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Back to school in Provence - Discover the French school system and our experience.

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Back to school
Virginie In Provence

It’s back to school in France. I just reread my article from the last two years. And I realize that the concerns have really changed. For two years, we were mostly concerned about whether children would wear masks or not. Even if Covid has not disappeared, the questions related to the back to school have become more classic. Children wonder who will be their master or mistress and if they will find their classmates in their class. I will tell you here how things went for us. I would also like to share some information about the French school system.

Back to school in France – How does it work?

To be clear, the school system is the same everywhere in France.

At the age of 2 and a half or 3 years, a child can go to kindergarten if he is clean.

Indeed, teachers in kindergarten are supported by assistants but they would not have time to change all children. There are three sections in kindergarten: the small, the medium and the large kindergarten section.

From the age of 6, children then move on to primary school.

Children return to CP (first grade) and then move on to CE1 (second grade), CE2 (third grade), CM1 (fourth grade) and CM2 (fifth grade).

Then it’s middle school. Students start middle school in the 6th class (sixth grade) and then move on to the 5th (7th grade), 4th (8th grade) and 3rd (9th grade). At the end of the course, students must take an exam called the Brevet.

Finally it is the high school with the Second, the First and the Terminale. At the end of the year of Terminale, the students must pass the baccalaureat.

For information, school is mandatory up to 16 years in France which corresponds to the beginning of high school or end of college.

Back to school
The children of Virginie In Provence ready for the new school year.

Back to school in Provence – When is back to school?

For my 3 children, the back to school has passed with joy and good humor… or not!

School holidays last 2 months in France. It always seems long at the beginning. And at the end of the holidays, we realize that they passed in the blink of an eye. The start of school is always on September 1st even if September 1st is not a Monday. However, this year, as September 1st was a Friday, the start of the school year was scheduled for Monday, September 4th. As we just returned from Bali, I am delighted with this decision that leaves us a few more days to recover from the jet lag.

Every year, we receive an email from the principal announcing that the distribution of students per class will be displayed the day before the back to school on the school windows. This year, we also received the distribution by email. This is the first time. I find it very nice because it avoids a trip. We’ll see if it continues next year.

Back to school
The children of Virginie In Provence

Back to school in Provence – What about our children?

Leo came back in seventh grade. He’s in middle school. Leo was mostly worried about whether he would be with his friends in class. Tom went back to fifth grade. This is his last year in elementary school. He was very anxious. Tom is the most anxious of our three children. Last year, he cried of stress and I was able to accompany him to his class even though he was already in fourth grade. The teaching team is very attentive which is more than enjoyable, especially in this kind of case. For Lily, it is also a big stress because she made a bone tear the day before the back to school. With Tom, they put tennis balls on the trampoline. Her foot slipped on a ball. So she starts her comeback with crutches. She is also stressed about meeting her new master. She already knows that she will find very good friends in her class, even if she will not be with her best friend.

Can’t wait to meet them tonight so they can tell me about their day.

And for you, how is back to school?

I would love to read your messages so feel free to share your adventures with me.

If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!

Virginie In Provence


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