The education system in France differs from the Russian one. Since 1959, education in France has become compulsory from the age of 6. However, with Emmanuel Macron coming to power, the age threshold has decreased. From this year, education in France is considered compulsory from 3 to 16 years of age. There are more than 65,000 educational institutions in France, which are managed by the Ministry of National Education. About 15% of institutions offer primary education. 20% of all institutions that offer school education in France are private.

Education system in France

Primary education in France


Primary education in France consists of two cycles: preschool education and primary school.

Preschool education in France (école maternelle – literally mother’s school)

Education in France, as we wrote above, has been compulsory since 2018, starting at age 3. At this age, the child enters a preschool institution, in other words, a kindergarten, and studies there from 3 to 4 years of age. In some regions of France, children are accepted into kindergarten from the age of 2. But these are rare cases.

Thus, preschool children are divided into groups:

  • “very junior group” (toute petite section);
  • junior group (petite section);
  • middle group (moyenne section);
  • senior group (grande section).

Primary school in France (école élémentaire)

Primary school in France starts at 6-6.5 years old and consists of 5 courses:

  • preparatory courses (cours préparatoire or CP);
  • initial course 1st year (cours éléùentaire 1ère année or CE1);
  • initial course 2nd year (cours éléùentaire 2ème année or CE2);
  • intermediate course 1st year (cours moyen 1ère année or CM1);
  • intermediate course 2nd year (cours moyen 2èmeannée or CM2).

Secondary education in France


Secondary education in France is divided into two stages:


The first cycle of secondary education takes place in college, where the child spends 4 years. It is interesting that in France the numbering of classes occurs in the reverse order: a student enters college in the 6th grade and graduates from the 3rd.

The final stage of secondary education in France takes place at the lyceum and lasts at least 3 years: 2nd grade, 1st grade and final grade (terminale). At the lyceum, the child chooses a specialization – general or technical – and at the end of his studies receives a bachelor’s degree.

The student can also choose a professional bachelor (baccalauréat professionnel) in a specialization that interests him and does not oblige him to obtain higher education (for example, a mechanic or a restaurant worker). In this case, studies at the lyceum can be extended for 2 years, during which the student undergoes internships in companies in the chosen specialty.

Cost of education in France

Public school in France

Education in primary and secondary public schools in France is free, as is the case in many universities. Even for international students, higher education in France was quite affordable until recently: a student had to pay a student fee of approximately €200. However, the situation changed dramatically in 2018, when Prime Minister Edouard Philippe approved a law on new conditions for studying foreign students at French universities: now, upon admission to a university, a foreign student must pay a fee of 2,770 to 3,770 € per year.

Private school in France

Private schools in France are partly funded by the state and follow generally accepted public education programs (although there are educational institutions that do not operate according to state standards, for example, Montessori schools).

The cost of studying at a private school in France depends on many criteria, primarily on its location: in Paris the cost of training is higher than, for example, in Mantes-la-Jolie (a city in the Yvelines department, about 70 km from the capital). The difference in price can be significant: on average from 2500 to 24000 € per year.

10 popular private schools in France


  1. International School of Paris. The age of students is from 3 to 18 years. Different stages of education: from kindergarten to bachelor’s degree. Training is conducted in English.

Where: Paris
Tuition fees: from 21,400 € to 32,400 € per year

  1. American School of Paris (L’Americain School of Paris). Training is also conducted in English. The age of students is 2-18 years.

Where: Saint-Cloud
Tuition fees: from 18,400 € to 33,500 € per year

  1. British School of Paris (Le British School of Paris). Training is based on the British education system. The age of students is from 3 to 18 years.

Where: Croissy-sur-Seine
Tuition fees: from 18,300 € to 29,500 € per year

  1. Euroschool (Eurecole). The school educates children from 3 to 18 years old. Teaching is conducted in several languages: French, English, German or Spanish.

Where: Paris
Tuition fee: from 10,000 € per year

  1. International School of Nice. Training is conducted in French and English for students aged 4 to 18 years.

Where: Nice
Tuition fees: from 11,700 € to 18,400 € per year


  1. International School of Nantes. Training takes place in French and English. The school accepts children from 3 months to 15 years.

Where: Nantes
Tuition fees: from 535 € to 850 € per month

  1. International private bilingual school (Ecole Privée Bilingue Internationale). The curriculum is based on French and English. Students are asked to choose Spanish, German or Chinese as an additional language.

Where: Montpellier
Tuition fees: from 6550 € to 15900 € per year

  1. International School of Bordeaux (Bordeaux International School). Offers bilingual education for children aged 3 to 18 years.

Where: Bordeaux
Tuition fees: from 3600 € to 17350 € per year

  1. School Jeanine Manuel (École Jeanine Manuel). Training is conducted in two languages. Chinese, Spanish, Italian and German are taught as foreign languages. The age of students is from 3 to 18 years.

Where: Paris and Lille
Tuition fees: from 5,300 € to 21,350 € per year

  1. International School of Toulouse. The school educates children aged 3 to 18 years. Education is primarily in English, but French, Spanish or German are also available as a first or foreign language.

Where: Toulouse
Tuition fees: from 15,300 € to 26,350 € per year

How to enroll in a private school in France


Education in private schools in France is available to everyone, including foreign children. However, the best private schools in France have a limited enrollment, so you should take care of your child’s education in advance. In most cases, submitting documents is possible through the form in the “Admission” section on the school website.

A motivation letter plays an important role when applying to a private school in France. Its writing should be treated with special attention: it is important to highlight the child’s greatest strengths and skills, emphasize his individuality, and show that the specifics of the chosen school most closely correspond to the child’s development.

When enrolling in a private school in France, you must pay a school fee (frais de scolarité), which usually ranges from 500 €. This is a one-time payment for student enrollment. In the event that parents decide to change schools at the last minute or are unable to come to France, this fee is non-refundable (unlike the annual tuition fee).

If parents have received a positive response about admitting their child to a private school in France, they can begin applying for a student visa. After this, you can request from the school all the necessary documents for the visa dossier.

*Feel free to remind yourself if you have not received a response from the school administration: the French are very leisurely and perhaps additional notifications will speed up the process.

If you are interested in real estate in France and need help enrolling your child in school, contact Justreal specialists. We provide comprehensive assistance to our clients when purchasing real estate abroad and resolving issues in the country.

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