Moving to Paris with Children

Information and advice on preparing the family for a move to Paris: the schools, sports, social and educational activities, facilities available to the family and more...

Children of every age, but especially young children, need to be prepared for a move well in advance.

  • Make the children part of the process, show them on a map where France is, where Paris is, how far it is from "home", but also what possibilities they have for re-visiting your home country and when
  • Discuss how you will be going (plane, train, car)
  • Help them chose a few precious items from their rooms to keep in their suitcase and/or hand luggage as well as some photos of your existing home. These familiar objects can help a child bridge the gap between his old and new home. Discuss the possibility of taking family pets with to your new home, if that is at all possible

Likewise, tell them about their new home, what fun things there are to do, but also what the school they are going too will be like.

If possible, show them photos of the school that they will be attending, or even better, let them visit the schools that are on your short-list together with you. This will re-assure them, and help them to prepare for the changes ahead.

Children tend to overcome the language barrier quicker than adults, especially if they are in French or bilingual schools. It's recommended to prepare by taking French lessons ahead of a move to France, and to continue with them after arrival.

Finding Accomodation

A Paris house or flat hunt should start well ahead of time. Paris is well-serviced with English-speaking estate agents as well as house hunters. An area to live in can be selected based on the criteria:

  • Proximity to school
  • Proximity to work
  • Access to community facilities/leisure options

If the help of relocation agents is within budget, their assistance in this selection process should prove very useful. Relocation agents can help with preparations of a move and can assist with initial procedures which can be difficult to deal with, even with fluent French.

Most of the International schools are on the Western side of Paris/Ile de France.

Many expatriates choose to live in the départements to the west of Paris and commute for work, as it is possible to rent a house in these areas, as opposed to living in an apartment in central Paris. However, central Paris offers a number of real attractions for an expatriate family.

Practicalities

Geographically, Paris is relatively small, it is roughly four kilometres square and thus is very easy to walk, cycle or rollerblade around.

Paris is well-serviced by public transport, the metro (underground/subway) system is fast, clean and inexpensive; the bus transport system is convenient. Taxis are numerous, and the joint, taxi-bus lanes as introduced by the municipality make getting around the city by public transport very quick indeed.

Unless you live in the suburbs, it's entirely possible to get around Paris without owning a car.

Central Paris has relatively few parks, but they are very well-maintained and even the smallest parks have play equipment for younger children. It is easy to access the "great outdoors" from Paris, and the Ile de France offers an endless supply of activities and parks.

Day trips out of Paris are numerous and many of these are geared to children.

Schools and Universities

Depending on individual needs and budget, the choice exists of putting your children into uni-lingual national schools, international schools, bilingual schools, private French schools or state-run French schools. The choice is vast and it's recommended to research the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

There are several options available within Paris and the Ile de France for university-going children to study in English and/or French.

After Hours Facilities

Paris has many activities for children, there are many sporting associations, museums, cultural activities and play areas that cater for children.

There are municipal swimming pools and water-parks and within Paris.

Most French restaurants welcome children and are also some restaurants chains that specialise in a family restaurant experience.