UltimateAuPair.com is a collaborative English-speaking blog for au pairs in Paris. The concept behind Ultimate Au Pair is the formation of a ‘mega-blog’, where independent au pair writers can blog about their adventures, allowing others to read first-hand accounts of real Parisian au pair life, from a variety of viewpoints, and all without having to scroll through endless pages on search engines. Each blogger at Ultimate Au Pair is a current or former au pair, meaning that writing styles vary, and this has formed a blog of two halves: informative ‘how to’ style posts and reflective posts on everyday life.
The blog began as a reaction to the large number of au pairs who unfortunately find themselves in less than ideal working conditions, unhappy with their choice of family, or generally confused about certain aspects of au pair life. Whilst there are numerous other ways for au pairs in Paris to seek advice, the answers to their questions seem to be spread out across various blogs, Facebook groups and agencies. By having a variety of information in one place, Ultimate Au Pair hopes to reduce the number of au pairs who find themselves in difficult situations, help people become a little more clued up on the norms of au pairing in Paris, give an insight into the life of an au pair and, if possible, create a new au pair network.
We interviewed Olivia Brett, the creator of UltimateAuPair.com
Hi Olivia, can you tell us in a few words who you are and why you decided to create the blog?
I am former au pair in Paris. My time in the city was highly enjoyable, slightly crazy and above all a brilliant experience, however things may have gone a little more smoothly had I found more varied information before setting off on my travels. Reflecting upon both my and other au pairs’ experiences changing families, I recently decided to set up this blog in the hope that it will help other au pairs to avoid making similar mistakes. Although I finished my time as an au pair a while ago, I am now making the most of my new skills by studying languages (including French) at university in England!
When, where and how did you first come across FUSAC?
A very friendly bartender in an Irish pub in the Latin Quarter recommended I look at FUSAC after I realised that it was not working out with my first host family. Although I eventually found a new family through another website, I fell in love with FUSAC. It is nice to have a simple Anglophone resource readily available! Like a little piece of home.
Do you have a funny story as an au pair to share?
When I first arrived in Paris, my host family demonstrated how everything worked in the house for me in simple French. The 9-year-old really picked up on this and, trying her best to help out, spent the first week showing me how to pull tissues out of tissue boxes and how to answer the phone…
What is the first piece of advice you would give to someone who arrives in Paris and wants to be an au pair?
To not get too stressed. Most people have already found their au pair family before arriving in Paris and everything is so new that adjusting can be really quite stressful, especially in a new language. It’s nice to try and go to a few events organised by the various au pair groups on Facebook, as that way you can meet others in the same position and socialise away from the family.
What is your best memory?
I was sat with the 4-year-old boy and the 7-year-old girl drawing and the little boys says “This picture is for all the family”
His sister: “But doesn’t Olivia get a drawing?”
Boy: “Well yeah of course, Olivia is part of the family.”
The most adorable part was that he stated it in such a matter-of-fact way, as though it was obvious!
Why did you choose to come to Paris?
I found my original au pair position through a family friend, who lived just outside the Paris transport zone 5. The town was so small that I ended up spending all my free time in Paris, making friends and exploring. That meant that, when I eventually changed families, I made sure to find one in the centre of Paris as I had really fallen in love with it.
Are you fluent in French? Was it difficult to communicate with families / children during your time as an aupair?
At first it was a little difficult, but I quickly realised that making mistakes is ok and I consider my self almost fluent now. I have heard stories of au pairs struggling to communicate with the children but luckily mine were quite patient and I picked up the language quickly as I already knew the basics.
What is the most satisfying thing about having the blog?
Probably the fact that it went so quickly from an idea in my head to a real blog online. I worked quickly to get everything up and running and then it was amazing for me that so many au pairs were interested, and could see the potential of Ultimate Au Pair. That has really helped things move along so fast.
How can people get involved with the blog?
Firstly, we are always looking for new writers, so any interested current or former au pair in Paris can get in touch via our website and start blogging with us. Secondly, by commenting and sharing any posts they find interesting. People may not realise it, but by showing articles to their friends they can really help us spread the word and also help some au pairs out of sticky situations.
What is your next project?
I am in the process of asking our bloggers to submit some suggestions of their favourite places in Paris, so that I can create a big collaborative list of amazing bars, restaurants, picnic spots and museums to discover. I am always being asked about the best places to go in Paris!