Note: After writing this post I realized that my entire day revolves around food. And to that statement I have no defense; it’s completely true.

Today I want to give my readers a glimpse into my very glamorous life here in France. So, ready to find out what the life of an au pair is really like?

7:45 I wake up to the sounds of the family having breakfast and getting ready for school. I groggily roll back over because I stayed up too late reading.

French Breakfast

8:20 I drag myself out of bed to prendre le petit déj (have breakfast). I pop two slices of pain de campagne in the toaster while I swirl raspberry jam into creamy Fjord yogurt. When the toast is ready I slather it with tangy goat cheese.

9:00 Catherine, the lady I work for, comes back from dropping the girls off at school. Before she leaves again for work she asks me if I can make boeuf bourguignon for dinner and shows me the recipe. I nod and fake a smile. I can make boeuf bourguignon, right? Gulp.

On her way to work Catherine drops me off in town which is awesome because I don’t have to walk 30 minutes to get to the center. I head to bookstore and buy two French grammar books for my language school, for which I begrudgingly cough up 40 euros.

French market

9:50 Today, Tuesday, is one of the three days a week when the market is in the town plaza. I photograph the market and chat with the vendors – all of whom are more than happy to have their pictures taken, to my surprise.

Downside – most of the vendors call me madame and I begin considering preventative botox.

Farmers Market

11:30 I realize that I’m famished so I stop at a small café for an early lunch.

I order an espresso with cream (café creme) and it tastes watered down and bitter, as it usually does in France. I sigh and fantasize about journeying to the nearby coffee kingdom of Italy for some real espresso.

While their coffee is downright terrible, the French have mastered the art of salad creation. The shallot vinaigrette on the salade parisienne I order is perfection.

Upside – the waiter repeatedly calls me mademoiselle and I feel my youth flowering again. No botox today.

Bistro Lunch

12:00 I walk home listening to Mika on my ipod, excited to edit the photos I have just taken.

12:35 After a long walk home I run to my computer to begin some photo editing. And to check my Google Reader, of course.

1:00 Reading time. Orwell today.

3:00 I decide it’s time to get domestic, so I clean the kitchen and start preparing the boeuf bourguignon. Note – this is not Julia Child’s boeuf bourgignon. The ingredients are as follows – beef, tons of carrots, two onions, bay leaves and thyme. I don’t even have any wine to use!


You dirty, dirty carrots.

5:00 Zoe, the 12-year old girl I take care of, comes home from school and we rush to take the bus to her dance class.

6:00 I wander aimlessly around town for an hour and mosey over to the bakery to buy a treat for Catherine. Because I’m nice like that.

7:30 After we get home, I set the table in preparation for my favorite part of the day, dinner with the family.

8:00 I finish cooking the boeuf bourguignon, and cross my fingers that it works out. I manage to find a water bottle full of white wine so I throw some in and hope for the best.

8:30 Dinner is served. The boeuf bourguignon miraculously turns out, even though it’s the first time I’ve made it.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon
The boeuf is Zoe-approved. I can sleep soundly.


9:00 After the main course Olivier, the dad, brings out the cheese platter. There are the usual suspects like chèvre and camembert, but one cheese that truly stands out; a Saint-Felicien with black truffles on the inside. It turns out that truffles taste like a combination of mushrooms, the forest floor, crack and every savory flavor you’ve ever tasted times ten.


9:20 For dessert we have the little coffee-flavored religieuse pastry that I picked up for Catherine at the bakery today. Religieuese in France means nun, which is apparently because the pastry looks like a nun wearing a habit. I can’t really see that, but I try the nun and she tastes just like an eclair.

10:30 Bed-time. Before I go to sleep, I pray my culinary good luck will see me through another day.

Have you ever worked as an au pair? Would you want to?

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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