Navigating Paris with small children in tow can be quite the challenge. Just ask any Parisian parent who’s ever had to carry a stroller up a flight of metro stairs. Expat parents have the added stress of figuring out the medical and childcare systems, and if they don’t speak French, there’s also the language barrier. Add to all of this the high cost of living in the city and it’s easy to see why newly arrived expat parents in Paris can quickly become overwhelmed.
But parenting in Paris isn’t all bad. We are talking about Paris after all! The city is overflowing with great resources for parents; it’s just a matter of finding them. Here are a few free or inexpensive resources recommended by Paris-based Expat mums to help you enjoy the best of parenting in Paris and avoid some of the less fun parts.
1. Find a Local Expat Community
Being part of a local expat community can help eliminate some of the stress that comes with moving to a new country and can be a great source for money-saving tips. Paris-based expat mums will want to check out Message, a non-profit organization that serves as a parenting resource for English speaking parents and soon-to-be parents living in and around Paris. “Without them, I would have fallen into a black hole,” says Melissa, who credits Message with helping her navigate the French healthcare system when she was pregnant and didn’t yet speak French.
2. Saving on Shopping
Finding children’s clothes that look nice and are the right size can seem futile when it comes to dressing growing and active kids. Things that once fit quickly become too small and stains and tears that come with everyday activities leave new outfits looking worse for the wear. Second-hand shops are the perfect solution to the second problem, but can be hit-or-miss when it comes to style. Luckily, Parisian mums have a stylish option in the heart of the city. Located in the trendy Marais district, Le Dépot Bobo was created by an Elle fashion writer when she had her son. The boutique features designer children’s clothing items at discount prices. Their vide-dressing events offer even bigger sales as the entire inventory is replaced with new items.
3. Parent-Child Cafés
A number of cafés that cater to both parents and children have sprouted up all over the city. Parents can take a break while reading a magazine and sipping tea and kids are free to explore the café play area. Two recommended favorites are Petit Pois in the 18th district and Le Cafézoïde in the 19th.
The local ludothèque is another handy resource worth checking out in Paris. These toy libraries are sprinkled throughout the city and are a great money-saving option for parents. Membership typically costs just 2 euros a month and toys for several different age groups are available.
Stefanie runs the website www.freeinparis.com where she shares free events and money saving tips for those living in or visiting Paris.