Sign up to Local Activities in Paris for Kids
by NY Super Mama, Ami Cadugan
After a glorious summer spent traveling back to the US (with a pit stop in Dublin to drink Guinness and dream of meeting U2), New York Mama Ami Cadugan is back to share her first Parisian Rentrée experience. For the “New-to-Paris” or just ‘never – knew’ Mamas out there, the “Inscription” or registration process for Extra-Curricular activities can be quite daunting. Ami (@amitakesonparis) however, is here to provide some helpful tips.
So the school year has just started (Viva La Rentrée!) and already you are thinking about cost-effective extra-curricular activities. Don’t forget the multiple, two-week vacances (or vacations) that pop-up during the year either. So what’s a “New-To-Paris” Mama” to do? Especially if you only “parle un petit peu français”? Follow these handy tips to navigate your way through it!
Extra Curricular Activities are called “Activités Extrascolaires” and are usually organized by the local Mairie (or town Hall). They subcontract with many “centres de loisirs” (“centers of recreation”) around each Arrondissement, so that you can find the perfect activity for your child, close to your home. They have all kinds of pamphlets (in French, naturally) describing all the activities that are offered. Get your translator apps ready!
Many families will use the vacance (vacation) time to travel, which is a great way to bond and expose your little ones to fabulous European culture; and while France has a very generous vacation policy, companies generally don’t offer 8 weeks of vacation during the school year, on top of the 10 weeks that school is “off” for summer. That leaves you with a need to fill this time with activities for your kids.
A very cost-effective way to engage your kids is to send them to what amounts to “day camp” at the local “Ecole Elementaire” or public school, close to your home. They will be “entertained” from 8:30am-5:30pm daily, fed a delicious French meal and get to practice speaking French with kids their own ages, leaving you free to wander Paris at your leisure. A win-win for all!
This past summer, my kids went to a French School everyday for three and a half weeks costing around €15 per day. I also signed my daughter up for a year of athletics. 4 days per week all year round was €130! A great deal considering some of the more expensive private alternatives on offer.
So what’s the catch? Well, it if was easy to get through the registration (inscription) process, every expat would do it. But, if you are the type that won’t take “no” or “non”, for an answer, then keep reading.
So first, you head down to your local Mairie (town hall) and start looking for extra-curricular activities for your kids. You will be pleasantly surprised at the offerings! Football, Gym, Tennis, Swimming, Athletics, Holiday camps, Music – the list is endless. Remain calm and drink vin rouge if necessary to steady your nerves.! The inscription process will be time consuming the first time you do it, but so much easier every time after. However, do not go empty handed! This is Paris aka bureaucracy city, so you need a bunch of stuff to get it all nailed down.
Here is a list of the paperwork (all required in French) that you will need to register for these activities. Remember, always bring copies, NEVER originals!
Passport Sized Photos
Any activity will require 1-2 passport-sized photos of your child. There are Photomaton http://www.photomaton.fr/ machines in most Metro stations. Bring a 5€ note per child, which will buy you a sheet of 5 pictures. FYI, many machines seem to have “issues” with coins and credit cards.
Carnet de Santé
Your children’s medical records MUST be translated into French and transcribed into this specific booklet. Pick this up at the Mairie, make an appointment with a Pediatrician for each of your children to be seen for a physical, and the doctor will fill it out then. The Pediatrician does not have the Carnet de Santé “in-house”. You must bring one booklet, per child, with you. Once complete, you need to photocopy the front of the booklet with your child’s name as well as the vaccination pages for every inscription you chose.
Justificatif de Domiclie
To prove you live in Paris. A copy of your EDF (electric), GDF(gaz) or Téléphone Fixe (land line or cable) bill will work.
Assurance Extra-Scolaire (or Assurance Scolaire Obligatoire)
Literally this means obligatory student insurance. EVERY activity requires it! The good news is that it’s inexpensive (about €11 per child, per year), can be purchased online and it’s possible to get multiple children on the same contract. Again, everything is French, so make sure to have a friend or translator app handy!
Here are a few to choose from:
Livret de Famille
Translated into French, you will need a COPY of EVERYONE’S birth certificates and your marriage license. As a backup, bring a copy of the photo page from Passports/Visas. Hopefully you can easily access this paperwork, as you would have needed them to obtain your French residency permits.
Tarif Caisse des Ecoles
French tax return or pay stub. The pay scale for some activities is determined by income. Remember, France is all about “Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité!” If you don’t have it, don’t worry. They will charge you at a higher rate. It’s still a bargain compared to what it would cost you to entertain your kids all day in Paris!
Numero de Securite Social
Social Security Number. It doesn’t seem to be a problem if you don’t have this, speaking from personal experience. If you child has a Document de Circulation pour Éntrancer Mineur (basic French ID card), bring a copy.
Hopefully this guide will save you some time (and what remains of your sanity). In the end, everyone will be happier for your efforts!
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @amitakesonparis for more daily tidbits about Parisian living!
Thanks Ami for this fabulous and useful tip. Mamas get planning! This will make your life in Paris so much easier given the extensive school holidays bestowed on us by France. The October break is just 6 weeks away and this is a great way to keep the kids busy.
Also, now is the time! September is the month to get yourself registered, not just for kid activities but for any leisure interests you have in mind for you. Do it now!
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Check out our rentrée post too, for more insights
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