Childcare options and Assistant(e) Maternelle
Depending on the age of your child, you have a variety of options available. A trip down to your local mairie’s office (town hall) will reveal a treasure trove of useful information.
The mairie keep a list of registered assistant(e) maternelle (licenced childcare providers), professionals to care for your child in their home. These individuals have received 120 hours of training by the French State in areas such as first aid, hygiene and their home has been assessed for safety and child-friendliness with a maximum number of children determined.
The mairie will also be able to provide you with a list of independent non-profit associations organizing parent and baby activities as well as clubs for older children in local churches or communal halls. The range of activities is vast, with activities ranging from baby and parent music discovery to sailing for older children.
Nounous and Babysitting Agencies in France
Babysitting websites in France can be useful to find occasional or regular babysitters or you may decide to hire regular help through a reputable professional services agency. The agency will meet with you to discuss your requirements, either a regular babysitter or a nounou (nanny) to collect your older children from school and drive them to their périscolaire (extracurricular) activities and even make them dinner. The agency may visit your home and will match your family’s needs with a vetted nounou.
In such an instance, a monthly fee is payable to the agency in addition to the nounou’s salary and sécurité sociale (social security) payments. This option is one of the most expensive available to families, however, the agency will provide you with an attestation (certificate), allowing you to receive a partial tax rebate.
Crèches in France
State and private Crèche facilities are available for very young children aged between 0-3, prior to them starting at école maternèlle (nursery school) to help non-working parents/mothers. State crèche are affordable options with fees based on a sliding scale dependent on your household income.
Centre Aéré (Recreational Centres) in France
Working parents in need of more regular daycare are able to register their children at a local centre aéré, (recreation center). This information is easily found at the mairie or the Internet. Your child may attend every day or on regular days during term time before and/or after school, with monitors accompanying children to and from the local State schools.
During the school holidays, the centre aéré organizes plenty of activities based around a central theme and with plenty of imagination to keep the children occupied. As the centre aéré is a not-for-profit association, it is an affordable option with the fees based on a sliding scale dependent on your household income.
If you are living in a rural part of France, the Association Familles Rurales (AFR) is likely to be the non-profit organization that welcomes your children to their centre aéré and their périscolaire activities.
Maison de la Jeunesse et de la Culture (MJC)
Your local MJC (Maison de la Jeunesse et de la Culture) has a multitude of classes and sports for you to choose from, ranging from baby gym to capoeira for older children or Russian language for adults. The schedule of classes becomes available on their website well before classes commence in September. The classes and activities are very popular so keep an eye out for the inscription date around June so as not to be disappointed.
Private Childcare and Activities
Your local area may have private health clubs or other organizations that provide their own version of childcare, be it babysitting while you are working out in the gym, périscolaire during term time or kids’ clubs during school holidays. Private options are likely to be considerably more expensive than the State provided alternatives.
Family Life in France
Whether you’re moving to France with family or planning to raise a family in France, FrenchEntrée is here to help! Our Essential Reading articles cover everything from maternity and childcare to the French education system to caring for elderly relatives.
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By Samira Malik
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