How to find summer camps in France
As you might have read, our family spent the summer in Annecy, France. The girls attended 4 different summer camps and we were so impressed with the quality of the instructors and facilities. Here's how to research and register...
If your kids speak French and you can provide a temporary local address, you should be able to register them into a local summer camp (read: French kids, French instructors, French language). Here are some tips:
- Key search terms: stage été or stage vacances + activity + location. For example, to find tennis camps in Annecy, I googled stage été tennis Annecy.
- For older kids (teens), try these search terms: MJC (Maison des Jeauness et Culture), Centre Culturel or Club Sportif + the location.
- Languages: Some websites have an “English” button. Do NOT rely on this. Most of the time the English portion of the website only contains a fraction of the information found on the French portion of the website.
- Google Chrome: In a pinch, use Chrome to translate the web page. The translation is FAR from perfect, but it can help if you are stuck. NOTE: Chrome translates stage to internship.
- Bureaucracy: dossiers, fiches, formulairs… This is where it gets fun! Find the forms, print them, fill them out, scan them and send them back. This step will take you approximately forever. And you must do this in French.
- Payment: You will likely not be able to pay online. Ask respectfully (in French) if you can pay when you arrive. This has worked for me in all but one case. For one camp, I had to organize a bank-to-bank wire transfer.
- Finally, you may need to figure out how to pay the balance in cash (en espèces) when you arrive.
Two other types of camps to mention:
- Les Colonies de Vacances: Generally, sleep-away camp. In French for French kids (or any kids who speak French?). These two portals do a good job of organizing the options:123Sejours and Salute les Kids.
- Camps geared toward foreigners: These are generally more expensive and geared toward older kids. These camps can also be easier to find online as their websites are usually in English. Also, some private international schools also offer summer programs.