Baby Power


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Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007 Park in Boulogne-Billancourt

Today, during a visit with a friend in Boulogne-Billancourt (another neighboring town of Paris), a friend who’s expecting her first child, we learned that last year (2006) was a banner year for babies in France. France boasted the highest birthrate for Europe that year – and judging by all the kids we saw in the parks today in Billancourt, maybe they will win that rating for 2007 as well.

You may already know that France is a wonderful country for working women who want to have children. The average maternity leave is 16 weeks – that’s 16 PAID weeks – normally 6 weeks before delivery and 10 weeks afterwards, but you can choose your maternity leave dates as you like. Maternity leave doesn’t negate your normal paid vacation time which is 5 weeks.

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Talking about ‘family values’ (which is an expression I’m not even sure exists in France because the concept is about as basic as breathing) children are the true royalty here.

There’s probably nothing more important in the entire world than those first three to five years of life. Give a child plenty of love and he or she can face whatever the future brings. Paid maternity leave makes sense for the entire society.
(Excuse this tangent from Paris ‘the city’- but you’ll soon discover if you spend time in France that family life is such an integral part of ‘being French’ that it is almost impossible to talk about Paris or France – without eventually getting to the core of France – which is the family and the ‘terroir’ (or the land).