Une gomme, une cahier, la plume de ma tante
Parents are expected to purchase a number of items for their child’s classwork each year. A list of these can be obtained from the school or sometimes from the Mairie.
Typically they will include various stationery items and large and small bags for carrying homework and personal items. Unlike many schools in the UK, for example, there are no school uniforms in French state schools. Although this may in theory equate to a financial saving, in practice it often mean you have to work hard to persuade your child that fashion is not an essential requirement for a good education! At schools with sports programmes, parents will have to buy the necessary sports shoes and clothes. After primary school and college, parents should also expect to have to purchase text books for pupils entering lycée. This can become quite expensive, potentially amounting to €400 or more per year, however grants are available for low-income families.
La Rentrée, the return to school, is also a big marketing opportunity for supermarkets, clothing shops and other retailers. Unless you are in an extremely remote region of France you are unlikely to miss the aisles of pencil cases, multi-coloured pens, exercise books and back-packs that arrive in support of “La Rentree”. Nearly everything on the teacher’s list will be available in supermarkets or office supplies stores, but don’t wait too late!
School meals are provided by the school for a small fee, usually around €3.70. Meals are generally well balanced and usually cooked on the premises. Children are given three courses, usually a salad, a main course of pasta or meat and vegetables, followed by cheese or dessert. Children may also return home for lunch or take a packed lunch if preferred. Depending on your child’s age and appetite, they may wish to take a snack and/or drink for break times. School policy varies on what snack items children can bring to school.