How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
Paris offers everything you need to raise children, from basic needs to education and interesting entertainment. A favorite for toddlers are public parks, which have well-maintained playgrounds and are peaceful spots for activities and interaction with French children.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
The local mairie (town hall) provides useful lists, including information about garderies , or daycare
centers that will take care of children from 3 months to 6 years old for a few hours a week. These can be good places for newcomers to meet people. Babysitters are usually found through agencies or personal referrals.
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
Nothing beyond the normal precautions you should take in any city, including never leaving a young child alone.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
Public parks stay open all year round; however, hours vary depending on the seasons and daylight duration. Several museums offer year-round activities and exhibits geared toward children, such as the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires (Museum of Traditional Folk Arts), the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History) and the Cité des Sciences (City of Sciences). Two major theme parks are within 25 km of Paris: Eurodisney and the Asterix Park, which features the Gallic cartoon character with the same name.
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
Besides the activities already mentioned, children also have the opportunity to spend time at local public libraries, which are of a high standard in Paris. French TV has many programs to entertain and educate kids as well.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
Teenagers have the possibility of making friends in their community through their school system. Just like in any big city, the right choice of friends is important. They generally maintain their usual activities: swimming, rollerblading, socializing at McDonald's and Hard Rock Cafés. Some are more adventurous and take advantage of what the city offers in the way of exposure to miscellaneous cultures: by going to museums and specialized libraries.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
The local mairie (town hall) also publishes lists of extracurricular activities. Each arrondissement (district) has at least one centre d'animation (activity center) that offers all kinds of classes and evenconcerts geared for that age range.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
As children are able to learn foreign languages easily, and French is the main spoken language, encourage your children to make friends and socialize with local children. It may be a great opportunity for your child to become bilingual.
In public schools, an effort is made to have a special teacher a few hours a week to teach French to children between 7 and 15. This is organized, upon request, by the school itself.
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