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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....

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

PureQuintessence Sun 13-Jan-13 18:47:06

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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