Maybe it's the food or the wine or the people, but France has a certain je ne sais quoi. There's an allure that, while hard to pinpoint, is definitely there. If the site of the French flag or a cafe that could be a snapshot of Paris have you sighing, then follow your heart and head to France. Sure it's the most visited country in the world, but you won't be just another tourist.
As an au pair in France, you will not just collect beautiful Instagram picture (though you'll definitely get those too), you'll also get to live, breathe and enjoy French culture every single day. By the end of your trip, France will be not just a stamp in your passport but a second home!
Choosing a Host Family
Length of Program
Programs tend to have a duration of between 6 months and 1 year.
For programs that are a combination of work and language study, au pairs are responsible for the children for between 15 and 20 hours a week and attend courses about 20 hours a week. Certain programs limit the au pair's responsibilities to teaching the children, with training sessions provided and specify the au pair's duties do not include housework. Other programs specify about 30 hours per week, during which the au pair will care for the family's children. In some cases light housework is part of the agreement so be sure to be very clear on your scope of duties as an au pair before your arrival. Typically au pairs have weekends off, though with some agencies, au pairs get 1.5 days off instead of 2 full days.
The stipend paid to au pairs varies, but it is most commonly between 280 and 500 euros per month.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Start Looking
Most families start their au pair search 1-4 months before the desired start date. Sites like Au Pair World allow au pairs to connect with families directly, through standard search features plus more advanced features like profiles and an internal messaging system. Au pairs can also opt to participate in structured programs run by agencies. Some agencies, for example Freepackers offer combination work-study programs, where the nannies take French classes in the morning and care for children in the afternoon.
Most agencies have a multi-tiered recruitment process. First you have to meet the general requirements such as age (some have even more specific age requirements than the general age for a visa application,like ages 18-26), language (most require you speak English or in some cases German fluently and some though not all require competency in French), previous childcare experience, education (most require a secondary degree diploma) and lack of criminal record. Au pairs then go through an application process, where facets include phone and/or video calls, requests for references, some form of background check, document submission (such as copies of a diploma, driver's license, passport, etc.), and in some cases in-person meetings. Then once thoroughly screened, applicants are matched up with host families.
If you are a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country (EU countries plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland), then you are able to work in France sans restrictions. If you are not an EEA national, then you must apply for work permit. To apply for work permit you must meet the following criteria: you must be 18-30 years old at the time you apply; you must have a valid passport, plus either a return ticket or proof that you possess sufficient funds to purchase one; you must not have participated in the work program before; you must show proof that you have sufficient funds available to cover all of the expenses for the duration of your trip. For full details, visit the official French Immigration and Integration Office Site.
Contributed by Anis Salvesen
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