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  Education : nursery, school, university  

French Nurseries

French nurseries have a good reputation for organisation and teaching skills. This is why vacancies are rare. If you intend to put your child in a nursery in your district, be sure to enrol the child when you are in the early stages of pregnancy. In general there are 3 nurseries per district. You can leave your child there two or three half days a week or one full day for a modest sum. They accept babies from the age of 3 months up to pre-school age. Ladies, if you wish to continue working after the birth of your child and make the most of this facility, contact the town hall in your area for the necessary enrolment information as early as possible.

More information and services are provided there:

State-run pre-school education in France gives children a first experience of the school environment. Children attend nursery school (Ecole Maternelle) from age 3 to 6 years.

Compulsory education

A child's education in France can be divided up into two main stages: Compulsory education starts at age 6 up to 16 years of age. Children may be educated in state schools or in private schools; the latter are usually run by the Catholic Church.

  • Primary education, which starts with Cours Préparatoire (CP), then Cours Elémentaire (CE1&2) and finishes with Cours Moyen (CM1&2)
  • Secondary education, which is made up of the following: - le Collège - le Lycée

At the end of the first stage of secondary education (Troisième), students sit the Brevet des Collèges.
The first year at Lycée is called Seconde. This is the year when pupils decide which direction their studies will take. The following two years (Première and Terminale) are specialised allowing the student to prepare for the Baccalaureat (equivalent to A levels for our British friends) and is the key to university education and student life.
The table below is a summary of the different stages of a child's education depending on their age :

School years


Age (this may vary)

Pre-school education


Ecole Maternelle

3 to 6 years

Primary education


Cours Préparatoire

6 years

C.E.1 or 10th

First year of Cours Elémentaire

7 years

C.E.2 or 9th

Second year of Cours Elémentaire

8 years

C.M.1 or 8th

First year of Cours Moyen

9 years

C.M.2 or 7th

Second year of Cours Moyen

10 years

Secondary education

6th, 5th, 4th, 3th


11 to 14 years

2nd, 1st, Terminale


15 to 18 years

After your Baccalauréat, there are very different paths to choose from where your further education is concerned.

Find orientation information at: ·
ONISEP training atlas:


Post baccalaureat studies

You have 3 ways for post baccalaureat studies:

  • University
  • Grandes Ecoles
  • Specialised Schools

Long University Courses

To enrol at university you need to have a Baccalauréat or equivalent qualification. The universities offer general or more specialised courses at all levels in the subject areas of your choice. Teaching is based on several stages of studies and allows students to get a broad base of knowledge. Your course will go through different stages, within which you will have the possibility of specialising in your chosen field.

Long university studies are made up of three successive cycles. Law, Arts or Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Humanities, Economic etc.) are the main subjects. Each stage of the course is concluded by a state-recognised qualification. Universities have also set up additional training courses orientated towards the world of work, with the aim of responding to the needs of companies.

Premier cycle (stage 1)
The first stage of university education lasts 2 years. A tough but not impossible selection procedure means that 40% of the students do not pass their first year
[pass again the exam next year or leave the university system].

[several diplomas: DEUG, DEUST]

Second cycle (Stage 2)
Students holding a DEUG, DEUST or an equivalent qualification can go on to the second stage of further education.

[several diplomas: Licence (3 years of study after the Baccalaureat – equivalent of the Bachelor degree), Maîtrise (Masters's Degree - 4 years of study after the Baccalaureat), IUP (leading to a master's degree in engineering), MST (Master's degree in scientific and technical subjects), MSG (Master's degree in management), Magistère (University Master’s degree, high level giving the opportunity to obtain post-graduate degrees or training period qualification whilst in that course)]

Troisième cycle (Stage 3)
Students holding a Master's degree can start the third cycle of university studies.

[Diplomas: DESS (is a vocational qualification), DEA (is a research-based course of study. Following this, a doctoral thesis is to be written over 2 to 4 years – equivalent to the British PhD)]

Short courses studies

Two years of studying is sometime enough to interest employers. These courses are short, specialised and sought after by companies.

[diplomas: DUT, BTS]

If you wish to enrol for the first stage of further education, you can pick up an enrolment form (demande d'admission préalable) from the Culture department of the French Embassy in your country. It is best to start this procedure 12 months in advance.

Grandes Ecoles Grandes

Ecoles are institutions of higher education with competitive entrance examinations. Whether they specialise in humanities, science, business or agronomy, the entrance exams are very selective. Most of them are private and their cost is about 4500 €/year but you can find specific study loans from banks.

The first step towards a Grande Ecole is the Baccalauréat. And that’s not all. Your teacher’s report on your performance in Terminale (the final year of school) also plays a role in the selection process.

For the second stage you will need a lot of patience, courage and a sharp pencil! This stage consists of preparatory classes for entrance to a Grande Ecole. This is just work work work because you need to be as well prepared as possible if you want to achieve your goal and be accepted by a Grande Ecole. And for the third and last stage, you will take both written and oral exams.

Preparatory classes
The preparatory classes are an initial selection procedure before the competitive examinations for entrance to the Grandes Ecoles. Admission is based on work experience and qualifications and an application dossier must be submitted before 1st May.

There are different types of preparatory classes:

  • Humanities: Hypokhâgne and Khâgne
  • Science: Mathématiques supérieures et spéciales
  • Business : HEC (Hautes études commerciales)
  • Agronomy

At the end of 2 year preparation, depending of your efforts and ability, you will pass the exam and enter to the sort of schools you worked for:
- Ecoles normales supérieures
- Ecoles d’Ingénieurs
- Political science : Instituts d’études politiques (IEP)
- Business and Management (The Grandes Ecoles de commerce et de gestion are state-recognised private establishments of higher education. The course fees are usually between 20,000 and 40,000 French francs per year).

School holidays

In France the start of school holidays are staggered in an attempt to avoid congestion on the motorways. The dates of school holidays are assigned to each school depending on the area they are situated in.

  Living in France  

With their church bells, market stalls selling Stilton and Cheddar, and local cricket teams, there are few more heart-warming evocations of 1950s Britain.  In fact, the erstwhile attractions of "La Vie Anglaise" are now such an integral part of French small towns and villages that they have become a key reason for British people moving across the Channel.


Rather than being attracted by fresh daily croissants, communal pétanque, or other aspects of French rural living, almost all expressed a desire to return to a country where old-fashioned British values prevailed. They are looking for an authentic experience that fits in with their dreams. Freshly farmed food, the security of a tight-knit community – all of these things people associate with a typical French village that they feel no longer exists in Britain. There is a nostalgia for the way British villages used to be 50 years ago.

  The Opale Coast, a haven for commuters  

Since the completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the opening of the newly refurbished St Pancras station, Calais Fréthun is only 55 minutes from the centre of London. So what treasures does this little known corner of France have to offer the potential commuter?


If your contact with the Pas de Calais is limited to a day trip to Cité Europe or even driving off the ferry or shuttle onto the excellent motorway network heading for the sun or the ski slopes, then you might be forgiven for thinking that this region has little more to offer than shopping, wine and beer warehouses and flat and uninteresting landscape.  You would be mistaken...


Next time you are in the area take the time to wander through the cobbled squares of the charming little market towns of St Omer and Ardres, or the attractive seaside resorts of Wimereux and Wissant..., all within a half hour's drive of Calais Fréthun TGV station. Amble along the miles of wide, open sandy beaches or along the cliff tops wih a bird's eye view of the white cliffs of Dover. Go deer and wild boar spotting in the department's many hectares of 'domaniale' forests. Explore the tiny villages that are nestled within the gentle valleys of the Calais, Boulogne, Saint Omer triangle and beyond...   


What this region certainly has no shortage of!    

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