Updated: Nov 19, 2018
When I first got here, my daughter was barely 7 weeks old. I was in a foreign country, I didn't speak the language and was completely unfamiliar with the system. It was my choice to keep her with me the first 13 months, however, at the same time it wasn't possible to put her into a nursery (Creche) even if I had wanted to.
Why? Well it's simple. There aren't enough places in the nurseries (creches) and the nannies (garde-enfants/nounous) are also in demand.
So if you are moving to the region with a little one and want him or her to go to a nursery, you need to contact the mayor's office (mairie) of whichever town that you will be residing in and get all the relevant information. Typically you will have to provide a lot of paperwork ,as with everything in France. Birth certificate, possibly marriage certificate or proof of guardianship,health insurance and most importantly proof of all relevant vaccinations. No vaccines means no entrance into their system.It is quite possible that you have to provide other documentation but my hubby tends to do all the bureaucratic stuff.
What you need to know:
Each town has a nursery or several depending on the size of the town/village.
Each town has a list of approved nannies that you can find at the mayor's office.
Each mayor's office has a website where you can find all the relevant information.
You need to put your child on the waiting list for the creche at least 1 year in advance. If you are pregnant go and sign up (s'inscrire). If your child has already been born,go as soon as you have settled in your new home.
It is difficult to get a spot during the year. Typically they have places the end of July or the beginning of December. This is because the older kids who are turning 3 or 2 and a half go to kindergarten (maternelle) in September or January.September and January are the 2 back to school periods (rentrees). As a result, with kids leaving the nursery there are openings for new kids.
Creches here are amazing. My daughter went to a micro-creche which is very small with very few kids and lots of care givers who are very loving and attentive.They are clean, well organised and the kids spend all day doing structured activities and are well fed with well balanced and bio food (At least in the case of my daughter's former nursery).
I have never had a nanny (nou nou) but I have heard good things and they typically have 3 kids at a time and no more.Nannies are trained as garde-enfants through the government training associations and have to meet the requirements of the governing government board.
The nurseries are open Mondays to Fridays and even during all school holidays. They are closed for public holidays and typically close for 2 to 3 weeks in July or August depending on the nursery. Some open from 7:30am and close at 6pm.
The nursery is not expensive when you compare it to child care in the UK or the USA. However, no matter what, everyone gets government assistance ,CAF, once they are tax payers which leads to a substanstial reduction in fees. When we first moved here as we were on an expat contract we paid just under 6 euros an hour but when the contract switched over to a local contract the rate dropped to about 1.52 euros an hour!
I remember being a new mother and being inundated with all this new information in French. I hope I helped subside any of your worries and have steered you in the right direction!
All the best !