Information on working as an au pair in France. Details about legal requirements, legal rights, income, accommodation, safety and where to find work …
An au pair is normally a single person (aged between 18 and 30) who lives with a host family - usually in a country other than their homeland - in order to help with childcare during the day. In addition to their main duty, an au pair may also be asked to do other related activities such as light housework, babysitting, or even helping the children learn a new language or sport. An au pair can also be invited to take part in family activities.
Being an au pair provides the opportunity to study a language and culture while living as part of a family.
Finding a Host Family
There are many different ways to find a host family; the main ones are listed below.
When finding work via an online database or classified advertisement (that is, without the support of a conventional agency that normally carries out extensive screening of both parties) it is sometimes difficult to know the precise situation and expectations of the potential employer. Therefore, to ensure that the au pair and host family get what they are expecting, working conditions, duties, salary, days off and living conditions should be agreed upon before beginning work.
Au pair agencies
It is possible to find au pair placements through French agencies. Some agencies charge high fees that must be paid in advance. A number of established agencies belong to the Union Francaise des Associations Agences Au Pair
(French Union of Au Pair Agencies, UFAAP
Online agencies provide databases of host families looking for an au pair and au pairs looking for jobs. Prospective au pairs normally pay a small fee to register their details (age, nationality, relevant experience and usually a photograph) which then become accessible to registered host families. When an au pair finds a suitable host family (or vice versa) the two parties can make contact via email and then telephone and decide whether they are compatible.
Many families looking for an au pair use Internet forums to post classified advertisements. In general they give a brief outline of their requirements and ask potential au pairs to respond directly by phone or email. In addition, au pairs looking for work also place ads on these sites. In both cases the more information provided in these ads the better the chance of success.
: Young people already living in Paris can look for host families via classified advertisements posted on notice boards at organisations such as The American Church in Paris
and The American Library
Once agreement has been reached regarding working terms and conditions, the au pair and the employer/host family sign a contract, the Accord de placement au pair d’un stagiaire aide familial.
A non-EU citizen and the host family must sign the contract before the au pair leaves their home country. EU citizens can sign the contract after they have arrived in France.
A note about minimum age:
The contract may be entered into while the candidate is still 17. They should be 18 at the point at which they take up the position. In some cases (if the au pair has a parent resident in France) they may take up the position from age 17.
Visas and residence permits
There are different formalities for EU and non-EU citizens. EU/EEC nationals do not need to obtain a visa to enter France.
France has working-holiday agreements with several countries, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia. A national of one of the participating countries may work in France as an au pair provided that they are coming to France to travel and are using the au pair job to fund that travel. Anyone entering this programme must:
- Be aged between 18 and 30 when work begins
- Have a valid passport
- Have a return ticket showing the start date and end date of the trip
- Provide proof that they have the funds to cover expenses for the duration of the stay
For more information on the working holiday agreement, and to obtain a visa, potential au pairs should contact the nearest French Consulate in their home country.
Non-EU nationals (from countries without working-holiday agreements) intending to stay in France for more than 90 days must acquire a work visa prior to leaving for France which grants permission to stay in France for up to 12 months. To obtain a work permit, applicants must meet the following conditions:
- Be aged between 18 and 30 at the time of the visa application
- Have not participated in the scheme before
- Have a valid passport
- Have a return ticket or proof that the applicant has enough funds to purchase a return ticket
- Provide proof that the applicant has enough funds at the beginning of the stay to cover the expenses of the entire trip
To obtain a visa, au pairs should contact the nearest French Consulate in their home country.
A student already in France who would like to become an au pair must obtain a temporary work permit. It is not possible to become an au pair in France if visiting on a tourist visa.
A non-EU citizen is required to enrol in a French language course to achieve a minimum language standard. This should normally involve between three and ten hours of lessons per week. Most host families contribute towards the cost of language classes.
French lessons are offered by a variety of public associations/institutions and private companies. The local Mairie
(mayor’s office) should have information on associations offering classes.
Working hours and days off
An au pair will usually work between 25 and 30 hours per week and can be expected to work two or three evenings per week babysitting. They will normally be allowed one or two days off per week (one normally being Sunday).
The host family provides accommodation (a private bedroom) and all meals.
In addition, an au pair can expect to receive a salary (often called pocket money) which varies depending on the number of hours worked and the types of additional duties undertaken. Note: In Paris, host families also provide a monthly citywide travel pass.
The au pair will normally be asked to cover the cost of travel from their home country to France. In some instances the host family will pay part of the travel cost after working for at least half the agreed time.
In the event that something goes wrong or conditions are unsatisfactory, it is best to discuss this directly with the host family. If the issue cannot be resolved or be discussed with the host family, then the agency should be contacted for assistance.
Public and Private Health Insurance
Au pairs are entitled to French state-subsidised health insurance. The host family is obliged to register and pay any medical insurance contributions for their employee.
To be insured by the French national health service, the host family is responsible for registering the au pair as a Stagiaire Aide Familial
(student/family helper) with URSSAF
(Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d'Allocations Familiales
) and register them with their local French national health insurance provider (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie
) within eight days of their arrival.
Private health insurance is not obligatory in France but it is advisable that the au pair have health and travel insurance to cover the duration of their stay.
For more information on healthcare and insurance see:
Resources for Employers
- Information from the French Government website, Service Public (in French)
- IAPA (International Au Pair Association)