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Moving to France With Young Children

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 9 Mar 2018 | comments*Discuss
Friends Schools Diet Confidence

Moving to France with young children is an exciting opportunity for you all.

To make the most of this adventure, you will need to be prepared act confidently and step outside your comfort zone.

As you are planning your new life in France, you will probably be aware of the changes in culture, expectation and behaviour of French children. Many British parents are pleased that their children are positively influenced by French children, with their standard of life increasing as a result.

There are a number of areas where the French system is considered more impressive than the UK equivalent, such as school standards, diet and confidence.

School Standards

French schooling is, in some ways, very different to the UK. The similarities are that children study for exams, progress through the educational system and are encouraged to go onto further education. However, the day-to-day behaviour of both French teachers and French schoolchildren is markedly different, with many expat parents saying that French schooling is stricter.

This is often appreciated, though, as more and more UK parents believe that schools focus on the less able or the more disruptive children, with the quieter or more able children not being challenged. There are also concerns that ‘best practice’ has gone too far in the UK, with crying children not being able to be comforted, for example.

This is not the case in French schools – indeed, some parents believe it is a little too strict, although this seems to gain better results overall and makes the children more self-sufficient. The school day often begins early, with breakfast available.

Children are expected to listen, sit quietly and get on with their work, even from a young age. Creativity is still encouraged. Teachers are allowed to chastise and comfort children, with the French view that the teachers are ‘looking after’ the children instead of the parents during the school day.


French children also have a long lunch break. Some children go home for a meal with their families, although many stay at school. Here, they are given a well balanced, often three course meal. Proper cutlery and plates are common, with the teachers enjoying the same meal as the pupils. This helps to educate your children into the French way, habits that will no doubt be encouraged at home.

You may find that children you know in the UK are gaining weight year on year, with a high saturated fat diet and very little exercise. Living in France, your child will have the benefit of a more outdoorsy life, thanks to the milder climate, and a more rounded view and appreciation of good food, instilled from an early age at school.


A wonderful by product of the stricter schooling in France is the increased confidence naturally found in French children. Perhaps this is sometimes seen as the arrogance of some French people, but compared to the self-doubt and confidence issues faced by many young Britons, perhaps it is the better option.

French children are encouraged to think for themselves, to value their own opinions and to take care of themselves, both by their parents and in school. Confidence is a wonderful characteristic for young people to have, as it will increase their opportunities as an adult, so moving to France with your children is a great way to set them on a positive path.

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Am strongly considering moving to France from the UK next year with my wife (who is a French citizen) We have three kids between us (one from a previous relationship) I don't know the language and work long shift hours including evening and a weekends . These alternate My two main worries are learning the language (I will read books and speak more French with my wife ) My skills as in I have an admin media job not sure if my skills can be transferred over . Is there any sites or place that can give advice on this ?
Peter77 - 2-Aug-16 @ 12:16 PM
We are just waiting to hear back about an offer on a house just outside st sivinian in Charente and the only thing that concerns me is my daughters education. We don't plan to move until july next year giving us enough time to cram in some French language learning for us and our daughter so that we can communicate to a good level.Our son is staying at home at university but our daughter will be 10, nearly 11. She is very confident but I worry that a new school and effectively becoming an 'only child' at home will be too much. It won't stop us coming but I have 14 months to make our move as easy as possible, any advice? Thank you all in advance
Mrs G - 7-Apr-16 @ 2:45 PM
After reading the above paragraphs "moving to France with young children" I have to completely disagree with the comments. I moved to France last August with my 4 children the eldest being 13 now and the youngest 4 . School standards I believe are sadly lax here my older children spend much of their college days in a class were they can catch up with homework and generally pass time as there is no teaching available , there has never been a full week were they attend the full week at college . My youngest Is the most advanced in her class !it soon became apparent that children Upto the age of 6 are treat very much like babies with comfort blankets and dummies both in and out of school , they are made to sleep for an hour after lunch which is very difficult when my 4 year old tells me she gets shouted at because she wnt go to sleep ! I believe children appear healthier than the English children because the lunch meals are horrendous and basically the children dnt eat , school packed lunches are not allowed so unfortunately unless you have 2 hours to spare everyday to bring your children home for lunch you have no option than to let them stay ! My children take a snack just to keep them going and are ravenous by the time I collect them ! In general French people are ignorant and pass the same lack of manners onto their children and school queues are none existent ! I tell my children just because we live in France you still keep and use your manners that were impeccable in England . I speak the truth from my personal experience here of French schooling . On the plus side my children in this short space of time can speak French and despite the schools not being what I hoped we are all settled in many other areas of life here and being here understand we have to fit in with the French way of life were we can difficult as it may be . I would also like to say I have made some of the best friends here and have no regrets at all moving here .
Debs - 7-Mar-16 @ 1:12 PM
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