Au Pair in Montpellier

Hello friends, family, and random individuals reading this from around the world! I wanted to describe my first few days here in Montpellier, France even though now I’m just over 2 weeks in. This is an incredible time in my life and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be an Au Pair alongside being an English teaching assistant here for the year. This first post I’ll take you through the Au Pair side of things and how I’ve been settling in…

The moment since I have returned to France I’ve completely been taken under the wing of the sweetest French family in Montpellier! I should call myself very lucky to have found them because I fit right into their daily life and they remind me a lot of my family when I was growing up. The parents are very involved in the kids lives and center their lives around them. They live walking distance from the heart of Montpellier’s centre ville, or city center, and have three absolutely adorable children: Clementine age 12 and in middle school, Alice who’s 10, and the little boy Thomas who’s 6. They are respectful, kind, and such a joy to be around and get to know! The parents are equally as wonderful and charming and have welcomed me into the family avec plaisir, or with pleasure.

DAY 1 – THURSDAY OCTOBER 2OTH

Since I’ve arrived, it’s truly been an absolute blur! My host dad picked me up at the airport and gave me a brief tour of the house and then had to head back to work. So my very first day here I was so eager to see the main part of the city that I got right on the tram to walk around and see things. I met up with a friend in the teaching program I’m in, TAPIF, in the afternoon since I wanted some company and together we saw the famous Arc de Triomphe (Montpellier has one too!) and the Place de Peyrou which is a large dome that has views of the old acqueduct and surrounding villages. We stopped by my favorite old stomping grounds aka Monoprix and C’est Deux Euros!, or the 2 Euro store which was a blast from the past. When I came home from exploring I finally met the rest of the family! The mom prepared a little apéro (the epitome of the French) outside on the terrace with some chips/snacks and beverage options. I had brought gifts from the U.S. for the children and was in awe of how a few simple gifts could bring so much happiness and wonderment to them. They loved it all from the American candy to the Chicago souvenir items! That night I was left alone with the children because the parents had a soirée, or party, with relatives that had been planned two months prior, so they had to go! It was basically jumping right into things on the get go which turned out to be a good opportunity to get to know the kids. Alice showed me all the presents she got for her birthday that she had just gotten a few days prior and I also read her and Thomas a bedtime story, in French! I was focusing so hard on the pronunciation that I didn’t even know what I was reading and Alice helped me a few times with the words I didn’t know how to say correctly. It was a surreal first day, but returning to France seemed normal and comfortable to me. I had finally made it back!

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Place Comédie in centre ville- the hub of it all

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California –> Montpellier; not a difficult transition feat. palm trees, blue skies, and warm weather

DAY 2 – FRIDAY OCTOBER 21ST

My second day here in the delightful Montpellier, I met up with another friend from TAPIF and we walked around the city center more. I quickly realized Montpellier is fairly big and all the narrow alleyways look the same so it’s easy to get lost. The buildings are all very French-esque and the amount of restaurants, cafes, stores, bars and shops here is enormous. The kids end school here at 5pm and I went to Alice and Thomas’ school to pick them up. Practically the moment I arrived, I was introduced to Alice’s friends and soon enough was surrounded by 5 pre-teen French girls and was having conversation with them in French! It was such a fun moment and they all were very intrigued by me. It’s something I will never forget! After getting back home, the kids and I did an art project together and hung around. It’s been so interesting interacting with the kids since they don’t know any English and I’ve learned a lot in the process. We communicate with my limited French and laugh a lot. That night I had planned to go out with some people but instead stayed at the house for one of their relative’s birthday party’s! I had no idea it was even happening so it was an unexpected surprise. It was indeed a very French, fun-filled evening that I wouldn’t dared to have missed. I met the dad’s mom, aunt, and sister who were accompanied by her husband and 4 daughters. Lots of finger food, apéritif style, was set out on the table outsie, from dips & tapenades to quiches, and we enjoyed wine and talking to one another followed by a main course meal of kebabs. I spoke a ton of French that night despite also being quite lost at points when the adults were speaking super fast. One of my favorite parts of the night however was watching the “spectacular” or dance show that all the girls put on after dinner. They had practiced the whole evening and it was so charming to watch. At the end they gave a welcome shoutout to me and one for the aunt’s birthday. I wish I got the whole thing on video, but the memory is engrained in my heart forever!

DAY 3 – SATURDAY OCTOBER 22ND

My third day I got to see how the family spends their weekends. On Saturday they mostly stay around the house to clean, do homework, and get various things done. And that morning I went on a run with the mom and got to see the park where there’s a good running path. We had a family lunch together (could not have been more French to have a formal midday meal) which was delicious and then after went to a big shopping mall to get some clothes for Clementine. It was packed with people that day and we stopped at familiar stores: Zara, H&M and Sephora. Afterwards, we stopped at the grocery and then prepared for a 7pm apéritif with their neighbors at the house. A French apéritif is quite unique and consists of mini dishes all spread out on a table including wine and is a fun ritual to converse and catch up with good friends. Their neighbors were extremely nice and I enjoyed their company a lot. The mom is German and the dad French and they have two kids the same ages as Thomas and Clementine. While the kids all played together, we sat around the table on the outside terrace and talked in mostly French. It felt very grown up indeed and I learned a lot, laughed, and enjoyed the evening to the fullest. That night, I had once again potentially planned to go out with friends, but was once again welcomed in on their family affairs and thought it an additional opportunity I wouldn’t want to pass up on.

DAY 4 – SUNDAY OCTOBER 23RD

Lastly, on Sunday I had the most jam-packed day ever! It felt so so unending which is good because I did a lot! I spent the entire day with the family again and have felt so included. In the morning the mom, Alice, Thomas, and I went to the famous Musée Fabre in the city center of Montpellier to see the Picasso exhibit that was ending that day. It was a good size exhibition which displayed a vast array of his works. It was cool to watch the mom attempt to intrigue the children about the artwork and I give her a lot of credit for trying to explain things to them and include them like adults. Afterwards, we had a quick bite to eat at home (mind you still homemade and healthy) and then headed à la plage, or to the beach! It was the most beautiful, sunny, and hot day so the beach was filled to the max with sun-seeking beach goers. The water was the perfect tempurature and I was pleased to find a grand array of coquillages, or seashells, that were gorgeous in color and large in size. I had never collected such beautiful shells before! To end the night, we quite appropriately ate mussels and fries at home and afterwards I talked with the parents outside on the terrace for about an hour about the new week ahead… here goes the next seven months!

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Alice and Thomas outside of the Musée Fabre

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First encounter at the beach (Mediterranean Sea mind you!) Carnon Plage on the last day of summer

Voilà! If you made it to the end, thanks for reading about the début, or the beginning, of my life in Montpellier as an Au Pair! I normally don’t like to write my blog posts in a boring day-by-day format, but it really shows in this instance all the insightful details of how this journey is forming. If anything I hope it gives you a taste of my experience in raw form. My French is improving already and I can’t wait to fill you all in on more details about what’s happened since these first few days. However, up next (hopefully soon), I will write about the other side of things, being an English teaching assistant with the program TAPIF! (Teaching Assistant Program in France!) À plus tard, or see you later! 🙂

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4 Comments

  1. Evelyn
    April 28, 2019 / 12:08 am

    Hey Mikaela! I just found your blog though a quick google search because I want to become an au pair in Montpellier too! Your content is great and it’s interesting to read about your journey being in France! How did you go about finding a family to au pair for? Was a last minutie decision or did you have a plan to go to Montpellier? I am a bit nervous I won’t find a family or there aren’t many families looking for au pairs in Montpellier! Thank you for your blog posts as they are so interesting!

    • msbutterflyblessings
      Author
      July 9, 2019 / 5:04 am

      Hello Evelyn! Thanks for your response, and sorry for my delayed reply! I’m so glad you enjoyed and got use out of my posts. I’m happy to help answer your questions. First of all, it’s so wonderful you are interested in becoming an au pair! I highly recommend the experience, and will hopefully get to posting more about that soon! I searched for families on aupairworld.com and aupair.com, and found the family I picked on the former. I found 3 families I loved and it was a hard decision but I’m happy I chose the one I did. At the time, I was specifically looking for a family in Montpellier because I was accepted into the TAPIF or Teaching Assistant Program in France and got placed there to teach. At first I thought it would be difficult but there were a lot of families to choose from in the area if you’re resourceful. If you are still looking, I can recommend you a family if you’d like or help you out in the process. 🙂 Thanks again for reading and please let me know if I can help you out in any other way!

  2. Natasha Belsky
    September 17, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    Hi Mikaela, I am also interested in being an au pair in Montpellier, as I am going to be a Teaching Assistant (TAPIF) there this year. I am having trouble finding families and I would love to know more about how you did it!

    • msbutterflyblessings
      Author
      August 26, 2020 / 1:10 am

      Hi Natasha, I apologize for the extremely delayed reply. I hope your TAPIF experience was amazing and that you ended up finding a family too. Just to mention, I used aupairworld.com and aupair.com; the latter is where I ended up finding my family but both are good, trustworthy sites. You can filter your results by location (which is good for TAPIF since your location is chosen for you), how many children you are comfortable caring for, type of city/town, ect. If you’re doing TAPIF for the second year 2020-2021, I can still recommend you a family since I have a few connections. Just reach out! Thanks again for your response and for checking out my blog!

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