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What are the French manners and etiquetes

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Navigating childcare in France can be a challenge, particularly in larger cities. This guide helps you find the right childcare center for your child and understand the French childcare system.

France boasts an impressive number of preschools and daycares, yet finding available spaces, especially in Paris, can take time and effort. Where can you find a daycare center, and how can you secure a spot for your child in the French childcare system? Here's what you need to know.

Public and Private Nurseries (Creches)

Parents can choose public or private nurseries, known as ' creches ' from three months old, aligning with the end of typical maternity leave. Funded by local and regional governments plus parental fees, these nurseries typically operate 11 hours daily, closing only for a month in summer.

Staff in both public and private nurseries are highly trained and hold childcare diplomas. For local options, contact the 'mairie' (town hall) for 'creches' or 'haltes garderies' information.

Availability varies; smaller towns may have fewer options, while big cities like Paris face high demand. It's wise to join a waitlist immediately, often right after pregnancy confirmation.

Alternative Daycare Options

  • Assistants Maternelles: Certified nannies providing care at their location or your home, catering to infants and older children after school. Limited to five children each, these nannies are state-certified and regularly inspected. Your local 'mairie' can provide a list of qualified nannies.

  • Crèches Parentales: Parent-run nurseries requiring a license from the 'mairie'. Parents share costs and responsibilities, including administration, food, and equipment supply.

The term 'nourrice' commonly refers to nannies, but it's distinct from state-certified 'assistante maternelle.'

Due to competitive childcare, many parents in large cities like Paris opt for private nannies. Agencies specialize in finding multilingual caregivers, or you can hire privately, ensuring legal residency and payment of social security charges for work exceeding five hours weekly.

Government Support for Private Nannies

The 'chèque emploi service' simplifies hiring and tax deduction processes for social security charges. Registration is possible through banks, post offices, or local Treasury Departments. Once registered, notify your local URSFF office or use online services to declare your status as an employer.

Nurseries in France (Ecole Maternelle)

Children as young as two can attend public nursery schools ('école maternelle'), provided they're toilet trained. Schooling before age six is optional and not guaranteed by the government, so early registration is recommended.

School days are divided into morning and afternoon sessions, each lasting three hours, with a two-hour lunch break. Parents can choose to pick up their children for lunch. Schools typically offer lunch and pre/post-school childcare services ('service de puériculture') at reasonable costs.

'Ecole maternelle' is more than a daycare; it follows a state-regulated curriculum, preparing children for primary school at age six.

Understanding these aspects of French childcare can help you navigate the system effectively and ensure the best possible start for your child in France.



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