Friday, July 20, 2012

Day Camp-French Style - Centre de Loisirs - Pessac - Romainville

Summer Day Camp

Pessac - Centre de Loisirs de Romainville

So this week has been a bit busy as we got ready for my brother and his family to arrive.  We timed their visit to coincide with the return of my 2 older daughters who are away at sailing camp for the week and return tomorrow evening.  My youngest at 4 years old wanted to know what camp she would be going knowing she would need some peer entertainment while her sisters were away - I looked to our town to see what day camp options were available.

I have to say excited to find that they offered a day camp - Available for all children ages 4-11.  The town has a couple of different sites available but we chose the one closest to our home.

The camp runs 8:30 am to 5 pm but also has an extended day option until 6:30 pm for extra cost.  This like day camps in the States is a working parents solution to childcare in the summer.  We use to use our local town park day camp for our older girls back in Saratoga  - in many ways this was similar but there were some striking differences.

First included in the cost of the camp was transportation from centralized stops if you wished to use the bus.  We only live a 12 minute drive from the camp and the closest centralized stop was halfway to camp so we opted not to use the bus - but it's a nice feature.

Second, lunch is included as part of the program.  Yes, it's a bit like school lunch - but here in France, school lunches are better than I have found in the States.  They use a mix of certified organic food and farm fresh local produce as a part of their program.  I have to say that even though my kids don't like every meal they are offered - they find the food better here than it was at home.  (As my oldest daughter said was either greasy, breaded or both in the States).  Anyway, each day when I walked my daughter into her camp building, we could see what was being served for lunch that day.

The ratio of kids to adults was super - my daughter's age group of 4/5 year olds were divided into 4 groups - each group had about 15 kids in it and they had one main adult leader and 2 younger helpers.  It broke down to a 5 to 1 ratio.  Not bad!

Similar to other day camps, their day was broken down into morning activities, lunch, afternoon activities and then wind down for the day.  Activities varied from riding bikes (tricycles & 2 wheelers - provided by the camp), taking a nature walk through the woods, playing games, art & crafts and even swimming/cooling off in the wading pool.  Once a week they even do a field trip - this week they took the kids to the Pessac Zoo. Again, all of these activities are included in the daily cost.

I was also impressed as I watched an older group of 10/11 year olds get ready to go off on a day trip - they all had day packs and were loading onto a bus - with a truck that was following them full of bikes!  All the bikes were provided by the park/town.  I think I'm just impressed with all the little details that this town thinks about.  An aside here, my oldest daughter spent a week during school at this site learning bike riding safety when riding out on the roads or in a city.  Again, all she had to do was to go there with her class - the town provided the bikes and helmets!

Anyway, I have to say my youngest daughter loved her week at camp!  She came home tired but happy each day.  She made new friends and was anxious to go back each day.  The other thing I love about this camp is beginning next week - she can go on a day by day basis and we only have to pay for the day she is there.

The system is interesting here - for the first 3 weeks of July - as many parents are still working - you must register and reserve for a full week.  You are charged for the full week.  After July 20 up until the week before school begins - you pay only day by day...It's a nice system - I don't feel like I'm paying for something that I'm not using as our experience in the States was often a 2 week block or summer block that you needed to pay for.  This is nice and flexible.

Finally, I'm finding children's activities here in France to be much less expensive than in New York state.  Just to do a brief comparison - In Saratoga we used our local town park camp - but it was a full 6 week program that you were required to pay for - It was extremely reasonable as far as camp prices go - but 6 weeks of camp plus swimming ran $550 for the session - if you added the other field trip was $650 or roughly $92 to $108/week.  Other camps ran between $200-250/week for day camps.  Even the YMCA which you had to be a member  - camp was $160-$220/week.    All camps you also had to provide lunch.

So here - the cost is on a sliding scale based on each family's financial situation.  Some families pay as little as 4 euros/day up to 10.50 euros per day.  (Based on the current exchange rate - that $5 to $13 a day or $25 to $65-week).  A real deal in my book!

Our town is not the only town that offers day camps - many other towns do too and the costs are somewhat similar - I just wanted to share this special place - and I'm so happy that my youngest had a wonderful week.  Now we wait for her older sisters to return home from Sailing camp...I'm sure there will be many stories to share.  Happy weekend!

Walking back out to the car after dropping my daughter off..

The Pre-school or Maternelle building and wading pool.

This was the Welcome area for the 6-10 year olds...Each age group has announcements and updates for the parents as you drop off.

All the bike paths - to help teach kids rules of bike riding..both on paths and streets..

Basketball court, building where they store all the bikes, and do you see the zip line behind?  Fun!


  1. Hello,
    We live in Canada, and are thinking of going to France in the summer of 2014 for 4-6 weeks. Our daughter is in French Immersion, and we want to really immerse her in French by spending a month or so in France. We were inspired by your blog to a) try to spend 3-4 weeks in Bordeaux as a "base" and b)try to put our daughter (who will be 6) in French summer camp while we're in France.
    Do you have any advice on either a) places to stay in Bordeaux - especially longish term economical home/apartment rentals, and any advice on websites to look at camp options like the one above that your daughter went to.
    Thanks for any help you can give us. We have no idea where to start our research.
    Shana, Dave and Maya

  2. Hi Jennifer
    Great post! :) What is the name of this camp and does it run all summer?

    Thank you

    1. This camp is part of our town's summer program and does run all summer. Email me (on the about Me page) if you have more questions.


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