Can you drink the water? And other questions for families travelling to France…
Are you taking your baby away for the first time?
Here are some questions we are frequently asked at Tots to Travel.
Q. What do we do about water for bottle feeding in France – is it safe to use the tap water?
A. We often get asked about the best way to make up baby bottles in France. Tap or bottled? Mums in France generally use tap water, boiled and cooled. However to be extra sure use low mineral bottled water. When you are in the supermarket, look for bottled “eau de source” and they will either have a baby’s bottle illustration on the side or say “convient pour la préparation des aliments des nourrissons” on the label. This water is perfectly safe to use to make up baby bottles.
Q. Is it frowned upon to breast feed in public in France?
A. Tots mum in the South of France answers: I’ve had two babies in France and have never had a problem. I think it’s much more widely accepted here that “everybody has to eat” and eating, let’s face it, is important in France. You won’t however, find any “nursing rooms” in shops or restaurants here. Maybe in some of the more modern motorway service stations yes.
Q. Is it really easy to eat out with babies and children in France?
A. Yes, children have to eat too! Most restaurants have highchairs and / or boosters. If not, ever keen to please, we’ve been offered a pile of telephone directories as a booster before for my 3yo – she loved it! I haven’t yet seen a child being offered that “sip of wine” or wine watered down, in 16 years here though! Most child menus offer burgers or chicken with chips or pasta and the like but most restaurants will do a mini-adult meal if you ask. If not, ask for a starter for your child, as plates of charcuterie are usually wolfed down.
Q. Is the medical care in France up to scratch if we need to visit a doctor?
A. French has been voted no. 1 for their health system in the world by the World Health Organisation. The GPs will still do house calls if needed (approx Euro60 ) and there is a dedicated number to find out of hours doctors and chemists in the area you are staying. A normal appointment to visit the doctor is still fairly easy to get and will cost Euro25 for a baby (less for older children and adults) and will be refunded on your EHIC card or insurance. You pay for the prescription at cost at the chemist and again refundable on your EHIC card. Apply for your EHIC card (the equivalent of the old e1-11 form) via the NHS. It is free so if you find yourself being asked to pay for one you are in the wrong place. Here’s a link to the NHS information and application pages – http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
Q. What makes of baby milk are there?
A. Supermarkets in France are really well stocked for babies and have a full range of baby products, food, snacks, nappies, wipes, toiletries equipment, clothing – everything you would expect to find in the UK.
However, they don’t generally stock the same brands of formula milk. You are more likely to find Enfamil, Nestle Nidal or Bledilait than Cow & Gate or SMA. You may find find Hipp which is stocked in some supermarkets chains and Aptimil is called Milupa in France. Some people say it tastes slightly different although I know of lots of people who’s babies have been perfectly happy with it.
If you are concerned about your baby not taking to a different brand for the week you are away then do pack up a box of your usual brand. We’d suggest not packing nappies (other than enough to keep you going on the journey) and buy these when you arrive as there are all the usual brands available and packing nappies takes up a lot of space.
Don’t be afraid to email your holiday property owner before you go to ask about brands in the local supermarket, some offer a shopping service so you don’t have to worry!
Note also that baby milk is often purchased from chemists in France, not just supermarkets.
Why not discover our family holidays in france.