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How to Become an Au Pair in France

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Being an au pair was way different than I thought it would be.

I imagined this dreamy job where I would be taking care of children in a foreign country, getting all of my expenses paid for while in the meantime I would be able to save up money and travel on my weekends and days off.

Only some of this is true.

It's definitely a job I love but comes with its fair share of cons, just like any job does. While becoming an au pair is one of the most straightforward ways to get here, it certainly isn't the only way to move to France.

While you get to work and live in a foreign country, in this case France, for basically free, it's not a great option if your goal is to save money. On the bright side, you do get to fully immerse yourself into life abroad.

For me, I chose to become an au pair in Paris. I've always been interested in France and knew I wanted to learn even more about the country by living here. There are so many interesting facts about France and experiencing them firsthand has been such a cool perk of the job.

Now, let's dive right in and see how you can follow in my footsteps to become an au pair in France.

Short on time? Here's the cheat sheet:

👶As an au pair in France, you're expected to look after your host family's kid(s). Your specific duties will vary from family to family.
🏙️Most au pairs want to live in Paris but there are a ton of other great cities and towns to choose from.
👩‍🏫The main requirements to become an au pair in France are: 

  • You are aged 18-30
  • You are not married, or have any children of your own
  • You're willing to study French while living here

What is an Au Pair?

First things first, let's make sure we're all on the same page.

An au pair is a young person that moves to a foreign country and lives and works with a native family. The distinguishing fact between being an au pair and a nanny is that an au pair is typically someone who speaks a different native language than the host family.

Duties typically range from caring for children, speaking your native tongue, and occasionally doing light housekeeping and laundry.

Duties can depend widely on what the family needs and desires. You could end up working as little as 10 hours a week or up to 35-40 hours. Although the general average is about 25-30 hours.

Working as an au pair is normally seen as a type of foreign exchange where you contribute to your host family's life by providing help with the kids and around the house in exchange for room and board, an allowance, and the experience of living in another culture.

While I chose to become an au pair in France, another popular option is to become an au pair in the Netherlands.

Requirements to Become an Au Pair in France

Lucky for you, there aren't aren't many specific requirements or qualifications in order to apply to become an au pair. The main ones are that you're aged 18-30 and aren't not married and don't have any children of your own. You also must be willing to go to French language classes while here.

On top of that, there are some additional things that will help you find a good French host family faster. For example:

  • Experience with childcare
  • Speaking another language other than French
  • But at the same time knowing a bit of French
  • Sports or musical talents

‍Having previous childcare experience helps a lot! Think about things like babysitting, caring for your younger siblings, working at a summer camp. If you have any prior experience, it'll help a lot to get a job. But do know that even without any prior experience, it's still possible to get a job. Don't give up hope just because you have never taken care of children before.

You might have other skills that'll help you get a job. Parents can find sitters or nannies in their home country so they’ll want an au pair for something that's harder to find in France.

For example, many families are searching for an au pair that has another language skill.

For me, my host family was looking for a native English speaker to teach their children English, so being a native or near-native speaker of English, Spanish, French, German, or another well known language will help in finding a host family.

Also having a base knowledge of the language you will be living amongst will help tremendously! I can say that from experience. I knew no French before moving to France and it has been difficult living in a country where you can not converse with everyone. I would at least start learning the basics at home while applying, like on the app Mondly.

Sometimes families are looking for other skills like sports or musical talents. If you are a sporty person, enjoy music, or have unique talents and skills you could teach to another, it would be a good idea to put that in your profile online.

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How to Find a Job as an Au Pair

Starting the process of finding a host family is exciting!

There are so many different families from so many different countries! Even within France, you won't just find French families, although that's obviously the most common. Some of them offer the bare necessities while others offer a luxurious lifestyle. Remember that the host families need you more than you need them!

Take your time, talk to several families and pick the one that suits you the best. It's ok to talk to several families at a time. Just let them know that they are not the only host family you are considering.

Also consider the location of where the family lives. Do you want to live in the city? If so then find a family that lives close to the center of the city. Living in the city will help with finding friends abroad and a good au pair network.

For me, I was most interested in living in Paris but for a completely different experience, you might want to consider smaller towns like Annecy.

Websites to Find Job Openings

There are so many websites that offer to help match au pairs with families, either for free or for a small fee. Definitely check with the free ones before paying to be part of the paid ones. My personal favorite is AuPairWorld. It is super easy to navigate and they have a huge support group for you once you do become an au pair.

There are also Facebook pages such as Au Pair PARIS or AuPair Worldwide that are a great way to connect with host families and other au pairs.

When you make a profile with any of the agencies make sure you are super specific in your profile. A family is going to be attracted to a full profile, not one that only says the bare minimum.

These are some of the best au pair agencies and websites:

Typical Responsibilities of an Au Pair

The duties of the au pair widely range depending on the family and what they're looking for.

In my experience, I watch the children for an hour in the morning, get them breakfast, comb the girls hair, and then drop them off at school. In the afternoon I pick them up from school and bring them home. Once we get home from school, my host dad is normally home and I am done for the day. If he is not home yet I get them a snack and watch them until he is home.

For some families, you will be expected to do light housekeeping, laundry, cooking, bathing the children, and sometimes even driving the children to and from school and activities. You should by law have at least one day off every week. Most times you will get the weekends off.

Some countries have rules about how long an au pair can work every day and requirements on what the au pair can and cannot do.

The Logistics


Host families come from all different backgrounds and ways of life. Most families that can afford an au pair are doing well financially. However don't expect to be lounging around a pool with a cocktail all day long.

Although, there really are some cases where this may be your job description but that's certainly not the norm.

More likely than not, you'll be working for a normal family that lives in a normal neighborhood. Most families will offer their au pair a private bedroom and bathroom in their house. Some au pairs will have their own apartment near the host family's home.

Since I was working in Paris, this is what my host family offered me, a small yet private studio apartment.

Payment & Benefits

As an au pair in France, you should receive a weekly or monthly stipend. The easiest way to get paid is by opening a French bank account and having your family directly deposit your income there.

On top of this, the au pair should receive food, transportation, laundry privileges and possibly more perks.

This allowance should depend on how much the host family is already paying for and what you are needing to cover costs for yourself. There are laws about how much the family is to pay the au pair.

For example my host family pays for everything I need other than my French classes. Those are 500€ for a trimester and I get paid 100€ a week. Most families also pay for your health insurance. Make sure that you ask about this before you sign a contract. You do not want to get stuck in a foreign country with no health benefits at all. Especially when you are only living on an au pair's salary.

Perks as an Au Pair

Being an au pair has been one of the best decisions of my life! I love living in France and all that it offers. While the general cultural exchange is a lot of fun, there's a lot more I've gained than just the work aspects of things.

A few of my favorite perks as an au pair in France has included:

  • Indulging in French Food: I am a huge foodie so learning all the new flavors and textures of France has been one of my favorite things!
  • Making New Friends: I have also found some of my best friends here in France. Finding other au pairs that are from your own country or that even speak your native language is a lifesaver for staying sane in a country that is not your own! You will make some very deep connections and friends through this.
  • Calling Paris My Home: Paris is an amazing city with a huge diversity of languages, cultures, food, and sights to be seen. I would have to say that my favorite past time is heading to the Sacre Coeur in the 18th arrondissement, grabbing a crepe and watching all the people coming and going. Paris has a huge network of au pairs so it is always easy to find someone that wants to hang out.
  • Traveling in Europe: Another perk of being an au pair is that you normally get to travel with your host family when they go on family trips and vacations, with all your travel expenses paid. If you find a good family, it is like finding a second family. I have a great relationship with my host parents. I would consider them more as friends than anything else!
  • Learning French: The language is also another fun thing about being an au pair. Living in and amongst the French people has taught me a language I never dreamed of learning! It's a great way to learn a language or to sharpen your language skills.

You might even enjoy learning French so much that you'll want to stay in the country longer on a French student visa.

Do Some Extra Digging

One of my favorite places to get extra info about being an au pair is through Edwina and Hanna at Au Pair, Oh Paris. Just note that this site isn't as up-to-date anymore but we hope it'll be back on track soon!

These two girls used to be au pairs in Paris. They now live in Paris and own a small company catering to au pairs needs. They have a website, YouTube channel, host events for au pairs, and have even published a book about being an au pair! They have an amazing network that has helped me so much and answered so many of my questions when I was looking at becoming an au pair.

Another place that has a great list of topics is Au Pair Wiki. It is part of the Au Pair World's website and they go over almost every topic and question that is out there about being an Au pair.

Also make sure to talk to the former au pairs of the family you are interested in working for.

They will be your biggest help in finding out what the family is really like. In my case I am my host family's first au pair so I didn't have anyone to talk to about them. But I did as much research as I could. I friended them on Facebook and I FaceTimed and talked to my host mom nonstop! I found out as much as I could about them before I signed the contract.

Will You Become an Au Pair in France?

Now that you have all the basic knowledge on what it's like as an au pair in France, it's time for you to go for it and start job hunting! While you don't need to start applying for jobs like a mad woman just yet, it's a good idea to start poking around to see what's out there. Once you get a good sense of your options, then it's time to create your profiles and start applying!

Best of luck, France awaits!

All photos courtesy of depositphotos.com.

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