Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Safe and Secure French Field Trip

You know you live in France when....

Your kid's school plans a field trip and informs you two days before the trip.

Inform being the key word here, because the field trip flyer was short on information.

Dear Parents,

Madame Barnier's class will be going on an end-of-the-school-year boat trip on Thursday from 9:30 - 2:30. Please make sure your child brings a picnic lunch. For more information, please contact Madame Barnier at

Hmmm, a detail-poor note like that didn't make La Mom feel good about letting her Big Fry go on this trip. Then again, I couldn't keep him home and have him miss out on all the fun.

So I'm sure I was tagged Paranoid Mommy when I asked Madame Barnier:

-Where is the boat trip going to be? (The Seine? Bois de Boulogne lake?)
-How long will the kids be on the boat?
-What's the name of the boat excursion company?
-Are there life jackets on the boat?
-How will the kids get there? (Bus? Metro? RER commuter train?)
-Is lunch on the boat?

The life jacket question really threw her. The answer Madame Barnier gave me was, "But the boat is made for kids - it's safe and secure." Translation: no life jackets. OK, that would never fly in the U.S.

So the day of the field trip I was on pins & needles hoping Big Fry didn't somehow fall off the "safe & secure boat" without a lifejacket.

Oh, and it turns out Big Fry's class had their picnic under the Eiffel Tower. How charming is that? My only question is why Big Fry had to tell me that one instead of Madame Barnier's flyer?

Photo via Bateaux Parisien


Michelle said...

Yeah that would make me nervous too!

a H.I.T. said...

That would have driven me crazy.

Margarita said...

That's silly. It really is.

Under the Influence said...

Did you try volunteering to chaperone? If you were there, at least you could save your own child if the boat went down!

Elisa said...

They do the same thing in Switzerland. Short-notice and no info. Excuse me, I know you think children are adults in this country, but some info would still come in handy. Glad nothing happened on the "safe and secure" boat ;-)

Simply Mel said...

I love how non-chalant the French are about kids and safety! Maybe the U.S. is a bit too 'pent up'?

Ali said...

I wonder if Madame B was bombarded with questions over this or if you were the only parent wondering, "what the...?"

ModernMom said...

I'd be the Mom inviting myself along on the field trip!@ I think you did well with just a few questions!!

Paris Atelier said...

What a wonderful place for the fry's to learn! Lunch under the Eiffel Tower! *sigh* Can I get into Madame Barnier's class!?! I can swim ;) Kudos to you for asking the ?''s amazing how different our cultures are in the US and Europe, even in the little things. Great post!

carrieitly said...

@ Simply Mel: The US IS too 'pent up', it really is. Case in point -

However, that is just too little information. Shame on you Madame Barnier!

SPY said...

You'd think the "no life jackets" thing wouldn't fly in the US but I was recently put in that very situation with 28 5-7 year old Brownies (girl scouts.) I was one of 6 parent chaperones taking the kids on a SAIL boat and when I asked about life jackets I was told they were stored away but accessible in the event of an emergency. I had a momentary vision of the boat going down and 28 very calm young girls quietly lining up for a life jacket - and realized the boat guides must be on drugs. I spent the entire boat ride counting kids with one hand on the box with the flotation devices.


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