Enrolling an Australian Child in a French School

For anyone who has experienced French bureaucracy you will know the huge amount of paperwork and time it takes to get anything done. Those that haven’t experienced it let me tell you generally to do something simple it will involve 5 steps before you can do the actual thing you want to do. For example to enrol our daughter for lunch at her French school we had to call someone, to receive a code, so that we could then register, to get another code to actually register.

Enrolling our 3 year old Australian daughter into school was one of the easiest process we have ever encounter. We filled in the forms, then took them into the Hôtel de Ville, a lady there entered the information and voilà we were enrolled. The French are very proud, and rightly so, that they provide education to everyone. It is completely free for any child living in France to attend school.I know in Australia for a foreigner to even attend a public school it’s around $4,000.

 

A Very Minimal Christmas

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Our Christmas day itself is going to be a very relaxed affair as it is only the four of us. We will just eat lots of yummy, easy to prepare food, and spend the day with the girls, probably involving building cubby houses and adventuring at the local park. It is interesting that being so far away from family and friends, you really realise how how much about Christmas is about being with people. Especially where we live there is usually a steady stream of visitors for at least a week, with days playing with the growing broods of children and evenings spent in our backyard playing music and drinking cocktails. I am excited for our Christmas day this year because it is possibly the only year it will just be the four of us.

With our time in France drawing to an end, and lots of travel on the horizon, the last thing my husband and I want is to buy our children loads of presents for Christmas for the simple purpose of consumption. It’s actually really difficult for me to not buy them “big” gifts, but they are only 4 and 1 so actually have no preconceived ideas of what Christmas presents “should” be.

Our 4 year old told me Santa will bring her a yoyo, preferably with pink on it. So she will receive a yoyo and both girls will receive a beautiful French outfit. The 1 year old will receive a backpack (to be like her sister). I’ve also got some play dough and UNO cards for them to share.

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I  have with me a couple of dust bags from the designer Yannika, I use them for organising our suitcases, these will be the stockings this year. The stocking will have their presents in them and then will be rounded out by a few chocolate coins and a pomegranate. Years ago I read an article that said French children always receive pomegranates in the toes of their stockings. So far no French people have confirmed this tradition for me, but i’m going to pretend it is one anyway.

My husband and I are not going to give each other anything, but instead use the money to go on an extra trip somewhere. We are going to wrap up lots of our non refrigerator Christmas food for under the tree so that the girls learn to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to eat such yummy food.

 

Packing For Paris In August

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When they say that Paris is deserted in August and that most of the shops are shut, it’s true! We spent a wonderful week here in August. Although I was a little disappointed that some of the shops I wanted to go to were shut, the truth is when travelling with kids generally you have to let go of any plans and go with the flow. We stayed in the 10th Arrondissement in an adorable little apartment we found on Airbnb. And the lack of people in Paris was actually really enjoyable.

My husband met us in Paris. He had had to fly back to Australia for work, so i was travelling by train with the two girls. After my Bordeaux experience I decided to take our larger suitcase and pack some more just in case things. This time I did actually packed better.  I only added one dress knowing I would be walking a lot with the baby in the Ergo. I also made sure I packed a couple of pairs of jeans, which I ended up wearing a lot of the time. It ended up being perfect and I think there was only a couple of items of clothing that I didn’t wear.

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Did I curse using the bigger suitcase, many times, especially the moment in Lyon when I got on the wrong car of the train and amongst a packed train had to change cars with toddler, baby in Ergo, stroller and giant suitcase. However many of the other passengers on the train were really nice and helped me. And my eldest daughter was so good when we were in transit, she never let go of the suitcase whilst we walked between trains and taxis.

One mistake I did make was packing two pairs of sandals. Because the streets were so dirty I only wanted to wear closed in shoes everyday, so I ended up wearing my converse everyday. The same with my eldest daughter, bringing sandals for her was completely unnecessary.

It’s difficult to pack minimally with a baby and a preschooler. They might not get anything dirty for days, and then in one afternoon go through three or four outfits. It really helped that there was a washing machine in our airbnb apartment and I ended up doing one load of washing.

Bordeaux

We spent a week here in August. If you read my previous post you will know the first few days were absolutely freezing, but thankfully we managed to have a few glorious days of swimming

We were staying just outside of Bordeaux near a huge lake. As an Australian I’ve never really experienced lakes before, and this beautiful body of water made me wish I had a few more days of sunshine. I love how the French really enjoy their holiday time. People would come to the lake, set up and then spend the entire day there. I also love that there was elegant cafe looking over the lake. I loved swimming for a couple of hours and then going to drink coffee and eat icecream. Even when it was pouring with rain it was nice to sit and watch the view.
Some interesting things I noticed, we were the only ones on the beach before midday and the only ones with kids in hats and rashies. But in France, unlike Australia, it only really heats up at 2pm, instead of midday. So my Australian instincts were to rush out the door in the morning so we could leave by 10am, but sometimes it was still too cold to swim by ten even if the temperatures reached 30 degrees during the day.
I didn’t get to properly look around the city of Bordeaux because both times I tried my eldest daughter wasn’t feeling well. Traveling with kids generally means that sometimes you just have to let go of any plans. I hope to return one day and see it for all its beauty.