There is no more romantic working ideal than becoming an au pair in France. Actual work aside, it conjures images of strolling along boulevards, stylishly rocking the beret, fresh, crusty baguette under your arm, wishing the locals a hearty ‘bonjour.’ It’s not all this, but it sure is part of it, so let’s find out just what you can expect from becoming an au pair in the incredible country of France?
What does au pairing in France look like?
Au pairing in France is basically the most immersive way to explore the culture of the country and, bonus, you get paid to do it! Living with a French family and looking after their children while they work means that you don’t have to worry about the costs of accommodation and food, all of this is included, even though you might also be cleaning the house and cooking some of the food.
You get to experience day-to-day life in France, truly immersing yourself in its customs and culture and sharpening up your language skills as you spend your days interacting with the locals. It is the perfect opportunity to become a cherished part of a family’s life, build your confidence, get out there and explore France like a local.
How to become an au pair in France?
There are a wealth of au pair agencies in France and based in many countries around the world that will help you get set up with a French family. This is the key element and different agencies will charge different amounts to set up this placement. Often, all they will offer will be the placement and all other elements, flights, visas, etc, will be up to you to organize yourself.
Working with Global Work & Travel, for example, eliminates all of the additional stresses, providing you with a world-class pairing system as well as preparing you for your position. With online courses, airport transfers, additional accommodation and a unique incompatible family rematch, to make sure you are entirely comfortable when you arrive in France, they are focused on all of the little details so you don’t have to.
Looking for agencies or platforms that give you confidence and support is key for a good work and travel experience in France or anywhere in the world.
Requirements for becoming an au pair in France
Not everyone can just rock up and become an au pair in France. There are very specific requirements, which is fair enough when you are entrusted to look after someone’s children. Each country differs, but to be an au pair in France you must:
- Have 14 days provable child-caring experience
- Have a high school certificate or diploma
- Meet french visa requirements
- Be a non-smoker (yes, even in France!)
- not have suffered from any mental health issues or eating disorders over the previous two years
If this all applies to you, then you are in!
Now, if this does not apply to you, there are still plenty of ways to work and travel, au pairing is not the only way to go. You can take working holidays in many parts of the world, rocking the ski season in Canada, working in Australia at the great barrier reef, or bossing one of the majestic hotels of the USA.
You can volunteer, making a difference in parts of the world where the adventure is more adventurous and the work you do makes a genuine impact on the locals. Help with turtle conservation in glorious Costa Rica, help teach children who don’t have much in the stunning city of Buenos Aires, or help conserve the mindblowing Big 5 in South Africa.
Of course, you can teach English all around the world too, basing yourself in the clash of ultramodern and super traditional in Japan, or pass on those English skills to kids who are desperate to learn in Thailand or Korea. If the au pair doesn’t work out for you, by no means is the end of the line to your working and traveling plans.
Now back to au pairing in France. For the host family, they must be able to provide you with:
- At least one child under the age of 18 to look after
- An individual room for you to stay in
- Enough time to attend a language course during your stay
- Willingness to host you for at least three months
Tasks and Responsibilities of an au pair
An au pair may be asked to perform a wide variety of tasks, and the details of these tasks are ironed out in your au pair contract before joining your family. This legally binding document covers you to ensure that you are not asked to do anything above and beyond, like being left alone with the kids for two weeks while the parents go off to sun themselves.
Typical duties for an au pair in France would be:
- Meal Preparation – Preparing meals and snacks for the children.
- Morning Routine – Waking the children and helping them get dressed, fed and ready for the day
- Transportation – Taking the children to their various activities and clubs around the local area
- Playtime – Keeping the children entertained and happy with games and activities
- Washing – Washing and folding laundry for the children
- Homework – Helping the children with any homework they might have
- Tidying up – Helping to keep the kids’ room clean
- Bedtime – Helping the children get ready for bed
While not an exclusive list, these are the most common tasks that any au pair can expect to undertake during their time in France.
How to travel around as an au pair in France
While getting stuck into the job itself is a great thing, we all really know that traveling and experiencing France and the rest of Europe is the real draw. While you will learn and grow as an au pair, add to your CV, and blossom as a human being, getting out and exploring France is an important part of the experience.
The diversity of France is one of its most appealing aspects and with an excellent rail network you are mere hours away from exploring a completely different side of the country. From chic, historical Paris, bursting with art, to the breathtaking natural splendor of the Alps, winding your way through majestic valleys, breathing in the crispest air known to humanity. Explore fairytale Alsace, the opulence of the Cote d’Azur, or discover the finest rural landscapes in Provence or Languedoc.
And the joy of France is that it is not just one country and culture that is open to you. With a short flight or train journey, you can be in Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy or Switzerland, to name but a few. Europe is compact, unbelievably diverse and you will be living right at the heart of it all.
However, we all know that the finest way to travel is to truly immerse yourself and this is what the au pair experience excels at. You will be staying locally, exploring on a small scale and embedding yourself into French life. There is also the potential for your family to take you with them when they take their summer holiday, so you get to see a whole different part of Europe on the same intricate scale, adding to the complex beauty of your traveling experience.
Staying Safe when au pairing in France
Quite rightly, safety will be a concern before you go, however it has to be noted that becoming an au pair is one of the safest methods of traveling. With your host family as a backup, you have a solid base, locals who know the area well, and a home to return to every night. You will get to know your local area intimately and know if there are places that should be avoided.
It is not only your physical safety that is important, looking after your mental health is essential too. Setting up your au pair experience with experts like Global Work & Travel also means that you have ongoing support throughout your trip, a dedicated travel concierge to help you with your arrangements and a guaranteed family re-match if you don’t feel like it is working out with your original family.
Talking about safety, take some time to read our guide about long-term travel insurance, it might be handy for your au pairing job in France.
Investment and benefits of au pairing in France
Three months in a foreign country, managing a household and a family is an outstanding achievement and we have found that it is often after returning from this type of adventure that people make great strides in figuring out where their life is leading them. We know incredible health care workers, journalists, designers and restauranteurs, all of whom got their spark from immersing themselves in the cultures and customs of another country while au pairing.
Being an au pair looks great when applying for jobs. The amount of responsibility you are assuming, in a completely different country with a new language, customs and culture shows your resilience, your desire to take risks and experience new things which are all extremely desirable qualities for future employees.
It also boosts your self-confidence immeasurably. You will return with the knowledge that people all around the world are the same, that you can talk to anyone from a pauper to a prince and how easy it is to connect no matter how intimidating someone may seem.
What to know before traveling to France
There are a couple of actual, factual elements that will help when traveling to France for your au pair adventure. The obvious ones are knowledge of the language, customs and cultural elements of France, with the language being the most important. The biggest challenge you will face will be the language barrier and while you are allowed time away from your responsibilities to attend language courses, you should arm yourself with at least the basics before you go. Duolingo, Mondly and Rosetta Stone are great apps to help you with this simply and cheaply.
It is also worth reading into the culture of France as it can, at first, seem a little intimidating. People’s mannerisms in France may not be what you are used to. Painting them with a broad brush, French people can appear cold and indifferent. They might mock you for your flawed language skills or seem impatient with you if you do not understand, but this is all just conditioning and is very much surface deep. Once you learn to have as thick a skin as the French themselves you will find them to be fascinating and friendly people, eager to share their love for their country.
We can highly recommend Global Work & Travel, who have been arranging successful au pair trips worldwide since 2008. In that short time, they have become one of the world’s leading work & travel brands assisting over 58,000 travelers to turn travel dreams into reality. Their au pair system is second to none, going deeper than most to ensure that you have not a single worry when you come to book your cultural immersion as an au pair in France.
And if you want to investigate countries other than France, there are plenty of other European opportunities. Au pair in Italy and filling your world with pizza, pasta and parties. Head to au pair in the UK, taking time to explore its incredible cities and wild, untouched spaces. Or discover glorious Spain, the vibrant country where the parties don’t start until the small hours of the morning and social life is lived out on the streets.
You can of course head south and au pair in Australia or New Zealand, giving you time to explore either (or both) without any language challenges. The same could be said for choosing to au pair in either the USA or look after kids in Canada, and all of these excellent au pair opportunities are expertly dealt with on the Global Work & Travel site.
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