France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquility.
What is an Au Pair?
An Au Pair is a ‘big sister’ who lives in France as an extended member of their Host Family.
These young women provide child care services in exchange for room, board, a weekly stipend, and contributions towards a French language course.
Most Au Pairs participate in the Au Pair Program for the valuable cultural experience of living with a French family and are treated more as a member of the family than as an employee.
See what other Au Pairs’ experiences are like!
Here’s Elizmari Gryffenberg’s story about her experience in France!
Au Pairing in France
By Elizmari Gryffenberg
At first, I had my heart set on au pairing in the United States. With all the media that we see every day, concentrated on the Union Jack of Freedom, I barely glanced at the other countries. But I wasn’t that excited about going. I have always been taken by culture, by art, by history, by music, by this entire world of what I believe gives life its essence. I saw the country France as an option on Carla’s website, and had an epiphany. Fireworks. Flashing lights.
I wanted to live in France.
The idea was so magical, that it didn’t seem possible. I constructed so many obstacles in my mind, for example: How am I going to survive the language barrier? How does one even learn a new language? What about the culture difference? What if I don’t fit in in this strange European country with their pastries and their snails? What if the people are really as terrible as everyone says? How will I survive?
Looking back, I laugh that any other country except France was even an option.
Learning a new language is challenging, but ultimately so rewarding and fun. I cannot even begin to explain the feeling of understanding something flawlessly when it was gibberish to you only months ago.
The French culture is definitely one to get used to, as the differences between South Africa and France are vast, but it’s an absolute adventure rather than a shock. For example, you will not believe the way the French eat. Two of the four meals a day consist of pastries, biscuits and chocolate. And yet, the French, unlike me, gain absolutely no weight. What is their secret, you may ask? For that I advise you to go and find out yourself (although it doesn’t work for me – I suspect the Afrikaans metabolism to be defective).
As for the people… the French are considered cold and snobby. Outward appearances give evidence to this, but that simply cannot be trusted. It may take a bit more time to befriend someone French, but once it’s done you have a friend for life. Small tip: always be extremely polite and try not to be an annoying tourist, and you’re golden.
To be honest, I didn’t au pair because I wanted to take care of children at first. I au paired because I wanted to see a different country, to live the way foreigners lived. And I did exactly that. I was lucky to have great kids! Don’t stop au pairing if you have a bad experience, look into transferring families instead. Taking care of them felt like hanging out with my own siblings. I had a lovely studio separate from the family, so I was free to explore Paris in my own free time. And explore I did. And fall in love I did.
And stay in Paris… I did.
I am now currently studying my Bachelor’s in Cultural Mediation at L’Ecole d’Art et de Culture. I have an apartment with a view of the (distant) Eiffel Tower. I speak fluent French. I have made tons of friends, both French and other au pairs. I have forged memories that will last a lifetime.
Of course, I’m not saying that everyone who au pairs in France will stay in France, but still.
I am the testimony of the opportunities Carla’s Au Pairs can provide you. I am so grateful for Carla, who always believed that I would do well in France, who always supported me and helped me when times were rough. (When the paperwork became unbearable.) Without this wonderful program, I would never be where I am today.
Vive La France !
Real talk – Au Pair in France
Au Pair Requirements
- You must be 18-29 years old.
- Have a driver’s license.
- Have Grade 12 or equivalent.
- Have childcare experience.
- Knowledge of French is not compulsory, but recommended.
- Have a love for kids & be caring.
- Agree to commit for one full year.
- Be in good physical and emotional health.
- South African citizenship.
- Unmarried & no kids of your own.
- No criminal record.
- Be able to swim.
We are looking for open-minded, flexible, mature Au Pairs who have a positive attitude and like caring for children.
How the application process will work
- After you’ve filled in all the forms and have all your documents ready, you need to email it to your representing office. The sign-up fee for registration is then due. We will then process your documents and send it to our French partner.
- Once your file is in France, you will be contacted by families who wish to match with you. You will have telephonic or Skype interviews and can decide which family you’d like to go to. It can take a few weeks, even months to match.
- Once you’ve matched with your host family the placement fee is due. We will then help you with your visa (which can take 2-4 months).
- After you received your visa, you can arrange your flights and set off to your Au Pair adventure in France!
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Also, please enquire about the program costs involved.
Camerodene hits France
Au Pair responsibilities
- Take the kids to school, play dates and pick them up afterwards.
- Prepare meals for the kids.
- Help kids with homework.
- Help prepare the kids for the day’s activities.
- Assist with general child-related chores, such as laundry, tidying the children’s bedrooms and play areas.
- Work for a maximum of 30 – 40 hours a week.
What is included in the Au Pair program?
- Visa assistance.
- Flight assistance by our recommended travel agent (optional).
- Contact details of fellow Au Pairs in your area.
- Furnished bedroom in host family’s home.
- Support from agency right through your year.
- A minimum wage of 100 Euro per week.
- Study allowance to do a French language course – you will need to pay in for this too. Prices depend
on the area you go to. Costs are +- 150 Euro per month. The studies are compulsory – this is a visa
- Transport card (pre-paid with money on it).
- Health & medical insurance throughout your stay.
- 2 weeks paid vacation during your year.
- Accommodation and meals with the family for the entire years stay.
- A very special Carla’s Au Pairs Pre-departure pack which includes useful & cool goodies such as a Pre-departure Manual (written by our experienced staff with the help of ex-Au Pairs), travel bag, travel document pouch, travel mirror, travel pillow, travel make-up bag, luggage tag & more!