During each school holiday period, we face the same puzzle: How to get my children looked after? How to keep them entertained for two weeks in Paris while you have to work? And let’s not talk about the summer break! After two weeks of a family vacation, a week with their grandparents, what will they do for the remaining five weeks?
We scour the various ads and offers, opt for summer camps, then a few days at home and, if we’re lucky, a friend’s parents take them for a week to the beach… But sixteen weeks of school holidays every year asks for a lot of organization and a few good ideas!
Thankfully, in Paris and all of the big metropolitan cities of France, several options do exist. Depending on what you look for, your needs, your wants, your children’s age, your priorities, and your budget: nurseries, schools or recreation centers, babysitters, nannies or Au pairs, fully immersive English vacation camps at The Garden Academy…
Let’s take a look at the different child care options available in Paris during the school holidays.
Nurseries for the Toddlers
Up to 3 years old, nurseries may be one of the options worth pursuing, as they will allow your children to familiarize themselves with life in a community while being supervised by an experienced and properly trained team. In addition to municipal nurseries, company nurseries exist that will, during the Summer months, open their network to all parents. If the municipal nursery isn’t available, those may be options worth considering. You may be able to find a spot in one of those company nurseries for the same price as a municipal one (prices established depending on your familial quota. All information regarding this quota can be found on your Caf account).
Recreation Centers in Paris
If one had to give a counterpart to nurseries for older kids, it would be recreation centers. Paris sports a number of various centers ready to welcome your children during school holidays. Children ages 3 to 5 can go to the centers tied to preschools, while children ages 6 to 14 are taken care of in those attached to elementary schools. Registration is made by the day or half-day, and you should be able to find a center in your district… As long as you act quickly! Registration is only open 30 days before the holidays, and the spots are, quite literally taken by storm!
Recreation centers are pleasant places for children: they remind them of recess and allow them to play and have fun with other children. Qualified staff will also supervise them, a team of a director and animators all with a youth work qualification (BAFA). This team will offer physical and manual activities depending on the infrastructure available to them.
The recreation centers’ programs are all integrated with the City of Paris’ education project surrounding various themes such as reading and expression, the scientific culture and method, or cultural learning.
Babysitting, for One-Off Childcare
For those looking to enjoy a night out with friends, an evening at a restaurant or a play, you may need someone once or twice to look after your children for a few hours or even for a few half days during the holidays. In that case, you may call upon a babysitter or nanny that would come to your home. Ads and offers for those services are plentiful, but you will need to sift through them carefully and be vigilant regarding your final choice. While making your selection, you need to be clear about your expectations and recommendations, and detail the task you want to entrust the babysitter with (homework, meal preparation, etc. …). We recommend that you favor nannies with prior babysitting experience and do not hesitate to ask for references in those cases. You can also submit your own ad or rely on specialized companies that will vouch for the candidates. Concerning declaration and remuneration for your babysitter, the easiest solution remains the universal service employment check.
The Au Pair Girl
If you are looking for a more regular solution all throughout the year or for part or the entirety of the Summer holidays, you may like the au pair solution. This system, based on an exchange of courtesies, can only function if you are able to house the au pair girl or boy, that is to say at the very least a personal room for their use only.
And so a young foreign man or woman would come live with you for the duration of the summer holidays to take care of your children and learn the language. In exchange for their services, you will provide them with lodging, meals as well as an allowance.
You can find specialized agencies that help set up prospective au pairs with French families. We recommend that you get in touch with one such agency, as there are many regulations surrounding the au pair status. Au pairs are not employees, but will be part of your family! Their workload cannot exceed 30 hours per week. Concerning their pay, the “allowance” amount may vary from 65€ minimum to 100€ maximum per week and is subject to tax reduction.
The Grandparents Option
If you have the possibility and the chance to be able to entrust your children to people you can trust, in this instance grandpa and grandma, it may be one of the solutions to consider for the next holidays. Of course, the cost will be far lesser than other childcare options, and most importantly the emotional bond between your children and their grandparents could even be strengthened. But the limits of this solution become rapidly evident: you cannot abuse your elders’ patience and kindness! Those days spent together need to remain a pleasure and cannot exceed a few days, a few weeks at most, during the year.
The Garden Academy: Fun and Immersive English Vacation
If you need someone to look after your children during the school holidays, The Garden Academy offers English vacation camps for children ages 3 to 10 years old during every school holiday period. Your children will be welcomed from 8:30 to 18:20 from Monday through to Friday in one of our 3 Parisian centers, where they will discover English in a fun and immersive way.
100% immersive, more effective than standard English classes.
The fully immersive environment of our camps allows for better assimilation of the English language. All of our teachers are native English speakers, which will help improve your children’s understanding and English speaking skills of your children, with the support of fun and engaging activities.
Every Week Gets its Own Theme
Music, science, reading, arts & crafts, sports & games. All of our workshops are organized around a different theme depending on the week. From the United States Route 66 to the Middle Ages through myths and legends or underwater life, The Garden Academy gives your children the opportunity to learn English while developing their overall culture, their taste for traveling through space and time, their desire for discovery, and their intellectual curiosity. The Garden Academy give your children the opportunity to improve their creativity, motor skills, logical thinking, and offers them a real experience that will accompany them throughout their development.
If your children are already registered in one of our three centers in Paris in the 15e, 7e, or 5e arrondissements, the week-long vacation camp will cost you 340€. For parents not yet registered, it will cost them 390€ + 50€ application fees for the first registration only. This will then open up the opportunity to register for all of our programs and particularly our vacation camps at 340€ for the week. You should also be aware that you will benefit from a tax benefit for this childcare option, the tax credit coming up to 50% of the amount paid.