France > Moving

How To Move To France - The Definitive Guide

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Apply For A Visa
Find A Job
Rent Property
Buy Property
Register For Healthcare
Open A Bank Account
Learn The Language
Choose A School



Apply For A Visa

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When moving to or visiting France, you may well require a visa. Whether you do or not, and the type of visa you require, will depend upon your nationality and the intended duration of your stay.

The Schengen Zone

France is one of the 26 countries that, together, make up the Schengen Zone. The countries within this zone have what is effectively one common visa, meaning that there are no border controls between them.

EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens

Thanks to the Freedom of Movement Act, any EU (European Union), EEA (European Economic Area), or Swiss citizens do not require a visa or residence permit to live, study, or work in France.

Relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens

Dependent relatives and spouses of EU/EAA/Swiss citizens who are not from the EU themselves do not require a visa to enter France. They do, however, need to apply for a residence permit (carte de sejour) within two months of entering the country.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens

All non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens need to apply for a long-stay visa (visa long de séjour) as well as a residence permit if they wish to remain in the country for longer than 90 days. Citizens of some countries also need a visa simply to enter France, whether it is a long stay or a short stay.

Short-stay Visas

Transit Visa
If you have a stop-over in a French airport on your way between destinations, even if you will not be leaving the airport, you may require a transit or airport visa to allow you into the international zone of the French airport.

Schengen Visa
On the other hand, if you plan to leave the airport for any amount of time, you may require a short stay visa, also known as a Schengen Visa, which will allow you to enter any country within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a period of 6 months. It’s important to remember that, if you enter France on a Schengen Visa, you will not be able to look for, apply for, or take up any form of work.

Anyone from outside the EU, EEA, and Switzerland will need to apply for a Schengen Visa - excluding those from certain countries, such as Japan, Canada, Korea, USA, New Zealand, and Australia.

To apply for a Schengen Visa, you should apply to the French Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. For your application to be processed, you will require a valid passport or national ID document issued within the past 10 years and valid for a minimum of 3 months after your intended departure from France. You will also be asked to prove that you have enough funds to cover the duration of your visit, that you have somewhere to stay whilst in the country, and that you have a valid medical insurance policy with a minimum cover level of EUR 30,000.

Long-term Visas (Visa de long séjour)

Whether it is for business or pleasure, anyone wishing to stay in France for longer than 90 days must apply for a long stay visa (Visa de long séjour), with the exception of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as anyone from Andorra, Algeria, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City.

There are a number of different long stay visas for different purposes, these include a holiday visa (visa long séjour visiteur), an employment visa (salerié), a study visa (étudiant), and a private and family life visa (vie privée et familiale). If you are applying for a working visa, you must have an approved and signed contract before your visa will be granted.

Applications for a long stay visa must be made at the French Embassy or Consulate in your home country, prior to departing for France. To qualify, you must have an employment contract of at least one year, or be a temporary worker with an employment contract between three months and one year. Alternatively, you can be a scientific researcher, a student or intern, the spouse of a French citizen or a foreign national legally living in France, or coming to France as a visitor with enough funds to cover your stay.

Residence Permit (carte de séjour)

If you decide you want to stay in France longer than your long stay visa permits, you will need to apply for a renewable residence permit within two months of your visa’s expiry date. Residence permits are usually renewable every year, however there are other varieties available, such as a skills and talents permit (competences et talents), which is renewable every three years, and a permanent residence permit, which is valid for up to 10 years.

Applications for Residence permits must be made at the local prefecture, where you will be required to present details of your family and financial situation, your health insurance cover, proof of your French address, and an employment contract (if applicable).

Permanent Residency

If you have been living in France constantly for five years, you will be eligible to apply for a 10-year renewable long term EC card or French Citizenship. You will, however, need to meet certain requirements in order to be approved, including demonstrating that you have a good grasp of the French language.


Useful Resources

Visas Office
Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Solidarity Development
11 rue de la Maison-Blanche
BP 103
44036 Nantes Cedex 01
France
www.immigration.gouv.fr
Tel: (00 33) 02 51 77 20 20


Find A Job

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As with much of Europe, and even the world, unemployment rates in France are currently amongst the highest they have ever been. In fact, according to recent reports, there are over 3.5 million people unemployed in the country; that’s 10.5% of the overall population.

Of those in employment, around 80% work within the services sector, whilst approximately 18% work in the industrial sector, and 2% are employed with agriculture.

All EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals have the same right to employment as French citizens do and will not need a work permit to have a job, be self-employed, or set up their own business. However, due to the current employment market, with jobs being relatively scarce, it is perhaps not surprising that you will find it much easier to find employment if you can speak French.

Those from outside the EU will usually only be considered for a position if there are no suitable French or EU applicants. Non-EU/EAA nationals will also require a work permit and a residency permit to work in France. You will, however, need to secure a job before you can apply for your permit as you need a contract of work from your new employer before you can apply for it.

There are a whole host of large multinational companies based within France, who will consider applications from international graduates. Companies such as AXA, EDF, L’Oréal, Orange and Renault, all have large head-offices in the country. If you’re considering a move to France, it might also be worth looking for a job in your home country with a company that has offices in France and offers transfer opportunities.

However, it’s important to remember that, to find employment in France, you will need a suitable command of French – even if the role you are applying for requires your mother tongue; you will still need some French language abilities. If your French isn’t too good, it’s worth considering a TEFL job or similar that will allow you to brush up your French skills whilst you work!

There are a number of ways to find job vacancies in France, including advertisements in the local media and also recruitment companies. Whatever sort of role you are looking for, there are a whole host of recruitment agencies and job sites that can be used to find work, these include:

Indeed France
http://www.indeed.fr

International Au Pair Association
http://www.iapa.org/

Monster
http://www.monster.fr

Speaking Agency is a site specialising in English speaking jobs.

Any EU, EEA, or Swiss nationals can also use the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES) to search for jobs. The site also allows you to upload your CV so potential employers can find you.

In addition to private-sector recruitment agencies and job sites, the French National Employment Agency (Pôle Emploi) operates both online and through regional offices all over France. The agency lists a wide range of job vacancies including manual, unskilled, and casual positions.

Speculative applications (candidatures spontanées) are viewed favourably in France – those with the foresight to approach a company asking for potential work are considered to be ambitious and proactive. So it’s certainly worth contacting any companies within your sector for whom you’d like to work.

When you are invited for an interview, bear in mind that interviews in France are very formal and so you should always dress and act accordingly. Bear in mind that it’s not unusual for interviewers to ask questions about your personal life and future plans; so don’t be surprised if this is the case!

Once you have successfully found a role, your new employer will usually ask for proof of your identity and proof of your right to work. You will also generally need to open a French bank account, particularly if your earnings amount to over 1500 Euros per month.

Anyone working on a French employment contract is required to pay approximately 10% of their wage in Social Security contributions. If you qualify this will automatically be deducted from your wage and goes to cover health care, pensions, and unemployment benefits. All French residents, who are physically present in France for a minimum of 183 days a year will be liable to pay income tax, however much they earn. Any tax contributions made in other EU countries will receive tax credit on any income tax paid in another country.


Rent Property

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As in most countries, rents in France can vary dramatically depending on the location, type, condition, and size of the property. As a general rule, however, rents tend to start from around 300 Euros per month for small apartments in less appealing areas, and increase to around 1000 Euros for a two-bedroom apartment in larger cities. Of course, rents in the capital, Paris tend to be considerably higher still.

When looking for a rental property, it’s most common to use estate agents with dedicated letting departments, local classified papers, rental websites, or by asking around in the local area. Before you begin your search, it is important that you understand the process of renting in France and have a good idea as to whether you’re looking for a long or short term let on a furnished or unfurnished property.

Rents in France are completely down to the discretion of the landlord and the tenant, and both are free to negotiate an acceptable agreement between them. However, when it comes to rent increases, the landlord cannot implement an increase unless this is specified in the tenancy agreement.

By law, a tenancy agreement (bail or contrat de location) must be provided if the property in question is the main residence of the tenant. The tenancy must be signed on or before the tenancy start date and does not need to be witnessed by a notary (notaire).

There are also certain clauses that must be included within the tenancy agreement. For example, the commencement date of the agreement, the duration, the amount of tent, and the amount of the deposit must all be outlined clearly in the tenancy.

Equally, there are a number of clauses that are prevented from being used in a contract, so it’s worth keeping a look out for them when signing your lease – an obligatory payment or the rent by standing order, or the obligation to take out an insurance policy chosen by the landlord are both forbidden by law. Interestingly enough, it is also against the law for a landlord to refuse to allow pets to reside in the property.

You should also note that an unfurnished property must have a minimum tenancy of three years, whilst a furnished property must be at least one year. If you require a shorter tenancy for professional reasons, then this can be arranged however it must be agreed between you and the landlord in advance.

The tenancy agreement should also include a condition report and survey report for the property, including energy performance and asbestos.

The majority of French Landlords require a damage deposit (depot de garantie) to cover any damage to the property or rent arrears, should they arise. The amount of the deposit for unfurnished properties is fixed at one month, and law regulates this. When it comes to furnished properties, however, there is no limit on the amount of deposit a landlord can request.

For annual tenancies, the landlord must return the deposit to the tenant within 2 months of the contact ending. If any amount is deducted from the deposit, it must be clearly accounted for and justified.

As a general rule, tenants of unfurnished properties have a much greater level of protection than those of furnished properties. However, whilst the regulations and requirements surrounding furnished (meublèe) and unfurnished (vide) properties vary in the French legal system, there isn’t actually a legal definition in terms of what makes a property furnished. With this in mind, it is crucial that, when viewing a property, you check how much of the furniture will be left for you.

When leaving the property, a three-month notice period is the standard practice, although tenants can technically give notice at any time. Landlords, however, must give six months’ notice if they wish to end the tenancy and they must also have a good reason to do so.

The good news for tenants is that the legal system in France is extremely pro-tenant, meaning that tenants have considerable rights, as well as the option of taking legal action against their landlord should those rights be compromised. For example, once the tenant has the keys to the property in their possession, the landlord no longer has the right to enter the property without the tenant’s expressed consent. What’s more, if they enter the property without consent, they can be charged with trespassing or harassment.


Buy Property

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The process of buying a property in France is generally simple, straightforward, and well regulated. Property can be sold privately, through public notary (notaires), or through an estate agent (immobiliers), although most expats tend to buy through estate agents as the process is more familiar and it is more likely that the staff will speak English.

Choosing an estate agent in France can be daunting, especially if you are new to the country. To ensure you receive the best possible service, always ensure that your chosen agent is a member of a registered body such as FNAIM, SNPI, or UNPL. You should also always visit their office before instructing them to act on your behalf.

The process of buying a property in France usually takes between 3 and 4 months, from the initial offer through to the final signing of the contract. There are a number of stages involved and, unlike the UK, there is no such thing as a subject to contract sale, although you may be asked by the estate agent or the seller to formalise your offer in writing (offer d’achat).

Once your offer has been accepted, the process begins, starting with the Compromis de Vente (the first contract), which outlines the main terms of the agreement between the buyer and the seller. When signing this contact, the buyer is usually required to pay a 10% deposit, which will then be held by the notaire until the sale is complete. The Compromis de Vente is a legally binding contract that can only be terminated if one of the conditional clauses (Clauses suspensives) isn’t met.

The Clauses suspensives are clauses added into the Compromis de Vente that allow the buyer to withdraw from the purchase under certain circumstances, such as if the buyer’s mortgage is refused, planning permission is declined, etc. Any clauses can be added into the contract, however both the buyer and the seller must agree to them.

Once the terms have been agreed and both parties have signed the Compromis de Vente, the buyer is allowed a 10-day cooling off period to consider their purchase. During this time, the buyer can withdraw their offer without incurring any sort of penalty before it becomes legally binding. It’s important to note that this cooling off period doesn’t apply to the purchase of single building plots or to purchases that are made through a French property company (an SCI).

The final stage in the process is the signing of the final contract (Acte de Vente or Acte Authentique). The buyer must sign this himself or herself or the power of attorney if this isn’t possible. It’s important that you arrange to view the property of the day that the contract is finalised and signed – there is a clause in the contract stating that the property is ‘sold as seen on the signing date’ so it’s important that you check everything is in order. You won’t receive the keys to the property until the funds for the property and the fees are in the notaire’s bank account, so ensure mortgage and finances are in order in the lead up to the signing date.

There are a number of professional surveys that must be provided by the seller as part of the selling process; these are collectively referred to as the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT). These surveys must be carried out before the completion of the sale takes place and you should not sign the sale and purchase agreement without having seen the reports.

Estate agent fees are generally between 4% and 10% of the overall property price, these fees should be included in the advertised price of the property so look out for FAI after the price to confirm that this is the case. The notaire’s fee, however, isn’t usually included in the asking price so you should always budget for this separately.

French notaire fees (Frais de Notaire) include the total fees and taxes for the purchase of the property (such as stamp duty and VAT), and the actual notaire fee itself, which usually represents approximately 1% of the total fee. The fees and taxes payable will depend upon the age of the property. The total fees and taxes for existing properties are usually between 7% and 10% of the overall purchase price (excluding estate agent fees). When it comes to new properties, fees and registration taxes are around 2% plus VAT at 20.0% on the purchase price.


Register For Healthcare

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QUICK LINK: France health insurance

Made up of a network of public and private hospitals, doctors, and other medical service providers, the French health care system is seen as one of the best health care systems in the world. In fact, the World Health Organisation has named it the best performing system in the world, based on the availability and organisation of health care providers.

Priding itself on caring for every French resident, regardless of their age, income, or status, the majority of healthcare costs are covered by the state via a public health insurance scheme. Boasting high expenditure, high patient success rates, and low mortality rates, it’s perhaps not surprising that the system almost always scores a high rate of customer satisfaction.

The system is funded by donations from the state health system (Sécurité Sociale), the central government, and contributions from the patient. Anyone employed in France has around 6-7% of their income deducted to pay for health care, in order to cover compulsory health insurance to one of three non-profit agencies – the largest of these funds covers 84% of the population and the other two split the remaining 12% between them. The insurance schemes work by reimbursing a proportion of the fee paid to the patient’s doctor or dentist.

If you are not a resident in France but have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can access state healthcare in the same way as any French Citizen and don’t need to be registered with a GP in order to do so. In order to use the EHIC in France, you need to ensure that your doctor or dentist is conventionné – that is, they fully adhere to the national agreement between practitioners and the national social security system and either charges the official rates, or is free to set their own rates.

The EHIC does not apply to expats residing in France on a long-term basis, however, who must join the national state health insurance system, the CMU scheme. To join the scheme, you must present yourself at the local CPAM office (Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie), who will require a number of documents including proof of identity and proof of long-term residence.

In the event of a medical emergency whilst you are in France, you should visit the local Accident and Emergency (A&E/ER) (les urgencies). Alternatively, you can call 112 or 15 for SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente), however you should note that a doctor will need to confirm that you are genuinely in need of an ambulance and, if it is decided that it is not necessary, you will be expected to cover the cost yourself.

Finding yourself unwell in a new country can be worrying, especially if you aren’t confident in the local language. The majority of French doctors and emergency services staff speak reasonably fluent English, however there is no guarantee of this. If you are not confident enough to discuss your medical issues in French, it is best to check when you book an appointment, or take a trusted French speaker along with you.

As in the UK, smoking is banned in the majority of public areas in France, including all enclosed public spaces such as offices, schools, government buildings, bars, and restaurants. Having introduced a smoking ban in February 2007, there is now a minimum fine of 500 Euros for anyone caught breaking the new law.

Although the French are by no means suffering from the same level of obesity as many other countries, it has been an increasing health issue for the country over recent years.

Of course, mental health is just as important as physical health and, if you move to France, it’s important that you are able to access counselling services in your native language. There are a number of organisations set up specifically to provide support for English speaking expats – the details of which can be found below.

Useful Resources:

Centre des Liasons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale
http://www.cleiss.fr/index_en.html

Counselling in France
http://www.counsellinginfrance.com

The Counseling Center
Monday - Friday
23, Avenue George V, 75008 Paris
Tel: 01 47 23 61 13

International Counseling Services (ICS)
65, quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris
Tel: 01 45 50 26 49

Paris Therapy Services
www.paristherapyservices.com

S.O.S. Help
Tel: 01 46 21 46 46 (15.00 to 22.00)
www.soshelpline.org


Open A Bank Account

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If you are relocating to France, you will need to understand the banking processes and regulations. As with most European nations, the banking system in France is sophisticated, well organised, and generally easy to navigate. There is a high level of consumer protection in France, and their banks are amongst the strongest and most reliable in the world.

There are a number of local, national, and international banks to choose from. Many expats do, however, tend to opt for open accounts with larger banks as they are less likely to encounter language barriers. The main national banks include BNP Paribas, CIC, Credit Agricole, and Societe Generale.

You can also choose to open an account at the French Post Office (La Poste), this can be particularly useful for expats living in more rural areas as you will be able to access your account from almost every village in the country.

Internet-only banks are becoming increasingly popular in France and they usually offer lower fees and charges than other accounts. There are now a number of trusted internet-only banks operating in the country, including ING Direct, Groupama, BRED, and Monabanq.

With the influx of UK and US nationals to certain areas, many major banks within these regions now have English speaking staff within their branches, which can be a huge help to expats whose French skills are not yet up to the job.

Standard banking hours vary from branch to branch depending upon the location, the bank, and the size of the branch. Typical banking opening hours in cities and towns are Monday to Friday, 08:30-900 until 16:00-17:30, some banks are also starting to offer extended opening hours one day per week. Smaller branches and those in rural areas usually close between 12:00-14:00 each day. If you choose to bank with the Post Office, branches are generally open from 08:00 until 18:00 or 19:00 Monday to Friday, and 08:00 until 12.00 on Saturdays.

Opening a bank account in France is generally a straightforward process, although the exact requirements will vary depending upon the bank you are opening your account with and the type of account you choose to open. Although it is possible to open an account before you arrive in France, many people find it easier to wait until they arrive in the country, as fewer documents are required.

There are various types of accounts on offer, many of which are similar to those available in other countries. It’s important to note, however, that expats who have resided in France for less than 3 months are only permitted to open a non-resident account (compete non-résident), which usually will not entitle you to an overdraft or any form of credit.

Non-residents will be asked to present proof of identity and proof of residence when opening an account. You may also need a letter of recommendation from a financial institution and an initial deposit of up to 10,500 Euro.

Alternatively, to open a resident’s account, you will usually need proof of identity, proof of earnings, proof of residence (carte de sejour), and occasionally a reference from your employer or a financial institution.

There is a high level of consumer protection in France, and their banks are amongst the strongest and most reliable in the world.

Although many businesses accept debit cards (carte de debit) and credit cards (carte de credit), not all of them do, particularly when it comes to smaller businesses or smaller transactions. In rural areas, many shops and restaurants operate on a cash-only basis, so it’s advisable to ensure that you always have a supply of cash with you.

Some expats are surprised to find that cheques are still often used to pay for all manner of goods and services. When paying with a cheque, however, always ensure that you have enough funds to cover the payment as a declined cheque is considered to be a severe fraudulent offence and the account holder may be placed on a blacklist with the Banque de France, meaning that they may be prevented from opening any further accounts in France or receiving any form of credit.

French banks are extremely cautious when approving loans and overdrafts, so if you are applying for either of these products, expect to be asked for proof of residency and income (which will need to be stable and regular).


Learn The Language

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The official language of France is, of course, French, which is the first language of 88% of the country’s population. It is the official or main language in some 55 countries across the globe and French is spoken by almost 300 million people.

The standard French spoken today is derived from the variety of the language used in the area surrounding Paris and the Loire Valley.

There are, however, also a number of minority languages and dialects that can be heard across the country, particularly in regions surrounding the country’s borders. None of these languages have any official status within the country, however.

Breton, a Celtic language similar to Welsh and Cornish, is spoken in the Brittany area by approximately 1.2% of the overall French population and has approximately 200,000 everyday speakers. Other minority languages and dialects spoken in France include Flemish (in north eastern France), Provençal (in the south east), and Alsatian (a German dialect in Alsace and Lorraine).

In Southern France, over 7 million people speak Occitan dialects but, again, these do not have official language status. Occitan is also known as Provençal or Langue d’oc and is used in Southern France as well as the Aran Valley in Spain and some areas of Italy. Whilst it is not recognised by the French government, Occitan has approximately 610,000 speakers, many of whom speak French as their first language.

Other minority languages have been brought to the country thanks to immigration – there are communities across France speaking Arabic, Chinese, English, or one of many North African languages as their primary language.

The French education system has a strong focus on language learning and students start learning additional languages from an early age. Within cities and large towns, therefore, it is not uncommon to find that the majority of people have at least a basic command of English.

Despite the fact that much of the French population can converse, or at least communicate, in English, it goes without saying that anyone considering moving to France should make a concerted effort to learn the language. Not only will it give you a head start when it comes to finding a property, a job, and navigating all of the related red tape, it will also help you to settle into the social aspect of your new country. The more skilled you are in French, the easier you will find it to settle into your community and make friends, as well as deal with doctors, shopkeepers, officials, and anyone else you might need to engage with. So, whilst English is widely spoken amongst the French and you could technically survive without learning the local language, if you want to make a success of your new life, it’s certainly advisable to learn it.

Expats have plenty of opportunities to learn French once they have arrived in the country. With the amount of English speakers moving to the country increasing, language schools are popping up to accommodate them and, with night school classes, intensive courses, and even one-to-one tuition on offer, there is sure to be a class that fits around your needs and your lifestyle.

Although it is always advisable to learn the language of the country you are moving to and mastering the French language will certainly help you to settle into the country both personally and professionally, there are a number of jobs available that don’t necessarily require expats to speak French.

With so many Brits and Americans moving to France, it’s not surprising that English-speaking estate agents are in demand. As a result, there are numerous estate agents who are crying out for purely English speaking staff. Other expats find work as bartenders, English tutors, ski-instructors, tour guides, and even freelance writers or editors. Many French families also look for nannies whose native language is English, in order to give their little ones a head start in language learning!


Useful Resources

BBC Learn French website
www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/

LanguageGuide.org - Francais
www.languageguide.org/french/

The French Tutorial (standard edition offered free)
www.frenchtutorial.com

Alliance Francaise (AF) - non-profit state-approved language training
www.alliancefr.org

Hachette (publisher of guides to improve children’s language skills)
www.hachette.com


Choose A School

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Within the French education system, schooling is compulsory from the age of 6 to 16, during this time; education is also free, unless you choose to send your children to Private school.

French schools are divided into three stages – primary school (école), middle school (collège), and high school (lycée). Primary schools cater for children from 6 until 11 and then students attend the Collège (middle school) for four years, until age 15.

After Collège, French students move on to the Lycée (high school) – 16-18. There are two different routes available to students depending upon their learning preferences and their future intentions – the General/Technological Lycée is designed for those students that wish to continue on to higher education, whilst the Vocational/Professional Lycée is aimed at students who wish to go directly into employment.

At the end of their compulsory secondary education, students receive the Baccalauréat qualification. Usually taken at 18, the Baccalauréat is required to enter university or a professional vocation.

Although most French students attend free, local schools, there is also the option to enrol your child into a state-contracted private school, a fully independent private school or an international school. Depending upon the age of your child and the permanency of your move to France, you might decide that continuing their education using the English language and curriculum will be beneficial.

The French education system is generally considered to be amongst the best in the world and maintaining this reputation has always been a priority for the Government, which is consistently reflected in their Education budget.

Similarly to the UK, the majority of French schools follow the national curriculum, which is set by the country’s Ministry of Education. Since reforms were passed in May 2015, however, schools are now permitted to set 20% of the curriculum themselves.

According to the French education system, children must attend a school within a set distance of their home. If you want your child to attend a school other than the one assigned by the Town Hall, you must submit a request (dèrogation) stating your reasons.

When it comes to enrolling into a French state school, you will be required to submit an enrolment file (dossier d’inscription) at your town hall for primary schools or at the rectorat school service for secondary schools. The file must include the child’s birth certificate or passport, proof of immunisations, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.

Although most students in France attend school for between 24 and 28 hours each week, the structure of the school week depends very much upon the region, with different authorities choosing to spread learning hours over four, four and a half, or five days. The typical school day begins at 08:30 and ends at 16:30, although this can be later for older students. The timetable generally includes two breaks (known as rècré) and at least an hour and a half for lunch.

With a total of 117 days holiday each year, French schools have the longest holidays (vacances scolaires) in the world. Whilst students only attend school for approximately 160 days per year, they make up for this with long school hours and ample amounts of homework.

Compared to countries such as the UK and the USA, France’s state schools are somewhat lacking in the extra-curricular activities department. To the surprise of many expats, they don’t tend to have sports clubs or teams, extra-curricular music, drama, arts, or crafts accessories. Local sports associations often arrange both sporting and non-sporting activities in the place of school provision, however, there are usually fees involved.

Upon completion of their compulsory education, students can opt to take one of a number of paths into Higher Education. Over 50% of 18-21 year olds in France are in full time education. The French higher education system is split into three levels, in line with the rest of Europe – students begin with a Bachelor’s degree (Licence or Licence Professionnelle) and then have the option to progress on to a Masters (Master) or a PHD (Doctorat). As higher education is funded by the state, tuition fees for French students are very low, especially in comparison to fees in the UK and the USA.

For more information, take a look at the Ministry of Education.



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