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Moving to Paris with two small children and I don't have a clue(20 Posts)
So DH has been transferred at work to Paris which means myself and our two kids 2 years and 3 years old will be upping sticks and going with him. While I've been and really enjoyed the odd city break or two there I have no idea how it would actually be to live there particularly with children.
My level of French I would describe as intermediate and I'm well aware I'll need to brush up on it in order to get out and socialise. I'd like to know if anyone has enrolled their children in maternelle or international or state run schools and what they think about the standards, enrollment process, any language problems we might face. Also are there any particularly good or bad areas to live in for middle-income families, and how costly is the standard of living compared to UK?
You need to look up Message Paris which is for Anglophone parents and will tell you everything you need to know.
Oh and living costs are as expensive as you'd expect for a major capital city.
The good news is that Paris is really great for small kids. There are a lot of cultural activities, parks, theatres, ateliers. It is great.
The bad news is that it is quite an expensive city, as you would expect from a European capital city. Until we left in June we were paying 900 euros for a 32 sq m one bedroom apt in the 20th arrondisment, very near nation and walking distance to bastille. When we left the owner raised the rent to 1000 euros. This was including charges and with hot water and central heating included. Our electricity bill never exceeded 20 euros a month. Food is more expensive than the UK, as are clothes, going out and almost everything except for transport and vegetables at the market.
We were on a low income and so had help with housing costs and after school activites and school lunches were heavily subsidised. Hopefully you will either have a high enough income not to need help or will benefit from these.
We sent our DD to the local maternelle where she spent PS. She absolutely loved it and still asks every day to go back and see her friends 2 months later. It was such a positive experience and I really adore the school (Maternelle Planchat in case you are wondering) but it was in a mixed area with some deprivation so benefitted from slightly smaller class sizes as a result. Despite being a class of 25 DD was taken very good care of and the teacher always knew what she had been doing and how she was getting on. Not speaking any french at the beginning of the ywar didn't seem to hold her back.
Registration takes place a year in advance, so to register for this school year you would normally have had to register at the mairie before the end of 2013. I am not sure how much space is left after that but I imagine not much for PS because they offer any extra spaces to 2 year olds. You may get lucky though.
The area we chose isn't really that popular with expat families who tend to go for the 15th. Where are you planning to live?
Thanks for your replies. GreatAuntDinah Message does seem informative but I'm reluctant to pay that kind of service when I could probably get it more or less for free?
altered thanks so much for your reply, it really helps to have a point of view from someone who has actually done it all. I think we will probably be renting a little further out than the 20th as like you say rent prices are steep and they say agencies are getting very tough on asking new applicants for details in their dossier. I hope to be 20-30mins from the centre so we can live nearer the supermarkets and keep our car.
I am a but anxious about this looming issue of maternelle registration. My DD will be 4 this November which if it then takes a year to get her a place she may not get into maternelle until she's 5? I did read somewhere that they allow registration all year round when they realise the family has moved from abroad, do you know that to be true?
Where you live will depend on your income and where you'll be working. Areas popular with expats like the western suburbs tend to be pricey. I would recommend you join message though, the book they send you is a mine of useful info and it provodes you with an instant social life.
I would definitely join Message.. They were a life line for me.. The offer fantastic support and advice.
I would recommend joining message to be honest. We were on a very tight budget, but in hindsight it would have been a great investment as bureacracy is tough and there were a lot of things we missed out on or discovered towards the end of our stay because we didn't know.
The Western suburbs are indeed very expensive. Can you check if you would be eligible for housing benefit from the CAF? That helped us stay in paris and while the suburbs are nice, not all of them offer the same level of services. If you want somewhere close to paris, have you considered Antony or Croix de Berny area? They have the Parc de Sceaux which is lovely and it is on the RER B so very convient for commuting. Also not fwr from Orly airport if you travel a lot and Sceaux has a great lycee if you are planning to stay long term.
Forgot to say, I would avoid the eastern and northern suburbs.
I don't know about maternelle registration when moving from abroad I am afraid because we registered DD a year in advance but it is logical yhat there would be provisions for people moving to the area. I would be surprised if your DD had to wait a year for a place though she might not get into the closest school if oversubscribed.
The beginning of mandatory schooling is 6, the first year of primaire.
waving from Paris :D
It's a great place for kids, parks everywhere, and I'd say attitudes to children around are different too- there are always kids in cafes and restaurants (who don't throw food....the adults, however....) in the evenings, screaming kids in the bus get sympathetic people of all ages crowding round full of "la pauvre petite, elle es fatiguee c'est ca", yeah I'd really say it's more child friendly here.
It is expensive yes. See if your DH can get tickets restaurant, they're a lifesaver (you pay 3,50 for a voucher worth 8,80 and they're taken everywhere- restaurants and shops, even some bakeries). Shopping carefully is a must. There's so many Carrefour express/city etc around and they're expensive- quite hard to find big supermarkets with competitive offers. Dia is good. Picard quite expensive but good value for veg etc.
I'll be pretty free for a while in Sept, PM me if you're ever feeling a bit lonely and need an Anglophone coffee break!
Are you looking forward to it? Be excited, Paris is AWESOME!
MN Paris meet!
I would avoid the eastern and northern suburbs
That's a bit of a broad brush, there are parts that are very nice, somewhere like Enghien would be lovely if you work near the gare du nord.
You're right AuntDinah, that was unfair. I got lazy when typing with a baby on my lap. I was thinking mainly of the places on the RER A on the way to Chessy, Bagnolet, Pantin etc and to the north some of the suburbs on the RER C.
Heh, I live in one of them. Dead cheap but perhaps not ideal if you're new to France :-)
Have there ever been Paris MN meetups before?
Merci beaucoup ladies
Yes velourvoyageur I am without a doubt looking forward to it, I've always been up for adventure and I am definitely in love with Paris. Thanks for the offer I may well pm you if I'm there, I plan to arrive mid-late sept.
I will see if joining Message is worth a rethink then, maybe I'll see how it goes and join them once I'm there. My idea is to just jump in two feet first and use my level of French wherever I can, if I get stuck I'm sure Paris is not sure of English speakers.
There is also meetup.com with a bit for English speaking mums in Paris. Think it 5 euros a year.
They run a playgroup (under 3s) Tuesdays and Fridays, do buggy walks and other stuff (and anyone can suggest an 'event', say meeting in a café.
As an aside, I'd be up for an MN Paris meetup!
Let's organise it then! On a weekend though as I work full time.
Me too (well mat leave atm but back at work soon)