Activities Out of Class

Find out about the facilities available to you and your toddlers in France...

Out of Class Activities

Most Town Halls (mairies), schools, colleges and even tourist offices have lists of local clubs, associations and sports centres that offer children’s activities. Unlike many countries, in France there are rarely opportunities to carry out a specific out of school activity in the school itself, and free of charge. If your child wants to play a specific sport or an instrument, or have theatre, singing or an artistic activity, you will have to find a club or association yourself, and then pay an annual fee.

Clubs and associations often distribute flyers at school gates during the first weeks of a new school year. Traditionally these clubs start their year in October and end the following June. During the month of September many offer free trial classes for sports or activities such as tennis, football, martial arts so that a child can try that activity before committing to the whole year. This means that you don’t need to invest in all the clothing and equipment until October when your child is enrolled and the year's tariff paid. While the fees for these activities are generally inexpensive, it is always possible to arrange to pay the year's fee in instalments. Activities are normally held on Wednesdays and/or Saturdays, as the school day is quite long, although there are many activities that take place after school and start around 6pm. 

For music lessons, check with the town hall if there is a music school, called conservatoire, which often provides cheaper music lessons than with a private teacher. However, all of these conservatoires generally require that kids do solfege lessons, which is theory and sight reading and can put off children that just want to learn an instrument.

Most towns have a Maison de la Jeunesse et de la Culture, which is a youth cultural centre and can be a great resource for finding activities and workshops during the holidays.

In Paris there are many Atelier Bleu associations, which provide opportunities for kids to practice a sport at the school grounds after school.

In order to join any sports club, you will find that your child will need a medical certificate stating that they are apt to practice that sport.

Summer and Holiday Camps

A holiday camp in France is called a Colonie de Vacances. These camps, which mostly take place in the summer, allow for children to go away and stay for one, two or three weeks a in a centre which specialises in outdoor activities or other themed activities such as art, theatre or music. During the winter season, there are also camps for children to go skiing. The Colonies de Vacances usually cater to older children, although many do take younger children, even from age 4 and up to 18 years old. There are many Colonies de Vacances throughout France, where it is a long-enjoyed tradition. Each centre is independently operated. You should contact the chosen centre directly at least two months before the holidays to receive enrolment forms. There are also many options now for children to go and participate in camps that are exclusively in English.

Carnivals, Halloween and Christmas

Each year children have the opportunity to participate in a variety of festivities. February is the traditional start of the Carnival (called Carnaval in French), during which there are costumed processions (défilés) in most towns and some villages and even at school.

Halloween has grown in popularity in France in recent years and you’ll find more and more children visiting your home on the evening of 31 October in fancy dress, asking for sweets (bonbons).

Christmas in France brings many things for children to see and enjoy, from the lights and decorations, to temporary ice-skating rinks, Christmas villages and more. In France Christmas is celebrated on the 24th in the evening, and Father Christmas arrives at the end of the evening after the traditional Christmas meal.