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LIVING IN FRANCE

Childcare in France: What are the options and how do you sign up

France has a very comprehensive network of childcare available but there are a lot of different options and navigating the system is not always easy. Here is our guide to the early years.

Childcare in France: What are the options and how do you sign up
There are lots of different options for childcare for under-threes in France. Photo: AFP

From the start of this school year, it will be compulsory for children living in France to be in education from the age of three. 

But what if your children are under three years old? What types of daycare exists in France for infants and pre-kindergarten years?

Here’s our guide to all types of childcare for children under three years old available in France.  

Let’s start with the most common one, the crèche. 

Known as daycare centres in English, there are various types of them in France and can be either public or private. 

The costs of all public daycares are calculated per family income according to a scale established by the CNAF (Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales) (branch of the French social security that oversees family subsidies). Daycare is paid monthly.

  1. Community daycare  (crèche associatives)

Run by early childcare professionals, these daycares are subsided by local authorities and the CAF (the government body that helps families by offering different services and benefits which start from early childhood, including crèche, childcare centres, education, holidays, family allowances, pregnancy benefits and housing benefits.) Registration is usually done directly with the head of the establishment and it depends on the spots available and the decision of the assigning committee. 

       2. Day care run by a parent collective approved by the département’s PMI (Protection Maternelle Infantile – public health centres set up for the well-being of mothers and children up to six years old). Parents are responsible for the functioning of the day care.

  1. Municipal daycares 

Registration to these daycares is made at each borough municipality usually around the 6th month of pregnancy. The request must be confirmed after the birth of the child and then regularly renewed.

Once a spot has been attributed to your child, you must make an appointment with the daycare within ten days. If you fail to make an appointment during this time period, you risk losing your place. 

Make sure to bring your child’s birth certificate and any documents relating to parental authority. 

However, the admission of your child will be made final by the daycare’s in-house doctor. 

For a list of documents to bring, check your préfecture's website. 

Private daycares

Some daycares are run by private companies for the use of their employees. It might be worth checking with your employer if they offer this service. A spot is usually reserved with the agreement of the employer and a financial contribution from parents is normally required. 

Other private daycares take in children according to their own criteria. Private daycare centres, however, are subject to the same regulations, standards, and approvals as other nurseries. 

What other types of daycare exist in France?

If you think that a daycare centre is not you or your child, then there are other options available, which can be divided into four different categories: nursery assistant, at-home childcare, halte-garderies, and jardins d’enfants. 

Nursery assistant (assistantes maternelles or nourrice) is an early childhood professional who takes care of up to four children at their home or in a nursery. They must be approved by the departmental council.  

At-home childcare (garde à domicile) is when a privately-contracted babysitter comes to the child's home and takes care of him or her there. 

Halte-garderie 

This is a part-time daycare option. A child can only attend an halte-garderie for a maximum of three half-days per week. It’s an interesting option for stay-at-home parents or parents working part-time who only need a few hours of daycare. 

Halte-garderies can either be public or private and a child’s admission is decided by the head of the establishment after an interview with the parents. 

Jardins d’enfants

Halfway between a daycare and kindergarten (école maternelle), is the jardins d’enfants. The Jardins d’enfants offer everything that a normal daycare would with a stronger emphasis on educational activities meant to prepare children for kindergarten and school.

It receives children from ages two to six. As of 2019, children from three to six years old will be able to pursue their early years education in a jardins d'enfants

They can be either public or private establishments. 

It's worth noting that regardless the type of childcare you choose, it's worth declaring the cost of this care in your annual tax declaration as it will mean a reduction in your tax bill. 

 

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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