Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 3 months ago

Interviews

Camille Spanjaard

"Paris with children is a great experience…. especially when they are older than 4 years old: beside the “must visit” places (such as Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Le Louvre, etc.. ) there are so many activities, workshops, shows etc made for them that you cannot spend a week-end without knowing what to do with the kids. However with babies, Paris is not the most kid-friendly city in the world… but Parisians parents manage very well even without high-chairs or changing mat in each restaurant. Hopefully I can now see some changes to a more baby and child-friendly city…but we need be patient" (CS, Sep 2011)

  • Camille Spanjaard

    What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Paris?
    My name is Camille, I’m 39, and I’ve lived in Paris for 15 years.

    How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
    I’m the mother of 2 children, who are now 4 and an (important !) half and 6.

    Do you work and if so what do you do?
    I do work in Paris. I manage my own baby equipment rental company, I founded in 2009.

    What was your experience of having children in Paris?
    Paris with children is a great experience…. especially when they are older than 4: besides the “must visit” places (such as Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Le Louvre, etc.. ) there are so many activities, workshops, shows etc… made for them you cannot spend a week-end without knowing what to do with the kids.  However with babies, Paris is not the most kid-friendly city in the world… but Parisians parents manage very well even without high-chairs or changing mat in each restaurant…Hopefully I can now see some changes to a more baby and child-friendly city…but we need be patient.

    For those who don`t know, can you describe what is Paris like?
    Paris is simply a beautiful city with a high cultural offering. After 15 years living in Paris, I still never get bored to see the Opera, the Eiffel Tower lights, Haussmann buildings all around… One of my best pleasures is to walk in the city and simply look around…there’s always something new to discover. And there are so many museums and exhibitions, you’ll always find one that fits your day mood (do not hesitate to go to “smaller” museums…there are hidden treasures there!).

    What language do you speak to your children?
    French only. But hopefully they learn a bit of English at school…that’s great to have their ears used listening foreign languages (by the way each time they hear a foreign languages they’re questioning if this is English…)

    Do you feel that you need to speak French to be fully integrated in Paris?
    I do speak French as this is my mother tongue. Unfortunately, I think this is mandatory to speak French to be integrated in Paris, as most French people do not speak any foreign language.

    How would you describe a typical local?
    Sometimes arrogant; certainly too busy. And they usually forget their smile at home (yes, they do smile when they are home or with friends).

    Do your children go to a nursery or have any childcare, and if so how do you rate it?
    My children are now 4 and 6 and now go to public school (that starts when children are 3), the one close to our house. We’re lucky to have a small school (6 classes only) where everybody knows each other. That makes the atmosphere for children, teachers and parents very pleasant.

    Are there any particular activities for kids or shops you can recommend in Paris?
    Now that my kids are no more babies/toddlers, I really like going with them to Cité de la musique (music museum). We can discover instruments we don’t know and listen to them. My kids also like very much going to Jardin d’acclimatation (in Neuilly, close Paris suburb) to play in its huge playgrounds and go for few rides on carousels.

    What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Paris?
    I’m unfortunately not part of International Community. But being of it could certainly be a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world.

    Is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
    Paris is not very baby-friendly. Elevators in the metro would be very helpful for Parisians parents. Hopefully buses network improved a lot these last few years, and it is now easy (and almost as fast) to take the bus than the metro with a stroller.

    What could you live without in Paris?
    Traffic jams.

    What couldn´t you live without in Paris?
    Beautiful buildings all around. And its museums and activities for adults and children.

    (September 2011)