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Childcare and Education in Paris

An estimated 2.25 million people are currently living in Paris, the “most romantic place on Earth”. Are you about to join them? The InterNations expat guide to Paris provides you with all the info you need on climate, leisure, transportation, childcare, and schooling.
Sorbonne University is renowned around the globe, but Paris also has many international schools.

Preparing for Going to School

Although compulsory education starts at the age of six, most French children attend the école maternelle (kindergarten) from the age of three. There are several state-sponsored daycare options for even younger children, e.g. the crèche collective or the crèche familiale, catering for children aged from three months to three years.

The crèche collective is a form of kindergarten with up to 30 toddlers being looked after by eight to ten professional childcare employees between the hours of 07:30 to 18:30.

crèche familiale usually refers to an arrangement where one to four children are taken care of by a nanny in her home, thus offering more flexible hours. Means-tested financial support is available for all forms of public childcare. For more information on childcare facilities in and around Paris, please consult the website of Allocations Familiales or take a look at our article on childcare in France.

The French Education System in Paris

French state schools don't charge tuition fees and are open to every child legally residing in France. Typically, French schoolchildren start their academic career in école élémentaire, then proceed to the local collège and, in most cases, to a lycée.

The first two kinds of school have a catchment area, meaning that they only have to accept pupils living in their “community”. Parents who wish to send their children to a school outside of their catchment area need to contact their local mayor’s office. The mayor’s office also provides information on which communities are served by certain schools.

The staff will issue a certificate of inscription, which subsequently needs to be presented at the school, together with proofs of identity and residence and an up-to-date vaccination certificate. Parents can easily find their local mairie on the internet if they know the number of their arrondissement. For example, the website of the arrondissement du Louvre (#1) can be found under

For detailed information on the French school system, please consult the website of the Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de la Jeunesse et de la Vie associative or check out our InterNations guide to education in France. A list of Parisian state schools and related information can be found the respective website of the Mairie de Paris.

Another Option: International Education

Most international schools in France are located around Paris and Strasbourg. There are two types of private schools in France, sous contrat and hors contrat. As the name suggests, the former have signed a “contract” with the French government, committing them to the national curriculum and to French civic values such as personal liberty and equality. In return, they receive financial support from the state.

Schools hors contrat have greater liberty in their admission and teaching policies, and they also charge higher tuition fees due to the lack of state funding. International schools can be either sous or hors contrat, and sometimes even a mixture of both.

International and National Schools in Paris

Below is a brief list of some of the most popular international as well as national schools in and around Paris:


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