How to Research Camps in France

There are countless summer camp options in France. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect summer experience for your kid. 

French language

Obviously, local summer camps in France are conducted in the French language.  If you child does not speak French at all, I recommend contacting international schools in the area. They often have summer camps geared towards foreigners and language learners.

Timeline

Most organizations will not post summer camp information until May or even June. However, you'll need to book your housing much earlier than that. Before booking a house, you can do some preliminary research by looking at what summer camps were offered in that area last year. Then get back online in May and start nailing down specific camps and dates.

Search Terms

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.

Googling in French

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.

Registration

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 of course you must do this in French.

Payment

You will likely not be able to pay online. Ask if you can pay when you arrive. This has worked for me in all but one case. For that one camp, I did a bank-to-bank wire transfer.

Unless you have a french bank account, you will likely need to pay the balance in cash (en espèces) when you arrive. 

Finally, have fun!

Don't be overly intimidated by this process. You can totally do this! Stay loose, stay flexible. And above all: Lead by example! If your kids watch you turn  into a total stress case about all this, they are going to stress out too. Summer camp is supposed to be fun, remember?