Anyone else find france is crap when you've got a baby??!!

(122 Posts)
Nancy54 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:47:58

I've lived in france (lorraine) for the past 8 years and have enjoyed living here despite missing family from home.

I've got three month old bg twins who are absolutely wonderful! However, i am finding that there's really limited things to do with babies here and it's quite isolating. When my sister had her baby in the uk a couple of years ago, she went to loads of mum-baby groups, sing alongs etc and so got to meet lots of new mums who then became friends.

It seems that french people don't do this!! new mums seem to stay at home alone or with family for their 10 weeks of maternity leave, then they go back to work full time.

I have finally found a baby massage class which i'm going to this week so hopefully may be able to meet a couple of mums but this is the only activity i've found in the whole city!!

there's baby swimming too but you have to enroll in september to get a place....

Has anyone else has a similar experience in france? Am imagining there's lots more stuff in paris and the bigger cities.

I do think it's cultural too though, ime french people (or those in lorraine) don't go out of their way to meet new people, etc whereas in england we seem to use it as an opportunity to make new friends and share the difficult baby period with others going through the same! i know i'm genralising....

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 10:56:39

Hi. Are you surprised it's me answering this? France is shite with babies. Paris is better due to the expat communities but out here also in Lorraine as you know other than baby swimming there's nothing. And I agree, the people don't go out of their way to meet new people. Most children's activities start at 3. Then we will be spoilt for choice on Wednesdays.

On this side of Lorraine it's a tiny bit easier because of the cross border commuters, and Luxembourg does have things going on, but based round the expat community.

I'm not near Metz or Nancy so feel a little isolated sometimes. My new neighbours don't talk to me. Am hoping things will be easier in spring.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 10:58:42

I was expecting there to be some kind of mum and baby group but when I asked at the mairie the bloke looked at me as if I was bonkers.

Nancy54 Tue 08-Jan-13 11:08:49

haha not surprised at all!!

it is bloody crap, isn't it!! what do french mums do???? they must all just be sat at home counting down the days til they go back to work!

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 11:16:38

I don't know. The one next door seems to spend all her time ordering stuff off zalando. Everyone seemsto have grown up with each other.

Occasionally we socialise with DH's colleaguesand we do have a cople we are friendly with from our old village but when we moved here from Paris we were surprised how hard it is to meet people generally.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 11:19:14

I do find restaurants are very child friendly though, as long as we go when it's quiet.

We're trying to find a baby and dog friendly gite auberge to escape to in the northern vosges - we really need to get away more. I'll let you know if I find anything.

Weta Tue 08-Jan-13 14:05:16

Hello from Luxembourg!

You're right, it really is very different! We had DS1 in NZ and DS2 in the south of France and I was amazed how little there was to do with him, although having an older child of school age made life much easier.

Just a thought - in Montpellier and even in the small town we lived in for a while in Provence they did have a kind of play session you could go along to and play there with your child, and in fact I did make a close (not French!) friend through this. It might be worth asking at the PMI if there is anything like that in Lorraine?

This is the link for the one in Montpellier, just to give you an idea:
and in the small town:
(obviously no use to you, but just to prove that such things do exist in some places!)

Good luck with it all...

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 14:17:56

Hello Weta. I believe things are slightly better in Lux. Am on 20 mins from Lux city and hate driving there so have so far avoided the expat groups.

ng1412 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:38:57

Hi there, totally agree with you, we moved over with our 6 week old DD about 18 months ago and have found nothing, I am trying to get her in the local crèche but that in itself is a paperwork nightmare and we have not yet got her in despite waiting two months! I am pregnant again and desperate to get out and have a social life with other mums but there is absolutely nothing.

It is getting so bad that we are seriously thinking of going back to the UK and that wasn't in our long term plan at all before!

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 14:41:16

My local creche has a year waiting list hmm

i think it gets much easier from age 3. Don't give up yet ng

ng1412 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:45:18

I think we cocked up and bought in a rural small village thinking it would be nice and quiet. Thing is it is just too quiet! But it is a mystery where all the mums with toddlers go.

We are giving it another two years purely because we can't afford to go back yet and my DH's salary is so much better over here, not because we want to be here, oh dear!

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 14:48:49

Where are you?

ng1412 Tue 08-Jan-13 14:51:07

Alsace, Haut Rhin. Near Basel, but probably not near enough!

Spoiltexpatbrat Tue 08-Jan-13 14:55:29

Having moved from the UAE to France last may, I'm still missing my old life and moan daily to my dh how hard it is here blush I have two dc's. One approaching one and the other soon to be three. There is nothing to do, especially in this cold weather. Not speaking a word of French isolates us further. sad

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 15:00:21

ng another one out here in the east smile

expatbrat learning French will help. They love our accents when we speak French. I think there is a tendancy, apart from the mountain areas which come to life, for France to hibernate in winter.

Once the children get to maternelle age there are much more activities for them.

ng1412 Tue 08-Jan-13 15:03:20

I keep watching Escape to the Country and getting really homesick.

Spoilt I don't speak the lingo either, not through want of trying though but we can't find anyone willing to teach us at home which we need.....

And yes winter in very depressing, we get bad fog so sometimes you can't see anything!

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 15:18:21

Ha I'm watching that now smile

I think anglo-info have an alsace site.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 08-Jan-13 15:21:11

I'm down south, still nothing to do. My son isn't a baby, he has special needs though so doesn't take part in the relentless sporting activities on Wednesdays. So basically he does nothing. There is so much choice and variation in the UK.

Things are getting better though. There is a soft play and baby gym opening in our small town.

ng1412 Tue 08-Jan-13 15:22:19

Me too Petite. They make it look so lovely, makes me wonder why we left!

Anglo Info has a Strasbourg site which is not really near us unfortunately. We don't have any active local websites apart from those in Basel sad

bunnyfrance Tue 08-Jan-13 15:23:03

Hi all,
I'm in Alsace, near Strasbourg, with two DCs age 1 and 3. We also bought in a small village thinking it would be nice and calm. It's deathly. I take the DCs out for walks in the village (there's nothing else to do) and want to scream "what have you people done with the children? Where are they??!" There is really nothing to do here and it drives me bonkers. It's not as though I don't speak French...I've been here for 16 years...

VariousBartimaeus Tue 08-Jan-13 15:25:30

I'm in Paris and I was looking forward to meeting other mums and making friends...but as you say, it's rubbish!

At my ante-natal classes no-one spoke to each other hmm, and when I started conversations it just didn't take.

I asked at my local PMI for baby groups etc. but they didn't know of any, except the drop-in centre they held once a week but that was more if you had concerns rather than wanting to socialise!

Fortunately there is Message which is an English-speaking community in Paris and a few other groups, but mainly run by foreigners.

i think there's baby yoga and baby massage but I work FT so didn't bother trying too hard to find anything. There is also a baby-café for BF advice (run by the LL) but I didn't ever get round to going.

spoilt where are you?

VariousBartimaeus Tue 08-Jan-13 15:29:27

Also, Message is mainly Paris based but there are members not in Paris and it's nice to have a forum with other women in exactly the same situation as you (English-speakers living in France) - so you could at least chat on the net?

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 15:39:38

All that said I wouldn't move back to the UK. I love it here.

ng1412 Tue 08-Jan-13 15:46:34

I am just not feeling the love here. I love the space and peace but I think we came out at the wrong time, maybe we should have come here when our DD was a little older. At this rate she won't have any benefit to us living here as she will be 4 when we go home. The main reason for coming was to give our DD a better start in life!

ClairesTravellingCircus Tue 08-Jan-13 15:53:17

Not in France, but having exactly the same problem in Italy. I think its a similar set up as most mums go back to work ft.
Soo miss the uk at the moment!

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 15:59:00

Maybe by then you'll love it and stay so she'll reap the benefits of the Wednesday and weekend activities.

dikkertjedap Tue 08-Jan-13 16:19:10

ng Hi, I am not in France, but I would strongly recommend 'Rosetta Stone' if you are keen to learn French (or any other language for that matter). It is really excellent.

Nancy54 Tue 08-Jan-13 17:37:35

Haha well thank god it's not just me then!! What a shame we don't all live in the same town then we could make our own group!

I do speak the language fluently and we've got lots of friends that we see for aperos etc (well not since the twins were born!) but I would just love to have some mum friends but no one is to be seen!!

This will make you laugh: a couple of weeks before giving birth I went to a 'jumeaux et plus' information meeting for parents to be. I was hoping to meet some other twin mums there. So basically they just talked at us for about two hours and then at the end I got up in front of everyone and said 'would anyone like to swap emails or phone numbers so that we could meet up once our twins are born'? Guess how many people wanted to? Yes, you've guessed it, none! Just a big fat silence. La honte!

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 17:42:17

Oh no that is awful Nancy

I found the silence in the ob gyn waiting room deafening. A whole group of pregnant women sat together (he does pregnancy appointments in the morning and others in the afternoon and evening) and there was just silence and no eye contact. After appointment number three I stopped saying bonjour.

That was in Luxembourg

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 18:09:30

In Paris there is a group called Message that is quite big and does all the stuff that Anglo-Saxon mothers expect.

It's difficult now because it's winter, but even French people can get friendly in your local park or swimming pool when you both have babies!

Nancy54 Tue 08-Jan-13 19:24:16

Yeah shame I don't live in Paris!

Yeah I know french people can be friendly, but I'm not sure they're bothered about making new friends when they have a baby like we tend to do in the uk.

Claire - I didn't know you lived in Italy! Whereabouts?

ClairesTravellingCircus Tue 08-Jan-13 21:25:35

Hi Nancy I'm in Trieste, right on the border with Slovenia.

(whispers: In fact I am Italian, but lived in the UK for 10 years and had my first two dcs there, I often feel like an alien here confused)

Weta Tue 08-Jan-13 21:37:06

Nancy that sounds horrible, how embarrassing! I did find in France that people look at you a bit strangely if you try to strike up conversation (I speak the language very fluently) - in fact I have a theory that they kind of need to see you in the background some number of times (10 or 20 I reckokn!) before they will consider it normal to actually speak to you. That said, I did eventually make some very good French friends through my son's friends at maternelle.

PetiteRaleuse I can imagine the drive to Lux is pretty unpleasant although probably not too bad if you were going to mum and baby type groups at odd times of day rather than having to go in the rush hour? I know where you're coming from about the expat scene, although I think expat friends are still a step up from no friends at all smile

In my first stint in France (in Strasbourg in my 20s) I was desperate to meet French people and pretty much shunned expats, but the second time round in Montpellier I wasn't so fussed and just figured that friends were friends, regardless of where they came from...

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 22:43:45

Weta I didn't mean it to soumd like I am actively avoiding expat groups except the people i have pissed off professionally and as you know Luxembourg is small it's more that I avoid driving to the city, thereby not getting involved with the expat community iyswim.

Due to DD1 childcare routine and still getting my head round having a newborn trips right into town are also tough to organise.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 22:46:58

Nancy I told my French DH of your experience this evening. He guessed that one person in the group would have answered on the logic that someone would probably be new to the area. He wasn't surprised by none though.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Jan-13 22:49:29

I lived in Paris for ten years and although there is the sense of isolation I always feel in cities there truly is something for everyone, and meeting people is easy if you want to. Out in the sticks it's harder.

Weta Wed 09-Jan-13 06:50:49

That all sounds very understandable PetiteRaleuse, everything is much harder with a newborn and an older child... I guess on the upside your older one will be in school before too long, and then there are many more things to be involved in. As you say, the more rural you are the harder it is - we had 6 months living next to my in-laws in a hamlet in Provence and I was soooooo happy to move to a city after that!

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 07:07:54

I can imagine !

VariousBartimaeus Wed 09-Jan-13 08:10:46

From my experience of living in France (8 years now shock) the French can be friendly but it's hard to make friends IYSWIM.

At first I avoided the expat scene just because I'm not an expat and I intend on staying here forever. Once I had DS though I did join Message (not an expat community really - there are lots of "lifers") to meet people (am not doing very well on that front to be honest though as I work FT and DS doesn't sleep through yet so I'm totally knackered and never have enough time for everything).

I've made French friends through work but it took months, if not years, to move from being friendly/having lunch/going for a drink after work to actually meeting up with them at the weekend with or without partners.

And as I'm in Paris, lots of people I work with are Parisiens so their entire family/friend structure is here and they just don't have time for more friends. Plus living in a city you can easily live nearly an hour away from your friends so it's not simple meeting up.

I have a friend who I used to work with (she left the company). We now see each other twice a year-ish (though we email more often) because she works FT, has two young children, 3 sisters, her mum, her dad, her friends and all her DH's family/friends who live in Paris so finding a free weekend to meet up is not easy! The most we saw each other was when our maternity leave coincided, although as we live a good 50 minutes apart on public transport it was not straightforward.

Have you tried Meetup to see if there's any English-speaking mums in your area? You could always set up a group and see if anyone else joins...

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 08:13:54

I've made French friends through work but it took months, if not years, to move from being friendly/having lunch/going for a drink after work to actually meeting up with them at the weekend with or without partners.

I agree that it takes a very long time with many French people to work through the stages of intimacy such that you can ring on their doorbell on a Saturday and pop in for a coffee when you are in the neighbourhood/call them at 4pm for a picnic in the park at 6pm/suggest a last-minute cinema on a Sunday night.

Nancy54 Wed 09-Jan-13 08:24:10

YeAh weta I think you're totally right about the ten or twenty times thing, I have now after 8 years got some good friends here but not all have children and if they do they work full time so I can't see them during the week. Hence the need to make some new mum friends but in afraid it's not going to happen. Having babies here is making me want to move home. I'm having to rely on my mil for help a couple of days a week, othrwise ill go mad as the twins arent the easiest and while she means well she is rather annoying!
Raleuse - my dp also wasn't surprised, he just said "we'll, that's the french for you!" (And he's french!)

Claire - I've been to Trieste a couple of times! I did my Erasmus year in Ferrara! In fact that's where I met my dp!

Having small children in a country that is not your own can always be difficult.
I had my 2 in the Uk (I am Italian), and mother and baby groups bored the hell out of me.
We also lived in a small town, so there wasn't much to do/ see either. Things improved drastically when a friend had her baby too and we started spending time together, it was lovely.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 08:29:47

Being a SAHM here is also more rare. Surprisingly for a country where there is still so much sexism women go back to work quite quickly.

Nancy54 Wed 09-Jan-13 08:49:36

Yeah most don't even seem to consider staying off longer than the three months conge mat.
I think over here when you have a baby it's more about making the baby fit in with your life rather than changing your life for the baby.

VariousBartimaeus Wed 09-Jan-13 08:57:45

I went back to work when DS was 6 months and it's true, everyone looked at me as though I'd said I'd be off 10 years hmm

My parents look after DS for me and they say the parks are full of nannies, rarely any mums.

Having said that, my mum recently met a poor woman who didn't leave her flat for the first 3 months because her Dr told her not to! shock I got the occasional remark when out and about with newborn DS but I just assumed it was weird old ladies making comments as opposed to medical advice confused

Nancy54 Wed 09-Jan-13 09:11:24

Yes people are always surprised that I'm out and about with the twins. Before I gave birth my mil told me not to take them out of the house for the first 6 months!!!

Nancy54 Wed 09-Jan-13 09:11:45

(But she is a bit odd)

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 10:28:24

There's an absolute fear of babies catching something among the older generation. I know that the fact I have pets that I allow near the children is frowned upon.

Also the fact I don't cover everything in eau de javel.

VariousBartimaeus Wed 09-Jan-13 11:14:14

And yet they send their babies to creches where they get every illness going!

I was told that DS would get really ill at primary school as he isn't in a creche so hasn't built up immunity hmm probably true but am sticking my head in the sand

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 11:50:37

When I sent DD1 to creche part time everyone said it was good as she would get everything now instead of later on at school. She started in September and they were right. She has just spent a week in hospital with double pneumonia and bronchiolitis, and passed the bronchiolitis on to her new born sister. Got to love creche grin

Thanks, I'd rather she caught everything when she's a bit older.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 11:54:42

Bronchiolitis is almost the exclusive preserve of children who go to crèche (80% of cases). Those who get it and who are not at crèche are mostly their siblings.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 12:01:43

It's also pretty much for under two year olds. So if I hadn't put her in creche part time She probably wouldn't have got it ever. Good old creche.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 12:02:56

And Nancy there is a regional outbreak at the moment so it might be for the best that you'e not mixing with other babies. The baby kiné they make them have is scary to watch.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 13:52:28

The French keep very quiet about the health & hygiene failings of crèche, if you ask me! It's a bit like the school canteen - all the teachers know that children do better at school if they go home at lunch time and relax, but they aren't allowed to publicise that fact. Nothing must be allowed to divert women from their duty to pay tax professional fulfillment.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 09-Jan-13 15:00:03

I don't see it as a failing of creche - just a situational hazard smile

Hope to be surviving on freelance by the time school comes around. I would have loved to have been able to go home for lunch every day as a child.

Thing is most women aren't professionally fulfilled here, even in Paris. After 14 years here I am still regularly staggered at the everyday sexism. I think it is getting better, but it's slooooow.

Nancy54 Wed 09-Jan-13 15:41:28

raleuse i'll keep it in mind but it's not gonna stop me going to my baby massage class tgomorrow - it's the only thing o've found to do with the babies in the whole of Nancy and it's only once a month! grin
i hope your little ones are all better now?

various what is meet up?

re the creche, mine are on a waiting list for september but i have also got them down for a 'creche familiaile' which is just a n association of assistant maternelles at home who meet up occasionally. you're making me think that might be the better option!

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 15:56:45

It's a negative externality and there is room for improvement, only those improvements would cost money.

Spoiltexpatbrat Wed 09-Jan-13 18:39:36

I'm just outside if paris in st germain en laye, although its beautiful its still very tough. I'm the youngest expat and the youngest parent at the international school where I take dd for 3 days a week. The other mothers exclude me owing to the fact I wear makeup shock or some such other lame excuse told to me by the only nice mother in the entire school hmm
Part of the problem is my fault. We are only here a year before relocating to korea. I thought I could get through it be focusing on the children. However a year is too long without friends sad

mummyonvalium Wed 09-Jan-13 18:47:18

I feel terrible. I was really judgemental of SIL in Paris when she had her DS, about the fact she never took him anywhere. Now I know why.

BriocheDoree Wed 09-Jan-13 18:57:07

Spoiltexpatbrat I am very close to you and will happily meet you in Saint G for coffee some time if you like. I'm there fairly often. I only work part-time.

Spoiltexpatbrat Wed 09-Jan-13 20:21:15

Thanks smile I shall pm you tomorrow. Dd attends nursery mon, we and fri so I can come with ds on any of these days. If I time it right he might even sleep so we can drink in peace wink

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 20:45:39

"I feel terrible. I was really judgemental of SIL in Paris when she had her DS, about the fact she never took him anywhere. Now I know why."


I spent a lot of time in England when DD was a baby. The mother-and-baby group near my parents was just so much nicer than horrible competitive Message. In fact, I gave up on Message fairly quickly! Luckily DD had her two half-brothers to entertain her but for mothers of one child it must be pretty dire.

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 08:36:05

Meetup is a worldwide website where people create communities and anyone can join. So, for example, if you like hillwalking you can create a group and meetup with people to go hillwalking.

Have looked for Nancy and Metz though and there isn't anthing unfortunately.

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 09:15:24

Oh that's a shame! Thanks for the suggestion anyway!

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 09:32:47

Try googling English speaking mums in france - there serms to be a few options

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 09:38:48

I'll give it a go, but the prob is that Lorraine isn't v popular with expats!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 09:44:13

Expats don't know what they're missing out on. Fabulous climate, friendly people and all the pork you can eat grin

I actially do love Lorraine. It's beautiful once you get past the areas of abandoned factories.

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 09:49:12

Haha yeah raleuse I actually like living here too! Well I suppose I would say that liked it until I had babies, but I suppose it will get better once they're a bit older. As I said in op, I just think France is shite when you've got a baby, but there are of course lots of great things otherwise I wouldn't have stayed here for 8 yrs.

So great to have a moan though!

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 10:56:54

Moaning is always good!

BriocheDoree Thu 10-Jan-13 11:03:15

Nancy54 are you actually IN Nancy? According to the maison verte list there are several "lieu d'accueil enfants/parents" in Nancy, and one in Metz. (the Maison Verte are an asso and you can take your baby along to play: there are using auxiliaire de puer there who you can ask if you have any questions); They might be friendly, they might not, but might at least give you something to do: look for "lieux d'accueil parents/enfants"

There might also be a ludothèque? I found that was a good place to go when the kiddies were tiny.

Bonsoir, am intrigued by "competitive" message? Don't think I ever went to Message baby groups (had my second here but my first was already at school so was pretty easy to make friends). I mainly use it as a useful resource for finding my way round French admin (DH isn't French either so most of the admin falls to me as I only work part-time) and I got two of my last 4 work contracts through message contacts. However, there is certainly a kind of "earth-mother" lentil-weaving type in message, I suppose!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 11:04:08

Very therapeutic !

I saw there are some meet up groups in Luxembourg so once I have vetted the lists to be sure there's no-one scary on there I might pluck up the courage to go smile

Once the weather improves nancy we could meet up too. Somewhere mid way, though I would like to visit Nancy one weekend as have never been. Might plan myself a city break and we could meet for coffee.

Bonsoir Thu 10-Jan-13 11:33:38

BriocheDorée - I thought Message baby groups were frightful. There were hierarchies going on - long-term residents with native-speaker level of French married to a Frenchman were fantastically patronising to new arrivals and deeply wary of anyone who might "outdo" them in the Frenchness stakes), people were excluded because their faces didn't fit, mothers sending their non-Anglophone nannies along to mother-and-baby group, snobbiness about whether parents were intending to use local state or bilingual schools... Grrrrrr. The very opposite of supportive and inclusive - it was all about finding yourself in the pecking order of Anglophone society in Paris.

frozentree Thu 10-Jan-13 12:02:17

I found Message invaluable when I first arrived in France, and everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. This was out in the wilds of Yvelines tho', so maybe Paris/St Germain is different?

Bonsoir Thu 10-Jan-13 12:05:39

I'm entirely able to believe that different Message local groups have different personalities!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 12:49:13

Frizen I used to live in Yvelines and found the expat community much more down to earth than certain expat sectors in Paris.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 12:50:42

I was in Versailles but socialised with people in Marly le Roi. There was a nice community there.

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 18:01:43

How was baby massage?

Have you tried asking at your Mairie? Or local PMI?

Our local library does storytelling - or at least, I think I found that once but when I tried looking again (on the internet) I couldn't find it - just lots of random opening hours of local libraries (they seem to open 2 hours a day max, 3 days a week confused)

I think you do have to find an activity and keep going so mums will get used to you before asking if they want to meet outside the class. Having said that, I was on holiday last summer and met a lovely lady whose son was 3 months younger than mine and we had a great natter whenever our paths crossed - especially as I was still BF 9 month old DS and she was the only mum she knew still BF at 6 months - think she was quite relieved to find someone else!

As DS has gotten older, I find people do chat at playgrounds and stuff, but it's just chit-chat and I think it'd be hard to make friends from that.

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 18:05:36

Have been googling a bit - there seem to be English-speaking mums creating groups in various parts of France - Lyon, Dordogne,... (haven't yet found for Nancy though sad). I know you don't mind if it's English or French but I think you've more chance culturally to find an English-speaking one!

Maybe try and find out if there's expat groups in Nancy? And see if you can get in touch with mums that way?

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 18:39:19

Brioche - thanks for finding that! Do kind of you to look for me! I think I'll give them a ring tomorrow, although it says it is 'confidential and anon' so I wonder if its not for people with problems?!?

Raleuse - that would be lovely to meet up sometime!

Various - thanks for looking for me! I have tried the Mairie, they do have story telling and stuff but it's for older kids. Re the expat groups, there's not enough expats in nancy I don't think! Or maybe there are and we need a group to bring us together - I should start one!

So baby massage was good, there were only two other people there (quelle surprise!),

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 18:43:46

Oops posted too soon.
So it was me, my belle mere (yup has to take her along as you're not allowed two babies alone), a v odd woman with a zombie like baby and a nice woman with a 7 month old. So am thinking the nice woman could be potential friend, but didn't want to appear weird (and was scared of rejection after the twins club fiasco) so didn't ask her if she wanted to meet up or anything. She'll be there next time though so you never know. How desperate am I! Lol

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 18:50:26

I have a feeling most expats in Nancy will in some way be linked to the university. That is the case in Metz.

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 18:56:31

Yes actually I work at the fac des sciences as an English teacher so have some English colleagues who I see socially but none have small children

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 20:23:26

Thought you might work at the fac (though maybe you told me so before at some point). I do understand where you're coming from. That said the people we do socialise with that have children (that I don't consider mummy friends as we knew them before iyswim) have masses of advice about child rearing that those of us coming from a non-French background might find tricky.

So I tend to avoid the subject of children smile as when we do talk about it they end up looking at me like this hmm and make rod for back type comments grin

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 20:28:01

yeah i know what you mean. i do wonder about what it's gonna be like bringing my kids up here because i think i'll hava a very different parenting style to many of our friends.

everyone is already horrified that mine aren't sleeping through yet and i y just have been advised by many just to let them cry. they are only three months!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 20:37:23

The easiest thing to do is just say they are sleeping through, and you do let them cry it out grin

I think once they are past babyhood it gets easier. French children get moulded into the education and activity system and we will just end up fitting into that. It's while we are on our own doing things our own way that we get the flak for not doing things right.

Remember also that the vast majority of people haven't raised twins, so you can just raise an eyebrow, shrug, and ask how many sets of twins they have brought up. If you are raising them bilingually they might be a little slower speaking (but don't worry they will understand everything as normal) and you will get comments that they should go to the orthophoniste. I'm already getting that for DD1 from well meaning self appointed experts. I just ask them what their experience is in raising bilingual children...

Then a bit later if one of them shows the slightest behavioural issue (and I lean slight) you will have people lining up to give you the name of a psy...

I think we'll get through it with a whole load of smiling and nodding. I am lucky enough to have found a really good paediatrician in Luxembourg who shares my opinion on a lot of French advice. Makes life much easier.

VariousBartimaeus Fri 11-Jan-13 09:09:34

My mum found it funny last night because on the news there was an American report saying you should let babies cry it out and the French news station actually managed to find a French paed who said letting the baby cry is very damaging grin She was most impressed they'd managed to find an expert who thinks this wink

DS still doesn't sleep through consistently (15 months now). I mentionned it at work and another mum said her DS didn't sleep through til 3years (but she's not French) and then a couple of French mums chipped in that their babies didn't sleep through for ages either! The difference is their "babies" are now nearly teens so they can admit it now!

Weta Fri 11-Jan-13 10:15:22

Nancy don't worry too much about the 'confidential and anon' thing, it was the same at the place I went to in Montpellier and the other one in Provence as well. I think it's just some weird French obsession with privacy and worrying that people may be recording your details.

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 07:40:33

yeah raleuse, you're totally right i just need to nod and smile. i suppose you leant that with your first!!
i think the baby period is more difficult but tbh i'm not sure i want them to 'fit in' to the french system. of course they'll have to if we stay here but i'm starting to fantasise about moving back to the uk. i used to work in collège and i must say i do not like the french way of teaching. However, both me and dp have good jobs here, we've bought a house etc so i think i may just have to accept it!!! (anyway, that's a whole other thread for a couple of years time grin

oh god various my grandma (who is english) has been quoting that study to my sister and I! she is 93 though so we'll forgive her.

ok weta; thanks for the advice, i'm gonna try it this week! i'll let you know if it's full of a load of oddballs or not! or just completely empty.....wink

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 09:19:52

I'd prefer mine to go through the British system but without living in the UK. There is a British school in Luxembourg but it's expensive and I have heard some bad things about it. I'll leave them in the French system at least thru primary. Most French people turn out OK after all. Another thing we have considered is home schooling, but that is very frowned upon over here. I do intend on dropping the idea into conversation with the ILs for my own personal amusement though from time to time.

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 15:05:38

haha yes i too enjoy scaring the ils with my 'babacool' ideas. they are horrified that the babies don't sleep in their own room yet.

my sister works in an english high school and from what she tells me it"s v far from perfect too. But the grass is always greener i suppose....

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 15:34:22

It's the lack of creativity and discouragement from questioning what they are told which bothers me in the French education system. OTOH the standard at Bac os high and they study a wide range of subjects to 18.

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 18:13:39

Yes I totally agree. That's what I don't like about it either. I find it utterly depressing. Plus the obsession with marks and rank in the class.

They don't teach how to learn or how to enjoy learning.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 18:32:24

And the perpetual shame that is instilled with them about retaking a year.

And the fact that kids are expected to have masses of homework that parents seem to have to help with...


Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 19:05:54

And the fact that they constantly have learnt things off by heart

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 19:07:48

Have to learn I meant!

BriocheDoree Sat 12-Jan-13 19:23:40

Actually I was surprised how much homework my nieces in the UK get when talking to my SIL the other day. They are in year 1. DD probably has more but then she is two years ahead of them and gets extra because she's in a bilingual section. I don't know if we will stay here when the kids are at collège. We might have to go back anyway for work and family reasons but my heart does not leap at the idea of collège!

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 19:31:35

There is something to be said for occasionally learning things by heart - brain training - but they do seem to do it an awful lot. When I was an au pair the 8yo hadto learn a looooooong poem every week. Which I thought was excessive. I think I only ever learned one poem off by heart in my entire education, and that was for a public recital (I was 7 and still remember it now).

BriocheDoree Sat 12-Jan-13 19:44:06

I don't know...DD is always proud of herself when she has memorised something, but she is a child that learns quite easily. Have to see how DS gets on when he goes to CP next year. Might not be so easy for him. Also for my kids (who come from a purely anglophone family) learning by heart has been good for their French. Both are fully bilingual now but was a while coming.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 19:52:56

That's a good point Brioche. I did pretty well in the UK system but can't help but wonder how I would have done in the French system. I suppose the learning by rote does help them prepare for that specific education system. In the UK it wouldn't have helped except for maybe Latin verbs, if you studied Latin.

But in a country where there is so much focus on maths and science perhaps applying logic to grammar and rote learning helps.

Or maybe I am overthinking it

Nancy54 Sun 13-Jan-13 18:00:21

Yes some learning by heart is great for brain training but here it is totally excessive. Most of the time the kids are learning things that they don't understand off by heart.

I think if you're able and academic the french system suits you well, if you're less so or struggle, the french system makes you feel shit about yourself.

tb Sun 13-Jan-13 18:39:47

I think it's pretty much the case all over France, especially in the rural areas.

About 18 months after we moved in to our house, the house opposite sold, and the neighbour told me that if you smile people think you are lying - so much for my open smiley 'Bonjours'.

We moved to France when dd was 9, just over 6 years ago. She jumped a year due to her birthday going from year 4 in the UK to CM1 overnight, and went up to college without any problem 18 months later. However, I will add that she knew the difference between the sounds of French and English when she was 2 or 3, due to holidays, weekend hops, and French dvd's such as L'Aile ou la cuisse etc.

I spent over £3000 when we still had money left going to a language school, and had to leave early when I had a nasty fall on unlit stairs (next time, lie on floor and ring pompiers, as then you have a third party attestation about your injuries), and ended up with 2 very badly sprained ankles which cause problems.

Register with pole emploi to get free French lessons with the Greta/Portail du Limousin/Champagne-Ardennes/Bretagne etc it's free, and they'll never find you a job anyway.

Dd's now at lycée about 120km away, and we were talking about moving, but suddenly have found ourselves much more accepted all of a sudden.

They've even accepted Christmas cake - pudding is going a bit far, though, and the parents of the girl she sat next to at school on her first day have started to tutoyer me.

The biggest help I got with my French was a 3-week stay in an obesity centre - I've learned some very rude expressions, and some very questionable jokes, and made 3 or 4 good friends, who I'll keep in touch with, I hope.

Centre was crap though, they reduced my medication without consulting/informing my specialist so then they bollocked me for not losing weight during my 3 week stay.

And finally, I'm now just as rude to my gp as he is to me - his language is about the level of the 'Full Monty'. I've stopped swearing at him in English as his wife spent 18 months in the UK, so don't know how much he speaks. I just use playground insults in Welsh, and there's not a cat in hell's chance of him understanding that. Have also given him recipes for curry, as he likes Indian food, although his mime of what a Brick Lane curry did to his bottom takes some forgetting grin

tb Sun 13-Jan-13 18:43:17

The only really big mistake was about 4 years ago, when they revived the Autumn fair, together with an apple tart competition.

The wife of the owner of the village shop wasn't there for the judging but she won first prize which was a hamper of goodies from her shop.

I got second prize blush thanks to a brilliant recipe and an Aga and don't think a couple of people have got over that yet grin

Do you think this difference is because French women work, and so many British women dont, or wont return to work after they have had a baby?

It is the same in Norway, there are some baby groups, but new mums dont form any new friendships with other new mums, as they go back to work and life returns to normal and they spend time with other friends and their families.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 14-Jan-13 07:36:47

PureQ yes I think it has a lot to do with women going straight back to work.. That said in this area there are quite a lot of SAHMs because childcare is very costly, more so than in other area of France if you are a cross border worker (1,200+ euros per month per child) but there still aren't any groups or socialising.

VariousBartimaeus Mon 14-Jan-13 13:28:49

I've noticed in Paris that a lot of the French baby activities are at the weekend, eg. swim classes, gymboree,...(trying to think of others but haven't found any!)

For me that really shows that it's catering for working parents. In fact one of my friends was on extended maternity leave (she went back after 9 months wink) and complained that she couldn't find anything to do during the week, it was all at the weekend but that's when she sees family/friends etc.

ng1412 Tue 15-Jan-13 07:36:04

Well I am so bored of being at home. DH went back to work for first time after Christmas break yesterday and I am done with being on my own all the time already!

Nothing going on here, far to cold to venture out and slippy under foot, I am 5 and a half months pregnant so feel like a beached whale oh and DD is a very lively toddler...


fraktion Tue 15-Jan-13 22:15:08

I found that the best way to meet friends is through church not that only works if you're religious. Work is very formal, there are no baby groups and the pole emploi refused to send me for French lessons so I could make friends not learn French I had more friends after 3 months in Normandy than 3 years outre-mer.

France is not particularly baby friendly in general unless you just treat them like an extra handbag.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 09:29:01

They aren't overly baby friendly but they don't mind you bringing them with you everywhere you go (restaurants etc)

Hmm. Church. DH wants my two baptised so I guess we will have to start going at some point soon.

Nancy54 Wed 16-Jan-13 09:48:05

Well they tend to take their children everywhere with them, then ignore them.
In other news, I contacted the 'bibliotheque americaine' in nancy and asked them if they'd be interested in starting a 'singalong in English" group for babies (organized by me who unfortunately can't sing but hey ho) and they are pretty keen!

PetiteRaleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 10:17:55

Ooh that's a good idea Nancy well done. I was thinking, when the kids are a little older, offering Wednesday activities in my village in English. If they can fit me in between their judo, tennis, drawing and music lessons grin

Weta Wed 16-Jan-13 10:24:17

Nancy brilliant idea, well done! I didn't realise there was a 'bibliothèque américaine' in Nancy... In Montpellier I used to go to an English-speaking baby/toddler group which had been started by someone (now a friend) who was in a similar position to you, I should have thought to mention it. There was some ghastly British association which she linked it up to, but it was a good way of advertising it.

PetiteRaleuse I'm sure your English activities will be highly sought-after and an essential addition to the judo, tennis, drawing and music smile

Nancy54 Wed 16-Jan-13 10:48:18

Well I decided it was time to stop moaning about the lack of activities and actually do sth about it.

Well I'll prob keep moaning as well!

Loads of snow here today, dp has taken the car and can't come home for lunch (he usually does which is lovely), babies being grizzly and I've got the ils (who I find tres annoying) coming round at 16h30. Joy of joys looking forward to bedtime!

PetiteRaleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 10:53:53

Lots of snow here today too. Luxembourg and the surrounding areas weregridlocked last night DH spent almost 2 hours coming back via country lanes and even they were busy. It's not like they didn't know this was coming. Apparently there'll be loads more this weekend.

Good luck with the ILs. Mine live right the other side of France. About ten hours drive. It's perfect.

Nancy54 Wed 16-Jan-13 11:21:00

Oh lucky you! Mine live about 20 min drive awAy unfortunately.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 11:25:35

Oh dear. I wouldn't be able to cope with that. Best of luck.

Nancy54 Wed 16-Jan-13 11:28:07

Yes it is pretty horrendous. It was ok before having children. Think it is contributing to me wanting to move back to uk!

PetiteRaleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 12:18:23

I understand. Is there any way you could move to another part of France, like Pau?

tb Wed 16-Jan-13 15:58:32

I've met some quite pleasant people at church - but I'm CofE, and the nearest church is 2 hours drive and 12 litres of diesel each way into the Dordogne.

As our income is below the bar to pay tax, it's rather a luxury - especially with €5 to put into the plate, too. Always feel guilty that I can't afford any more.

Nancy54 Thu 17-Jan-13 19:43:16

Well pau would be pretty good or maybe a Dom Tom would be better?

PetiteRaleuse Thu 17-Jan-13 20:10:58

I have known quite a few former teachers who have managed to get themselves muté to New Caledonia. That's pretty remote.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 17-Jan-13 20:11:29

Mght be cheaper to get flights to a dom tom than to Pau though grin

julz09 Thu 17-Jan-13 20:29:10

Hmm im having exactly the same problem but im in rural Scotland hmm makes note to listen out for french accents tommorow grin

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