Educating Your Kids In France
When we moved to France in 1994 our daughter was just about to turn nine years old. She vehemently protested our taking her out of her secure home, school and away from friends. We assured her: “Paris isn’t prison! If we don’t like it, we’ll simply return to Los Angeles.”
She believed us, but we believed it too. Ten years later we’re still here. Recently, when someone asked her how it was those first two years in Paris, she quickly replied, “It was awful!” Looking back on it now, she will also tell you that it was the best thing that every happened to her. She is completely bilingual, bicultural and profited from the French education system — which put her academically light years ahead of her American compatriots starting university.
Before moving, we came on a fact-finding mission and visited two schools we felt were candidates — we chose a private bilingual school with an “adaptation” program for non-French-speaking kids. The following year we chose to move her to a free state-run school with an international bilingual program. In this program, one-fourth of the classes were taught in English by native English-speaking professors. Our fourth year in Paris we moved to another part of the city and enrolled her in a public school in the neighborhood with a small student body (only 300 students), where she was the only “double American” (both parents American). All classes were in French. She later went on to a public high school and graduated with the French Baccalauréat degree, internationally well-respected.
There are many international and bilingual schools in and around Paris, public (state run) and private. State-run schools are free and run by the ministry of education, which sets guidelines for the curriculum. If you decide to send your child to a state school, you must contact the “Service des Ecoles” at the “Mairie” (city hall) of your residential district.
Private schools are either “sous contrat” (the government pays the teachers’ salaries and the school follows the national curriculum and schedule) or “hors contrat” (not subsidized by the government). Schools which are “sous contrat” ask parents to pay a relatively modest annual fees. Those “hors contrat” have annual fees that average much higher and can run well over 10,000 Euros. In and around Paris, there are several American or British establishments where the curriculum is the same as in the country of origin.
One of the mistakes we made when choosing a school before moving to Paris was not making an effort to live closer to the school. Taking our daughter across town to the bilingual school by Métro and bus, was a 45 minute trip each way. Add up round trips and that equates to three hours a day spent on public transportation. If I had to do it over again, I would have chosen a different school or different location to live.
A rather complete listing of schools and more information on education in France is available at the U.S. Embassy Web site at http://www.amb-usa.fr/consul/guideoas/schools.htm
In today’s Paris Property Picks, we chose properties in close proximity to some of these schools.
Happy 4th of July!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]
P.S. A few special notes to readers…
This month’s column of Q’s and A’s by Jean Taquet is dedicated to “…all those foreigners who have come to France and managed to build their own businesses successfully. Unlike the US, France is not set up to promote self-enterprise, and it is naive, I feel, to believe the current French government when it states that it will greatly facilitate creating businesses, hiring employees and investing money.” Jean is “…often feel blessed to witness the smaller-scale success stories of people who come to France – known to be a country that gives few chances to newcomers – and who manage to put down roots all by themselves, often financing projects just on their own money, which often means on a shoestring.”
Be sure to read his column in its entirety by clicking on /parlerparis/practicalanswers.html and lucky for us, Jean Taquet will be with us in Washington, DC for the Living and Investing in France Conference this coming September to talk at length about how one has the right to live and work in France. No one does this better!
A special congratulations goes to Jen Stevens (and her husband Patrick), author of the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Course and Director of the annual Paris Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop on the birth of their second son, Henry j2999eph Stevens, born this past Monday. For all those who attended the recent workshop and watched Jen teach while in full belly, you’ll be happy to know mother and child are well. To send Jen a message, email her at [email protected]
I stand to be corrected from Wednesday’s Parler Paris Previews opening article: Le Loiret is department 45, not 48 (slip of the typewriter key). And one outraged Expat reader who has lived here many years corrected me on ground beef: “…it’s ILLEGAL for a butcher to display ground beef for sale (hygiene regulations, of course). If the customer orders “boeuf haché,” the butcher, or his first apprentice, must take a hunk of beef, cut off a suitable piece, grind it up right there and then, weigh it and pa
it up. By the way, in the 1980s, whether or not a hypermarché could legally pre-grind and pre-pack beef was front page news, for weeks and weeks and weeks. By law, in the hypers, at the time, a full-time butcher had to be present, at all times, even though the meat was prepackaged (usually by him, in the work area behind a thick glass pane).” Thanks to all of you for keeping me on the straight and arrow.
I also learned from a reader that there is another country music venue in Paris — This weekend, July 2 – 4, and every 4th of July weekend for the past few years, there has been the City of Light French National Country Western Dance Competition in Paris. It will be held at the Palais des Sports Gabriel Peri, 19 Rue Gabriel Peri. A contact point, should you want further information, is Brigitte Zerah, +33(0) 188.8.131.52.48.
The Office de Tourisme de Paris heard my cries for what’s on in Paris for the 4th and learned that this may be the perfect time to come to France to start a search for your new pied-à-terre — they’re celebrating the Fourth of July this year by treating American visitors like VIP’s. Under the theme “Experience the passion of Paris!,” they will give away free chocolate and champagne, upgrade your hotel room and offer special meals and cocktails. There are some 247 discount deals with 15 to 50% savings in all hotel price ranges, from one and two stars to three stars and luxury four stars. There are also discounts on B & Bs, apartment hotels, and furnished apartments. For more information, visit
Each week Paris Property Picks features a range of properties which we believe are on the market at the time of writing. These properties are featured in order to give readers a sample of what is currently available and a working example of prices being asked in various districts of Paris. As we are not a real estate agency, these properties do not constitute a sales listing. For those readers seriously interested in finding property in Paris or France, you can retain our services to do the whole thing for you. For more information, visit /frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html
or contact Jocelyn Carnegie at [email protected]
*** PARIS 17th PEREIRE
2 room apartment of 41m2. 6th floor of recent building with a lift. Entrance, living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, WC. Well laid out space, light, quiet open view. Cellar. Balcony/Terrace.
Asking Price: 250,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
*** PARIS 17th ETOILE
3 rooms of 43m2 on avenue MacMahon with a view of the Arc de Triomphe. In a 1900 building on 5th floor with a lift and balcony. Entrance, living room, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and WC. Cellar. To renovate.
Asking Price: 251,540 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
*** PARIS 17th VILLIERS
76m2 3rd floor apartment on avenue de Villiers. 4 rooms near Park Monceau and Les Hesperides. 2 bedrooms, double living space, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, balcony/terrace. Concierge. Good condition.
Asking Price: 360,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
*** PARIS 17th RUE DES DAMES
21m2 studio on 3rd floor. Open beams and entirely renovated. Parquet floors and fireplace. Bathroom.
Asking Price: 120,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee