Don’t get me wrong. France has perfectly safe drinking water. That’s not why I bid you warning when visiting the magical city of Paris.
Truth is, from the day I first arrived here as a student almost nine years ago, I have been absolutely persuaded that the French government secretly plants folic acid in the drinking water in hopes of increasing their population. It’s the only explanation I could come up with.
Exhibit one- While walking the streets of Paris, the marketplaces, the grocery stores,--I couldn't help noticing there were pregnant women on top of pregnant women (figuratively speaking) as far as the eye could see.
Exhibit two- Not only were French women being inseminated like flies (yes, I know flies probably don’t inseminate but it just sounded appropriate)- but the water actually got to me and I ended up flying back to the U.S. with a mini franco-american of my own in the works, so I’m speaking from experience. (okay. The water is probably not the only explication. But I’m sure it didn’t help.)
Exhibit three-After some research, I found out that many of the socialized programs still in operation were founded after World War II in order to increase France's population. With all their efforts, it's totally conceivable that they threw a little folic acid into the water for good measure.
Basically, France put into effect programs that would help women with children. The CAF (Centre d’Allocations Familliales) still gives a monthly stipend of about 160 euros for each child under the age of three and a family allocation of around 240 euros a month if you have more than two children. If you choose to stay home and take care of your kids, they will also pay a percentage of your rent/housing costs. You get a bonus of almost 1000 euros for the birth of a child (I’m not lying. I call it ‘the birthing bonus’) and a bonus of around 300 euros per child entering primary school every September for things like clothes and school supplies.
Basically, it pays to have kids.
Almost as much as a full time job actually….
Which is probably why France has one of the highest birthing rates amongst European countries.
Well-- that and the folic acid in the water;)
Have a great weekend everyone!