Memories of the relaxing, carefree days of summer are fading fast, and the rigorous routine of school and work are about to kick in. “C’est la rentrée”! But, stay zen — INSPIRELLE’s prepared this handy back-to-school survival guide to help make the “rentrée” season as stress-free as possible for you and your family!
From extracurricular activities to babysitters and tutoring services, the best places to get basic school supplies or trend-setting kids clothes — and even a place to get rid of nasty lice — we’ve got all the essentials covered! So, open up our guide below, because you’ve got this!
New to Paris? Didn’t have time to book your kids’ extracurricular activities before rushing off for summer holidays? Many of the seasonal club and association-based activities may already be complèt (fully booked), but we’ve got you covered!
There are still plenty of options for your budding Monet or Serena Williams to hone their skills and keep them busy when school’s out. From art classes to computer coding, tennis, soccer, swimming, yoga, music, dance, and theater, you’ll find a plethora of choices. Keep in mind that sometimes spaces for seasonal courses also tend to open up after the October Toussaint holidays, so mark your calendars to double check come November!
- Planning ahead for the next school holidays? Check out our article on the “Best Camps and Workshops for Kids in Paris”
Whether you’re a working mom/dad or a full-time parent, there are times when you need a helping hand to relieve you of parenting duties for a while. Here are some tips for finding reliable childcare in Paris, whether it’s an occasional babysitter, a regular nanny (nounou) or an au pair:
Inquire at School
Some of the animateurs at your children’s school, who are often university students or young adults training to be teachers, can bring your kids home from school, supervise homework and occupy them until you get home. Obvious plus: you, your child and the school already know this person. Ask your school office who’s available.
There are also plenty of multilingual high school and university students at international schools looking to earn some spending money. Check out notice boards at schools like Lycée Honoré de Balzac, Sections Internationals de Sèvres, International School of Paris, American School of Paris, the Sorbonne and the American University of Paris.
Tap into Anglophone Networks
You can find or place announcements on notice boards at the American Library or the American Church. Anglophone directories such as FUSAC and AngloInfo.com also accept classified postings from job seekers and employers.
Community resources: Message, an Anglophone parents’ support group, has a very active online discussion forum, and AAWE, the Association of American Women Living in Europe, has an active community on Facebook (both for paying members only).
Call Professional Agencies
A more expensive, but also reliable, option is to go through a specialized agency. The benefits of hiring through an agency are that they pre-screen the candidates for you and they take care of all the French administrative paperwork (work contracts, social charge declarations).
Looking for an English-speaking babysitter?
Need to boost their French?
How about other foreign languages?
If you want childcare in Arab, Chinese, Russian, or another language, Mômji can put you in touch with bilingual or native speaking childcare providers who can take care of your kids while reinforcing their native language or teach them a new one.
★ INSPIRELLE TIP: When hiring domestic help, whether it’s a nanny, housekeeper or a tutor, you can declare and pay them through CESU so you can get up to 50% of the fees reimbursed in the form of a tax deduction. The amount depends on your household income, the number, and age of your kids.
Birthday parties, school meetings, dental appointments … school kids often have a busier schedule than us parents. And if you have more than one, it can be stressful to stay on top of who’s supposed to be where and when. Whether you’re a tech-savvy mom using mobile apps or you’re old school and prefer to put pen to paper, choose your weapon and mark down all the school holidays, school meetings, doctor appointments and activities as soon as you have the dates.
Younger kids might like to help decorate their own weekly calendar which you stick on the wall so they can see what playdates and activities they have to look forward to.
Apps like Apple’s built-in iCal, Google Calendar and Cozi are powerful, free tools which allow you to color code calendars for each member of the family, share them with each other and set reminders. Cozi even has links to recipes with ingredients that you can add to a grocery shopping list.
★ INSPIRELLE TIP: With your new organizer in hand, why not start jotting down all the public and school holidays for the year? You’ll find this year’s French and European public holidays and school holidays HERE.
Declutter with Pros
Overwhelmed by stuff at home, or at work, but can’t bear to part with anything? Sometimes we need someone else to help us ruthlessly clear out the clutter that we’re too attached to and bring a more order to our living and working spaces. We know some English-speaking professionals in the Paris area who can help! Like you, they each have their own style and personality, so we recommend speaking with them about your needs to find out which one suits you best!
Joy Every Day
Laetitia Ronsin will help you sort, declutter, and better organize your home or home office, with long-lasting solutions to be more efficient and relaxed.
Tel: +33(0) 6 62 33 65 05
Professional Organizers – Robynne Pendaries
Robynne can help you organize everything from your billing to clothes shopping and errands to get more done in less time. She’ll even suggest and coordinate pick-up/drop-off of items to be donated or discarded!
Tel: +33(0)1 46 40 16 69 or +33(0) 6 09 84 43 58
★ INSPIRELLE TIP: As with babysitters, housekeeping, tutoring, or any other family-related domestic services provided by professionals, you can get a tax deduction (up to a certain amount, depending on the services and your income) on payments made under “services à la personne”.
Donate or Resell Stuff
Find yourself with piles of textbooks from years ago, or bags full of clothes and rain boots you can’t bear to throw away? Why not find a new home for them?
Give used things a new life
Why not donate gently used clothes, books and toys to make room for the new? Here are some suggested places where you can drop off your donations:
Auteuil Bonnes Affaires, which is linked to Apprentis d’Auteuil, accepts and resells a range of second-hand items including clothing, books (not school texts), accessories.
40 rue Jean de la Fontaine (16th arrondissement). Tel: +33 (0)1 44 14 75 75
Emmaus, an international charitable organization with second-hand shops around Paris accepts donations of gently used clothes, furniture and homewares to resell. SEE WEBSITE for locations. Tel: +33 (0)1 41 58 25 00
Sell your stuff
It’s a bit more work, but if you have clothing, books, baby equipment, or bikes in good condition and you want to make some money back, here are some places online for you:
Leboncoin.com allows you to post free listings for items you want to sell or giveaway (in French only)
Message has a very active members-only forum where you can buy and sell or “freecycle” (ie donate) within their secure website.
Vinted is a popular online marketplace to sell clothing and home accessories in good condition.
Facebook Groups — Facebook Marketplace and a variety of closed groups allow members to buy and sell used items (you need to be accepted into the group and your posts may need to be approved by their admins). Some to check out: ESM Buy/Sell/Swap/Giveaway Group and Sell, swap and giveaway baby/kids items in Paris (FRANCE) and suburbs.
By now, you may have lost a few hairs trying to decipher the long list of “fournitures scolaires” (school supplies) required at school. You may have your “cahiers” and “rapporteurs” sorted by now. But just in case, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’ve missed something, or when it’s time to top-up your stock of dried up markers, beaten-up backpacks, and missing-in-action lunchboxes …
Shopping for School Supplies
You can spend endless hours running around town and scouring websites looking for the best deals, but if your time is more precious than saving some euros, most schools have a deal with a stationery store/book shop nearby. For example, Lamartine (16th & 17th arrondissement), and Ars Una (17th arrondissement) serve many schools in their areas. Just drop off your supplies list and they’ll pack up everything for you to pick up when ready.
The BHV department store on Rue de Rivoli is one of our favorite one-stop-shops which carries a wide range of school, office and art supplies. Artists in the house can also head to Rougier&Plé (15ème) which specializes in arts and crafts supplies.
Office Depot also allows you to drop off your list (or upload it via their website and order online) and they’ll take care of everything for you!
If you prefer to shop at your desk, check out ma-rentree-scolaire.fr, rentreediscount.com , marentreetresclasse.fr, and marentreemajuscule.com, which specialize in school supplies. Some of them have supply lists from specific schools, so you just choose the class of your child and tick off everything you need!
Monoprix, Carrefour, and many of the major supermarkets have discounts before la rentrée, so while you’re picking up groceries, stock up on items like cahiers, pencils, erasers and glue sticks, which run out quickly.
Labels for Everything
Tired of your kids losing their shoes in gym class, but not in the mood to write names in permanent marker on all of their supplies? Most primary schools will require you to label every marker and shoe. Don’t forget you have to label sports equipment and gear for school trips too!
Stuck on You produces fun and easy-to-apply name labels (etiquettes) and personalized accessories for the whole family. We recommend ordering the waterproof labels in different sizes — small enough for pencils and large enough for water bottles and school folders — as well as iron-on labels for clothing, and even sweat-proof shoe stickers!
Les devoirs (homework) can often be a source of stress for not only children but also for parents. If your kids are in a French system school and you don’t speak French at home, it can be even tougher. Even if language is not an issue, homework battles can be. Establishing a good routine is the first step to minimizing homework-related stress.
Tips for managing homework time
- Schedule a regular time for homework and stick to it.
- Set up a homework station, whether it’s at the dining table or at your child’s own desk, where you keep an extra set of school supplies and a clock in sight.
- Award good behavior. We love RewardCharts4kids.com and EmpoweringParents.com for their varieties of free, downloadable behavior charts to help motivate your kids to achieve certain goals, whether it’s for homework, chores or potty training.
Let’s face it. No matter what rules you set, sometimes parents are not the best homework supervisors. Whether it’s your schedule or the dynamic between you and your kids that prevents you from supervising homework, getting someone else to step in can be a lifesaver. Now, where can you find a tutor or just someone to supervise homework time?
As with childcare, we often ask friends or relatives for personal recommendations and scan the notice boards at school (some teachers and animateurs offer private tutoring after school, so check with the school secretary).
Another alternative is to go through agencies like Cours Legendre, Acadomia, and Complétude who provide soutien scolaire (tutoring). They screen their tutors and have a reporting system so you can provide feedback or swap for a new one if you or your child aren’t thrilled with the one you have been assigned. All currently offer classes in person or online.
Acadomia can also recruit assistants parentaux (parents’ aides) or arrange for a “garde d’enfants recreation”, where qualified adults can pick up your kids from school, supervise homework, and lead them in “intelligent play” or teach them a new language. During school breaks, all the agencies also offer “stages de revisions”, group workshops to review specific subjects in their centers, or they can organize a private tutor at home for your kid(s).
This is Paris, the fashion capital of the world, after all, and even kids are known to look stylish from head to toe. Here’s a selection of bonnes addresses to keep your kids well-coiffed and well-dressed for school.
Hairdressers for Kids
Most local coiffeurs offer a discount for student and children’s haircuts. But if your kids need more incentive to sit still long enough to trim their locks, try taking them to one of these child-friendly salons.
Your kids will love this colorful and laid-back salon, which has rocking horse chairs for the little ones, TV screens in front of each seat and a play area with books and video games. They have 2 salons in Paris, and at their Square Montholon salon you can also pick up clothing and accessories for kids up to 12 while you’re waiting. Cuts from 18€ and up (Moms and dads can get their hair done too!)
Square Montholon: 4 rue Papillon 75009 Paris. Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 46 76 81
Parc Monceau: 10 Bd de Courcelles 75017 Paris. Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 12 03 60
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This website lets you explore children’s salons near you. Read the opinions of other customers to find the one that best suits your needs and book directly through the site (with special discounts!) While you’re at it, why not book a spa treatment or mani-pedi for yourself? Coupe enfant from 12€ and up
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Bye Bye Nits
Before heading to the hairdresser for a new look, make sure your kids are lice free! Eew, you might be saying, but for school children, it’s par for the course — no matter how vigilant you are. Bye Bye Nits is the first center in Paris where you can take your kids to be “de-liced”, and where you can buy all the necessities to keep at home for the school year.
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WeCasa (hair and beauty chez vous)
No time to get to the salon? Need a last minute trim on a Sunday? Through WeCasa, you can book a hairdresser to come to your home 7 days a week between 7am and 10pm! They also offer beauty treatments, massages, housekeeping, babysitting and sports coaching in the comfort of your own home. Children’s cuts start at 15,90€
Clothing & Accessories
Whether your kids are dead set on sporting the latest trends or are required to wear uniforms, they’ve probably grown a size or two over the summer. So, you’ll probably have to add some new pieces to their wardrobe this fall.
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Budo Fight carries a wide selection of martial arts gear.
220 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris. Tel: +33(0)1 46 33 86 76
Au Vieux Campeur is a paradise for outdoor sports lovers. It’s the place to go for anything from high-quality ski wear, to camping gear, scuba diving ensembles, snowboards, kayaks, and practically any other specialized outdoor sports apparel and equipment. Multiple locations in Paris and around the country.
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It’s usually a good idea to have your children’s eyes checked before the school year gets underway, after all, there is nothing like not being able to see the blackboard! New prescription in hand, check out these two recommendations for a funky pair of glasses!
Lunettes Pour Tous — low cost, quality eyeglasses fitted right away. Their motto is 10 euros, 10 minutes! Multiple locations.
Opti Kid — a trusted specialist in stylish optical wear for even the youngest of children, with locations around the country.
★ INSPIRELLE TIP: Save time by checking their websites to see if they have what you want in stock before you head out to the store.
Shopping for Fashionistas
Have a fashionista or future style trendsetter on your hands? Check out some of these hip, multi-brand concept stores to keep your kids stylish from head to toe:
Bobo parents love this online children’s department store offering a chic and fashionable selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories for newborns and kids up to 14 years.
1 rue de la Pompe 75116 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 88 92 90
Centre Commercial Kids
More than just a store, Centre Commercial Kids sees itself as a movement. Mixing hip men’s, women’s and children’s fashion with a commitment to the environment and social, this cool concept store also hosts events and meetings.
22 rue Yves Toudic 75010 Paris. Tel:+33 (0)1 42 06 23 81
Finger in the Nose
Finger in the Nose reinterprets classics and infuses the basics of a young wardrobe with a bold attitude. You’ll find timeless pieces like tailored jeans, graphic tees, authentic jackets and more in their two trendy locations.
11 rue de l’Echaude 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)9 83 01 76 75
45 avenue de Trudaine Paris 75009. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 06 40 19
Citadium (for teenagers/young adults)
Hipsters from 15 to 25 will discover trendy urban streetwear, sneakers, and accessories amongst the 250+ emblematic and emerging brands offered at Citadium.
4 locations in Paris, plus Bordeaux and Toulon. Consult WEBSITE for addresses.
La Vallée Village
One of our favorite year-round destinations for designer digs for the whole family at discounted prices in more than 110 boutiques, just outside of Paris.
3 Cours de la Garonne, 77700 Serris, France. Check their website for how to get there.