Wednesday, September 2, 2015

C'est La Rentree!! It's Back to School in France 2015

The beginning of another School Year in France!!

Yesterday marked the beginning of this school year for my girls.  For each of them, new adventures, new things to learn and a time to see their friends again after the summer holidays!  In France, I have to say it's more common that families go away together or go visit relatives for the majority of the summer - so other than summer camp, the girls don't see too many of their friends over the summer months.

Only one of them, my middle daughter (11 years old) has changed schools.  She's very excited this year to make the transition from elementary school or Primaire as they call it here to college or middle school, as she enters 6eme (6th grade equivalent).  She will join her older sister at the same private catholic middle school here locally.  The middle school's here are 4 years, so incorporate 3eme (or 9th grade).  This allows my oldest daughter and middle daughter to be in the same school.  They haven't been together since we first moved here 4 years ago.

La Rentree is an exciting time for French students - unlike in the States where one knows their classes and teachers ahead of time - it's a big surprise here on the first day of school.  Class schedules, teachers and everything else is revealed then.
For my youngest, she's in CE2 (3rd grade).  For the first day of school in France, parents escort their child to school and for one of few times during the year - parents & children are welcomed into the courtyard.  On the side wall are the class lists and sections.  Each year depending on numbers in each class, there are solid one-level sections and also combined 2 level sections.  This year, my daughter is in a one-level section having 2 teachers - the director of the school, along with another teacher 2 days a week, while the director is doing administrative days.  She was happy to see her friends again and pleased with her teachers.  The Director opens the day with a welcome to all - introduces the teachers and then reads the class lists.  The teachers then take their respective classes to their she goes...another school year has begun - and the parents file back out of the school courtyard.  All of this happens in about 10 minutes.  It's nice to see the other parents again - although many, like myself were in a hurry to move on to work.
For our college, they choose to have each class start separately with partial days over the first two for each level - yesterday was 6eme & 4 eme (6th & 8th) - today was 5 eme & 3eme (7th& 9th).  This meant that my older 2 girls started a day apart. There is then a day of school orientation for the 6eme level which will be held tomorrow and officially all classes at all levels start on Friday morning.

It's a bit complicated and not at all like the American schools where when you start - you begin fully and you have been given your classes and teachers ahead of time.  I  think this makes it a bit hard to prepare and organize ahead of time but because this first week is slow - it does allow students to ease into the start of the year.

We did get the classroom supply list ahead of time, and that does ease some anxiety in the preparation process.  However, I have to add that in France the school supply list is very specific and often very long.  They have many different kinds of notebooks, sizes and types of very much depends on the teacher as to what each of them want and what kinds of pens, agendas, white board and glue...  We are slowly mastering this process as we start each new year.  I have finally learned many of the specific terms for school supplies - Like a "Lutin" is a notebook of clear plastic folders designed to place sheets of paper in.  Then there is the difference between the Cahier de Text & l'Agenda.  The former being a simplified daily assignment book for younger students.  
Because of this tapered start, it gave each of my older daughters an extra day off during this first week.  For my middle daughter, she started yesterday, but had today off.  This allowed me to spend the morning with her - as we ran final errands - like getting her public bus/tram pass and picking up any last minute items.   Always fun to have some special one on one time with each one of them.

We managed to get our school supply shopping done in early August and had time to find the "perfect" backpack for back to school.  My older girls each chose Eastpaks -and my youngest an adorable "Little Marcel" backpack.  In this sense - finding the right back pack and also a few new outfits for "Back to School"/La Rentree - France is very similar to the States. 

As we all had a busy summer traveling - I thought it would be lovely to take the final weekend in August and just rest and relax.  Rejuvenate- before the start of the school year.  Instead of just staying home, we headed out to our new favorite Chambre d'Hotes located near Agen (about an hour from here) - La Larroquinere (I wrote a post on this guest house -here .  The have a lovely pool, beautiful open space for meandering around - plenty of animals to enjoy - dogs, cats, chickens, sheep etc...and various amusements for families (ping-pong, trampoline etc..)

It turned out to be a beautiful HOT and sunny weekend and we so appreciated being able to enjoy a cool pool.  It was nice to disconnect from the Internet, relax out in the open sun and just enjoy some family time!!
I would certainly consider that plan again, as I know it did all of us some good.  It was a great time to relax and reconnect. I felt very refreshed upon our return to the city on Sunday afternoon.  The girls still had one more day to begin organizing.  For me - Monday the 31st of August marked my return to work.  Yes, I do work part-time, but often the days I work are long or blocked together - but so fun!!  It was nice to begin with some great energy after the summer vacation and the final weekend away!

These final 2 collages are from Google's new application of  "Revisit this day".  It's fun to see their old back to school outfits, smiles and hairstyles.  How much they have changed, how much they have grown!  Gone are the years of preschool or maternelle - this family now has 2 middle schoolers and one daughter right in the middle of Elementary school.  Where does the time go?  How fast they their styles and their smiles!!

Bonne Courage everyone who has their Rentree or Back to School happening now!!  It's a time of excitement and a time of nostalgia.  The years press on...each one starting with the renewed excitement of an new year to come!!  I would love to hear about your Back to School routine if you have one.

This post has also been included in a wonderful linkup with other bloggers who share posts - All About France.  Click on the badge below to check out other great writers

Lou Messugo


  1. oh la rentrée! I linked up an old post I did on it a few years ago as it's such an important time of year in France. We only got the supplies list on Tuesday, the first day of term which meant I had to rush to Carrefour yesterday and was left with the dregs! But it's done! All the papers filled in again for the squillionth time and both boys at school. The house is so quiet! Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

    1. My pleasure to link up...I love your monthly link ups!! Yes - even though I thought we had most things, still need to go out this weekend and get a few more....But yes, like your house - it's quiet - at least from 8:30 to 4! Bon Weekend!

  2. Fabulous post, I love reading about the differences with things like school life etc. Ours was no different this year to last, both still in primary school and so therefore only one teacher (with assistants) but am very excited as my nephew has started high school so I wonder what stories he will come back with! You have a lovely family and the photos are superb! Coming to you via All About France x

    1. Leila - Thanks for commenting and the lovely compliments - Always so nice to hear from readers. My blog has become my labor of love and it's becoming a great way to document our expat experience and at the same time share it for others. Come back and visit anytime. Thanks again and Bon Weekend!!

  3. Very hectic for us as we just moved from Portugal last Friday to La Rochelle. La principale was very kind to meet with me and my son just one day before the official rentree. The supplies were bought on Wednesday in Intermarche, all huge paperwork done! All the work for la rentree is done!!!

    1. Glad to hear that you are settling in... Yes, that was very kind of the Director to meet with you and your son right before school started - hopefully his first few days went well. I do like that they do ease the kids into the first week - helps with the new routine. Bonne Rentree to you and your family. Thanks for commenting - so nice to hear from you!

  4. I also wrote about Le Rentrée on my #AllAboutFrance entry ... now I am chuckling at the fact that the aisle that was crammed full of school supplies just a few short weeks ago is now full of wines for La Foire aux Vins!!


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