"I had my baby at a public maternity ward. Women who give birth in Paris are very lucky to be able to benefit from all the following services at a low cost : "training classes for birth", a rather long stay at the maternity ward after giving birth, perineal reeducation either with a midwife or a physical therapist after birth, free of charge baby follow-up visits at the PMI . Also, there is physical therapy (kiné respiratoire) for babies with respiratory problems (bronchiolites) in the winter time, it really helps . I enjoyed being pregnant and having my baby here. The only drawback I can think of is the long waiting list when you want to see a pediatrician. I ended up going to a MD (médecin généraliste) who is used to take care of babies/children; MDs are less expensive than pediatricians" (IG, July 2011)
What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Paris? Whereabouts do you live?
Isabelle, 43; 5 years in Paris, 17th arrondissement (Porte de Champerret)
Why did you decide to move there?
New job assignment.
What nationality are you and your partner?
I am French; my partner is American but he does not live in France.
How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
One child aged 3, born in Nantes (44).
Do you work and if so what do you do?
I am a civil servant in the French administration.
What was your experience of having a baby in Paris?
I had my baby at a public maternity ward. Women who give birth in Paris are very lucky to be able to benefit from all the following services at a low cost : "training classes for birth", a rather long stay at the maternity ward after giving birth, perineal reeducation either with a midwife or a physical therapist after birth, free of charge baby follow-up visits at the PMI . Also, there is physical therapy (kiné respiratoire) for babies with respiratory problems (bronchiolites) in the winter time, it really helps . I enjoyed being pregnant and having my baby here. The only drawback I can think of is the long waiting list when you want to see a pediatrician. I ended up going to a MD (médecin généraliste) who is used to take care of babies/children; MDs are less expensive than pediatricians.
How well integrated would you say you and your son are?
I think pretty well, my son has a network of young friends and he goes to their place and they come to our place, even for sleepovers (eventhough he is only three). Network is very important to rely on when you do not have family nearby.
What language do you speak to your son?
I speak French. But I take my son to English workshops as much as I can.
Do you rent or own a property and how did you find the renting/buying process?
I rent; renting was easy since I am a civil servant with a steady income.
Do you think it essential for someone to speak French when relocating to Paris?
It makes everydaylife much easier but it is not essential, unless you come to work here. Nowadays, you find French people who speak English in nearly every business ; there are also many ways to find support from fellow citizens who speak French.
How welcoming have the Parisians been towards you and your family?
So so .. it takes time to win their trust and you have to be willing to make the first step and be patient. You feel "accepted" when you are finally invited for an aperitif at a Parisians home !
How would you describe a typical Parisian?
Arrogant (especially with people from Province), indifferent and sometimes agressive. But open-minded, educated and "in love" with their city.
What is your impression of childcare and education in Paris?
It really depends on the neighbourhood where you live and on the director of the school/daycare. But overall, childcare and education is good with well trained staff, and almost free.
What school(s)/nursery(ies) does your son go to?
Public daycare center (run by the Paris Cityhall-Mairie de Paris).
Why did you choose this centre and are you happy with your choice?
Very happy. This daycare was the closest to my appt. I was on a waiting list and was very lucky to get a spot for my son. Staff is excellent, opening hours are from 7:30am until 6:30pm which is very convenient. Food is made on-site by a cook.
Are there any services, activities for kids, day-trips for kids, family-friendly restaurants or kids’ shops you’d like to recommend?
Family-friendly restaurants : Buffalo grill , Hippopotamus.
Kids shops : for the clothes and/or baby equipment Du Pareil au Même, Sergent Major, Tout compte fait ; for toys Le Bonhomme de Bois ; for sports and outdoors activity equipment Decathlon ; for books, Dvds, Cds and show tickets Fnac .
Activities : The Bus Bilingue English workshops, painting workshops and yoga classes for children (in English)
Days trips : La Cité des enfants (Paris La villette, 19th arrondissement), Jardin du Luxembourg for pique-nique, playground and carrousel, Eurodisney (avoid week-ends !), Playmobil playground (near Roissy, by RER), Palais de la Découverte, Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes (Paris 5ème arrondissement), Jardin dAcclimatation.
What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Paris?
I can only see advantages : you exchange with people from different countries and cultures; it also benefits your children to be exposed to other cultures and languages. The only risk is to interact only with your own fellow citizens, especially if you do not speak French.
Is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
More elevators and escalators in the subway would be a big help ! Also, water sprays (when it is hot) and more swings in parks (squares) would be nice.
What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Paris with children?
If you plan to give birth in Paris, book your spot at the maternity ward way ahead of time (especially for the American or British hospitals). If you would prefer natural birth vs C-Section, investigate about the C-Section rate at the clinique/hospital maternity ward you plan to go to. Some places tend to "do" more C-sections than others.
Like everywhere else, when relocating, try pick a neighbourhood with good schools, parks and nearby public transportation. Have emergency numbers + closest hospital address and taxi company telephone number handy, just in case.
What couldn´t you live without in Paris?
Cafés and boulangeries.
What could you live without in Paris?