Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 4 weeks ago

Interviews

Joanna Page - Paris

"Finding a place in a maternity in Paris can be a real nightmare. When I told my Parisian friends I was two months pregnant and did not yet “have” a maternity they literally told me it was too late, and I would probably have to go to the suburbs. Most women in Paris book their maternity before they get pregnant. But as I wanted a natural birth, preferably in water it was absolutely essential for me to go to one of the two, more “gentle birth” orientated maternities “les bluets” or “les lilas” . I was lucky enough to be accepted in “les lilas” (JP, June 2011)

  • Interview with Joanna Page

    My name is Joanna, I’m 24 years old and I live in the 18th. I moved to Paris two years ago, with my partner Matthieu. I am part English part French, and met my partner when living in London. We decided to move back to France together, I didn’t really know Paris, as I come from the South (the Var region) but we figured we could find work here, which we did. Matt now works at “la cite des science” as a scientific mediator, and is conference guide at “le jardin des plantes” and “le museum d’histoire naturelle”. When we moved here I worked in a few places before my uk based agency found me a position as a nanny for the artist Anselm Keifer. In May 2010 I found out I was pregnant! So I decided to quit my job, and just relax and get ready for this amazing new life.
    Finding a place in a maternity in Paris can be a real nightmare. When I told my Parisian friends I was two months pregnant and did not yet “have” a maternity they literally told me it was too late, and I would probably have to go to the suburbs. Most women in Paris book their maternity before they get pregnant. But as I wanted a natural birth, preferably in water it was absolutely essential for me to go to one of the two, more “gentle birth” orientated maternities “les bluets” or “les lilas” . I was lucky enough to be accepted in “les lilas”.
    I was followed there every month, often by different midwifes. I did not find them very caring, they always made me wait at least 45 mins, without even apologising!
    I had a pretty tough birth, it lasted over 48 hrs, and had to be transferred from “les lilas” to “les bluets” because their elevator was out of service. I will also mention that Les lilas lost part of my file, so when I arrived at Les bluets they had to do some blood test and send them to the lab. Once in Les bluets though all went really smoothly with the staff. The building in itself is brand new, clean and very warm and welcoming. The birth rooms are fantastic; I had a birth pool, nothing to do with the relatively old and not very clean rooms at Les lilas.
    I had to have a C- section, but I felt well surrounded and taken care of. The days after the birth of my baby boy I was given a lovely room with a private bathroom and a bay window looking over Paris. I was given good advice, and friendly staff regularly popped in to check up on baby and me.
    I highly recommend Les bluets, but I was quite disappointed with Les Lilas.
    Since the birth of Kyam I have discovered some nice baby friendly places in my area.
    One of them is within the 104 arts centre in the 19th. Inside the building is hidden away a fantastic little place dedicated to toddlers from 0-5 yrs. There are several child carers there but you cant leave your child there alone, it is for child and parent. It’s a great place for baby to play, mummy to relax and meet other parents, in a design, quiet and safe place.
    http://www.104.fr/ - /fr/Services/34-Maison_des_petits

    Down the road from here, on the canal de l’ourq, is “café zoid”. This colourful, laid back cafe is all about letting the child find his autonomy. There aren’t too many rules; kids are free to play as they please, and gently asked to clean after themselves. It is very open in a Montessori- Steiner kind of approach.
    http://www.cafezoide.asso.fr/

    Renting flats in Paris is a real nightmare from my experience. A descent 2 bedroom flat in central Paris is a minimum of 1700 euros a month. Even if you are a couple of young professionals gaining free times the rent you need to prove all sorts of things and sometimes even queue up just to visit! We found a 1 bedroom, through Craigslist. We are now looking for a 2 bed, but finding it really hard!
    I think Paris is one of those cities where not speaking french is not really an issue. The first year I spent here I was surrounded by so many English speakers that I often said "hello" instead of "bonjour" by mistake when walking into a shop! I also found that most Parisians are really happy to try out there English.
    I speak English to my son, and my partner speaks to him in french. As he doesnt talk yet I dont know what he is going to pick up first!
    If I could change something about Paris, the housing situation! The prices to buy or rent are just ridiculous.
    What I wouldn’t change? The village feel, cobbled streets, markets, café’s, le canal st martin I love it !!

    June 2011