You’ve heard of them both, but do you really know the difference between the two? Au pairs and nannies might seem similar, which they are. However, there are some key differences between the two that must be taken into consideration before determining which one is the right fit for your needs as a family. 

There are eight crucial ways in which au pairs and nannies differ:

  • age range,
  • legal working hours,
  • the cultural exchange aspect,
  • salaries,
  • the option to enroll in a language course,
  • relationship with the family,
  • ability to obtain a visa or work permit, and
  • potential duties & responsibilities.
Au Pair vs. Nanny
Source: oksun 70 on Getty Images Pro, from Canva.

Au Pair vs. Nanny – Let’s dive a little deeper into the details…

1. Age:

In France, au pairs can range in age anywhere from 17-30 years old. By law, they cannot be any younger than that, neither can they be any older. However, there is no age maximum for nannies in France, although they do have to be older than 16.

2. Working hours:

Au pairs in France are only allowed to work up to 25-30 hours per week for their family. Nannies negotiate with the family their weekly hours, which are of course also regulated by labor laws, but not nearly as strictly as au pairs. Average contracts for nannies are 40-45 hours per week.

3. Cultural exchange aspect 🇫🇷:

An important part of any au pair program is the cultural exchange aspect. Au pairs must come from a different country and generally have a different nationality than at least one of the host parents. Although it isn’t uncommon to hire nannies from other cultures, it is by no means required.

4. Salary:

Au pairs are compensated with “pocket money” (usually 60-80 € per week) for their time, plus board and lodging. So they do not need to be paid the minimum wage. On the other hand, nannies must be paid a salary that at the very least is the minimum wage.

5. Language course:

Since the cultural exchange aspect is an important component of the au pair program, they must be given the opportunity to attend a French language course. This is not required for nannies, nor is it required of them to learn French.

6. Relationship with family:

Although both au pairs and nannies often become extended family members. Au pairs are quite literally viewed as temporary family members, meanwhile, nannies are viewed as employees.

7. Visa and work permit:

Unless an au pair is an EU national, an “au pair visa” is required (depending on the country of origin, it is often easier and cheaper to get it than a working visa) in order to live and work in France. Non-EU nannies need a working visa, which is usually more complicated to obtain, as the employer has to prove that no suitable applicant can be found in France. 

8. Duties and responsibilities:

Legally, the responsibilities of an au pair are only related to childcare and light housework. Whereas a nanny’s duties are agreed upon by them and their employer/family and include a larger scope of work. Also, it is important to note that an au pair cannot legally tend to children younger than 3 years old, while nannies can. 

Au Pair vs. Nanny
Source: studioroman on Canva.

We hope this helps to clear up any confusion one might inevitably have about the differences between nannies and au pairs.

We know how important it is to choose the right childcare provider – after all, these wonderful people become extended family! 

If you have any further questions or if you would like to discuss your family’s specific needs one-on-one to determine which childcare option is the best one for you, we would love to chat! Book your free consultation, and let us do the rest.

You may also read our A step-by-step explanation how to hire a nanny in France