So for anyone that stumbles upon this I want to share exactly what you need to obtain your visa to go to France as an au pair (and a student).
The first thing you will obviously need is a passport. Before you start looking for a family or start looking for things to pack in your suitcase make sure you have a passport. These can take up to eight weeks I think so plan ahead. So okay you have a passport? And it doesn’t expire soon? Awesome step one accomplished.
Now you need a family, which is really what you want to focus on. I used aupairworld.com and found families there. It is a bit like Facebook where you create a profile and talk about yourself, etc. Make sure to skype the family first thing you can. You can really get a feel for who they are, and the children if you can skype with them. There are many other websites as well, so look around if you can. Make sure you ask them if you can go out, if friends can visit, what they exactly expect from you and so on.
Now begins the visa process. You need a contract from the French government that is an agreement between you and the au pair host family (this can take a week to a month, mine took four days to receive). Everything must be translated into French but do yourself a favor and use Google translate as your new best friend. Then send them to your host family to double check the grammar. I spent two hours translating my transcript from college by translate and my own knowledge but they accepted it.
Once you have received your work contract get enrolled into a school, your family should be able to help you with this and hopefully pay your entrance fee (even if you work out the money later). Have them FedEx you the originals of both the entrance to the school and your contract. MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING! The consulate wants copies of everything, however, they also want to make sure that you have the originals also.
Now you need to make an appointment with your consulate (the website will have the rest of the information on what is needed for the visa). Make the appointment at least a month before you are preparing to leave as the visa may take up to three weeks.
you have to go to the consulate in your region I live near Philadelphia and had to go to Washington (this is all of PA so if you live near Ohio but are still in PA you must drive all the way to DC, it’s super fun).
Here is the consulate website: http://www.consulfrance-washington.org/spip.php?rubrique2
If you are going to be a full student there (or on exchange from your university) you will need to buy your plane ticket or at least have the schedule of the plane you want to take with you. I use student universe. It. Is. Awesome. When I studied abroad I got a round trip to France and back for $850 which is actually good pricing (your piggy bank will cry when you buy your ticket, be prepared).
Use this website for tickets: http://www.studentuniverse.com/
If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them having gotten two different visas. Next blog will be packing (which is currently a nightmare).