5th September 2018
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An Expat Guide to International SchoolsIf you are moving to France with your family your final destination may be influenced by the proximity of a good international school. Most international schools cater for many different nationalities and, although lessons are generally taught in English, they tend to encourage their students to be bilingual, conversing comfortably in French and English.
Where to go for the Top International Schools
One of the most famous French international schools is the British School of Paris, a high-achieving school in the 16th arrondissement of Paris on the banks of the Seine. It has 700 students and over 60 languages are spoken here, making it a truly global learning environment in a prestigious location.
For families looking to settle away from the capital there are plenty of excellent alternatives. Unsurprisingly, many of them are located within popular expat regions and close to cities with international airports. These include one of the best international school in France, called Saint Denis in Loches which is recognised as a historic 'Ville d'art et d'histoire' in the Loire Valley, the International Bilingual School (IBS) of Provence which is just outside the sought-after town of Aix-en-Provence and within easy reach of Marseille.
Not far away on the Cote d’Azur there are two other highly reputable schools – Mougins School in the hills to the north of Cannes and west of Nice and the International School of Nice, another popular choice with expat residents on the French Riviera. ISN has students from 42 nationalities including British, American, French, Russian, Scandinavian, Italian, German, and Dutch.
South West France has one of the fastest growing expat communities in France and is home to a number of established international schools. One of the largest is the International School of Toulouse which has over 500 students from age 3 upwards.
The school is in Colomiers to the west of Toulouse and just 20 minutes from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport. Bordeaux International School is a smaller bilingual school with students from 25 nationalities and six continents. Lyon, a little further North, also has its own international school.
France has a number of private academies that teach an international curriculum alongside elite sports tuition. One of the best known is Mouratoglou tennis academy in the French Riviera, just 15 minutes from Nice International Airport. Here children can take advantage of more than 320 days of sunshine a year and 12 hectares of sports facilities to perfect their game without neglecting their studies.
Choosing your School
Applications to private schools in France should be made as far in advance of your move as possible. The enrolment process can take some time and the school may ask to see school reports and exam results. You will also want to visit and look round the school before committing to the application process.
It is also worth noting that most private and international schools in France are day schools rather than boarding. When you visit to look around an international school, ask about the curriculum, whether the examinations taken by students are recognised nationally or internationally (for example the international baccalaureate), the size of the classes, sporting and music facilities and what languages are spoken.
Finally, although fee information will be readily available, it is worth finding out what costs are involved in the application process, and start to plan how you may be able to save on currency.