Saturday, August 28, 2010

Desperately Seeking Au Pairs

There is an article in The Times today about the demand for English-speaking au pairs in France. For any 'A' level French students who missed their grades and didn't make it through clearing, it could provide a lucrative opportunity to spend a gap year sensibly.

English au pairs are the most sought after, followed by Irish and then the rest, but a grasp of standard English rather than Estuary is required. Can you imagine a posh family on the Left Bank welcoming a screeching, drinking, Estuary-English speaking girl into their ordered home? It would certainly do their offspring no good to pick up "I ain't got nuffin", "Wot you lookin' at then, eh?", "Ere, gissa a fag darlin'", "I fink I'm gonna puke" in the rarefied world of the elite their parents intend them to frequent when older.

As Estuary is now ubiquitous, with even the posh kids trying their hand at it to give an air of coolness, and irritating the hell out of their parents, no wonder there's a shortage of potential au pairs. That plus the apparent drop of French being taken at 'A' level.

This is a shame because they can pick up €250 per week in the most desperate and affluent homes. All it takes is a measly ability to speak some French, and a nice accent. They are so desperate, these French parents, they don't even care how efficient the au pair is. Language is all. I suppose they would draw the line at neglect however, not least because it would show in the lack of the child's ability to speak English...

Paris is the main city which attracts au pairs, but there are other equally desperate parents elsewhere in some rather lovely parts of France. And now is the time, with la Rentrée looming; you can feel the panic. So, ladies, if you've got a smattering of French, speak properly and have nothing to do for the next year before you reapply to university, why not give au pairing a go. Just contact ABC Families, and Bob's yer uncle.

Just think, you could end up on the Cote d'Azur, or in a château on the Loire. Fed, housed, light childcare, and pocket money. I'd do it!


  1. So ABC Families do the screening, then?

  2. Dunno, Fly. It says in the article:
    "ABC Families, a website for people seeking childcare".

    Well, just looked on their website and it says:
    "Our multi-lingual team make the difference, prior to publishing, all profiles are vetted by us."

    so I suppose that means yes. :)

  3. Just wondering how they would do it....but no real need to worry...the estuarine swine don't read 'The Times' or much else, and certainly wouldn't know what an au pair was...

  4. It always makes me laugh when I come across English exam candidates obviously from very well-to-do families that sent them abroad every year, and who are as a result extremely fluent - with broad south London accents, innit.

  5. Fly, true!

    PG - how funny!

  6. Locally, the town has an Irish you can imagine the result of the language exchanges...a fine brogue is well in evidence.

  7. ah so now I know how I nearly became an aupair for a well to do Lyonnaise family back in 1998... I always wondered how they could possibly want to employ me given I had absolutely no experience in childcare whatsover.
    It was well paid too, plus two months in the South of France in a luxury villa somewhere only having to look after the kids for a few days as they were with family.
    I didn't take the job though, I met my husband the same day I was offered it and chose my husband instead! But I've always wondered why they offered me the job...

  8. Piglet - have you never wondered what would have happened if you'd taken the job? Choices change lives, it's amazing.

  9. Eldest doesn't really do children, but I shall have to remember this idea for a possible gap year perhaps - fully financed without input from parents sounds good! She does a great chav but thankfully RP is spoken at home. She embarks on sixth form today and will be taking French.

  10. Sarah, my life is a wonderful example of how choices influence our paths in the most extraordinary way. I often ask myself what if, but never in a negative way, I am very fortunate for the moment anyway :)!

    I would have liked to see how the other half live in their mansions on the coast mind, could have been fun! Now I tell my Hubby he'll just have to work harder so that I can experience it still!

  11. hausfrau - I think it's a marvellous opportunity! Especially for the parents!!

    Piglet, I agree. If I hadn't chosen to go to my French penfriend's wedding I would never have met my (now ex-) husband.


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