Don’t believe all that you hear about French people's resistance to English. The language police at the Académie Française might be against the invasion of anything Anglo but the same cannot be said for French parents.
More and more of them appear to be waking up to the fact that their child’s future may depend on their grasp of English, which of course is good news for Anglophones looking for work in France.
With the school year coming to an end, now is the time that agencies across France are recruiting English-speaking nannies and au pairs for the autumn school term.
“We’ve had so many requests from families looking for nannies,” Virginia Bastide from the agency Le Répertoire de Gaspard told The Local, which is currently on the hunt for new nannies.
“It’s unusual to have such a high demand, there are lots of opportunities for English speakers. More and more parents are looking for English speakers to help their children learn English at an early age,” she added.
Some may perceive being a nanny in France as just babysitting abroad. But whether it’s as a new career or a gap year, helping French children develop their English can offer a rewarding experience.
“The nannies get a great insight into French culture and they can learn the language and also discover what life within a French family is really like,” says Bastide.
Being a nanny in France is also a great way for students to fund their social life and many agencies will offer you work that fits around your studies.
And for those who want a more serious career in childcare in France or use the experience as a stepping stone, agencies like Le Répertoire de Gaspard can offer you something more than just a chance to make money.
“It can be quite difficult if people want to build a future in France because they will often need a French qualification. So we have just launched a new training course that starts in September which will give students a recognized diploma at the end of it,” Bastide says.
“We can also help them to learn the French language and about French culture. We have our own in-house French teacher and we organize lots of social events where they can meet other people.”
Pitfalls to look out for
However agencies are not the only way to find work as a nanny in France.
If you are looking to go it alone and avoid going through an agency then you might be able to negotiate better pay and have more flexibility, but ultimately you might be taking a risk.
Classified ad sites like Craigslist contain many genuine adverts from parents looking for English-speaking nannies and if you opt for this route then just make sure you stick to some basic rules.
“They should always make sure they sign a contract with the family,” Bastide advises. “We've heard of people not being paid and it turned into a nightmare for them because they didn't have a contract.”
There's also the danger that nannies or au pairs who live with their host families can be taken advantage of and can end up playing the role of a parent rather than an English-speaking babysitter as this blogger can testify.
There's also the salaries, which can very widely. A nanny working for an agency like Répertoire de Gaspard can expect to earn between 10 and 20 euros an hour. If you are freelance you can ask for more depending on your experience.
If you are working with children under the age of three, then, by law in France, you have to have a relevant childcare diploma or at least three years experience of working with children, unless you are accompanied by an adult.
However, If you apply directly to a family then they might take you on even if you have no qualifications or experience. But most agencies will want to see proof that you have actually worked with children before.
“It could be experience from working as a teacher or at a summer camp or as a childminder or babysitter,” says Bastide.
Some agencies are more strict at vetting nannies than others and many will want to make sure you don’t have a criminal record either in your home country or in France. Although native English speakers are the most sought after by families, agencies will offer jobs to anyone whose level of English is up to scratch.
Apart from English and experience, the final attribute you will need is enthusiasm. “They have to love kids and be lively and dynamic,” says Bastide.
Case study: Clare Best, 27, from the UK has been working as a nanny in France for two years. Here she tells The Local about her career.
How did you end up in Paris?
I loved kids and wanted to get into teaching, so working as a nanny was perfect and a great experience. First I got my English Teaching Certificate for adults, but my first teaching position was with children so I decided to stick with kids.
Do you get enough work as a nanny to survive in Paris?
I basically get as much work as I want because I speak English. Paris is an expensive place to live but I can easily earn enough to live off.
How do you find working with French children?
It’s a really rewarding experience being part of their lives and seeing them develop. It can be quite tiring and I can end up working long, anti-social hours.
What’s the best thing about working through an agency?
The security. If you're not happy with your family then the agency can find something else for you.
For more information on the jobs offered by Le Répertoire de Gaspard, CLICK HERE.