SCHOOLING AND CHILD CARE
Moving to a new country impacts the whole family. That’s why our integration assistance extends to family members who will need to navigate a new environment, learn a new language and create their social networks.
DUAL CAREER SUPPORT
Our Dual Career Support program helps partners of new employees who wish to look for professional opportunities, but are unfamiliar with the French employment market. We help them explore their options depending on their interests; whether they be professional or otherwise; in education, entrepreneurship, volunteering, or all of the above.
General information on education in France
Schools and education are certainly among the most important factors for families moving to Grenoble with children. The location of the school could influence your decision on where to live and how to commute, and both choices will impact your family’s weekday routine. You will also want to consider a child’s age, sensitivities and special needs, their adaptability and interests, as well as the family’s values and goals.
Public schools with “international sections” are particularly attractive to many of Grenoble’s international residents. Certain schools at the elementary, college and lycée level offer instruction in English, German, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The international sections offer language instruction designed for students who are already competent in the language, as well as history and geography taught in the language of the section.
Entry to the sections is by examination, and spaces are limited: not all students who apply are admitted - even those with native fluency - especially in the English and Arabic sections. However, the potential option of free “international” schools remains one of the many advantages that Grenoble can offer its international newcomers.
While the international sections can be a tremendous advantage for many international families relocating to Grenoble, neighbourhood or “sector” schools also offer rich learning opportunities; especially, the chance for children to immerse themselves in a French environment and quickly become fluent in French language and culture.
Alternatively, some families may investigate the different private school options that may be able to better accommodate children who are more sensitive to change, have individual learning styles, special challenges or simply need more individual attention in making the transition to a new school environment.
School education is compulsory in France between the ages of three and 16. The schools are either state schools providing free education or private fee-based institutions.
The French school system is generally considered demanding and academically rigorous. There is a strong emphasis on mathematics, sciences, and languages, and less emphasis on the arts and sports. Children attend school from the age of three or even two, depending on the availability of places, which is one of the reasons that France has a higher percentage of working mothers than other European countries.
The school year lasts 36 weeks and runs from the beginning of September to the end of June or early July. Children are not promoted from one grade to the next unless they have completed the required work. In some cases, children repeat years, and in other cases, a child might skip a year. To attend public schools, students must enrol in the school designated for the area where they live. Parents must request a derogation fromthe local education authority (Inspection Académique) if they want a child to attend a school outside of the catchment area. This includes students who have been offered a place in an international section.
The school system is organised at the national level under the Ministry of National Education.
The curriculum is also decided at the national level and changes to the system are made frequently.
Schools are either public, or state schools providing free education, private fee-based schools under contract with the state (privé sous contrat), or completely independent private institutions with neither financial support nor pedagogical guidelines from the state (privé hors contrat).The fees at private schools can vary depending on the institution. However, the programme at schools under contract is set nationally and more or less the same for all.
Children for whom French is not their mother tongue are integrated into the normal school structure. In the framework of special measures for children who have recently arrived in France, French-as-a-second-language (FLE) classes are provided in certain schools.
You can find more detailed information by consulting the “Eduscol” pages (available in English, German and Spanish) on the website of the Ministry of Education: http://eduscol.education.fr/
The organisation of the school system
PRIMARY SCHOOL (age 3-11)
AGE during attendance
GRADE LEVEL in French
1st year: Petite Section
2nd year: Moyenne section
3rd year: Grande section
1st grade : cours préparatoire “CP”
2nd grade: cours élémentaire 1° année “CE1”
3rd grade: cours élémentaire 2° année “CE2”
4th grade: cours moyen1° année “CM1”
5th grade: cours moyen 2° année “CM2”
SECONDARY SCHOOL (age 11-18)
Lower Secondary School
6th grade: sixième
7th grade: cinquième
8th grade: quatrième
9th grade: troisième
Upper Secondary School
10th grade: seconde
11th grade: première
12th grade: terminale
Extracurricular programs: Periscolaire
Most schools offer day care facilities (called garderie) for before and after classes, and provide school lunches at the school canteen. These activities are typically managed by the local city or town hall, where registrations start in the summer or at the start of the school year. Some schools reserve the canteen facilities for children of families in which both parents are working.
Grenoble and surrounding cities also organize classes after school and for Wednesday afternoons in activities such as arts, crafts, and in many sports such as swimming, rock climbing, fencing, skiing, and track and field. Enrolment for these activities begins in the summer and is carried out by the town hall at the Antenne du Mairie or Maison des Habitants. Social centres, such as the centre aéré, Maison de Jeunesse (MJCs) or centre de loisirs also propose a variety of extracurricular activities and sometimes take charge of the children at the end of the school day. Note that city and town halls also offer classes for adults, and that registration is usually during the same period.
The school year
The school year runs from early September to early July. The country is divided into three zones which have different dates for the various school holidays, of which there are many. Grenoble is in zone A. There are three two-week holidays each year. The Toussaint holiday normally falls in October, end-of the-year holidays are in mid- December/January, winter holidays are in February/March, and the spring holiday in April/May. All of these are in addition to the two month summer holiday.
For dates of school holidays, consult the website of the Académie de Grenoble at https://www.ac-grenoble.fr.
All children attending school in France must have certain mandatory vaccinations. You can inquire with the head of the school, or with any doctor or pediatrician.
For further information (in French):
- Vaccination information service - https://vaccination-info-service.fr/
- PMI (Protection Maternelle et Infantile) – various pre-natal and post-partum services for mothers and children under 6 : https://www.isere.fr/sante#pmi
School children must be insured. At the beginning of each school year, schools ask students to provide proof of coverage. This type of insurance is usually included in your general house insurance cover (assurance multirisque habitation). It ensures that your child is covered when classes go on school trips or other activities organised by the school.
Schools in the Grenoble area
A searchable list of schools within the Grenoble education area is available on the website of the Académie de Grenoble.
Primary schools (maternelle and élémentaire): https://bv.ac-grenoble.fr/carteforpub/ecole
Secondary schools (collège and lycée): https://bv.ac-grenoble.fr/carteforpub/etab
Special rates may be available for students who commute by public transportation from outside from Grenoble. See Pack’ Transport in the Scolaire section ofthe Isere department websitehttps://carsisere.auvergnerhonealpes.fr/fr/scolaires/72:
Grenoble has several schools with international sections (IS) offering the opportunity to study in one of six languages in école élémentaire, collège and lycée. The language programs propose curriculum in German, English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, or Portuguese. Instruction is based not only on the language, but also on the culture and teaching methods of the partner country. The environment of the schools tends to be multicultural and international; in particular, in the schools that house multiple language sections.
These unique schools offer children from international families established in France an opportunity to integrate into the French school system whilst continuing bilingual and bicultural studies. At the same time, the IS offers French children who have returned from living overseas, or who have the necessary motivation and language skills, the opportunity to develop these skills in a bilingual and bicultural environment.
The standards are known to be high and the school day is longer than in conventional schools. Students can start school in an international section from the first year of primary (CP ) and continue to the last year of lycée (terminale). Students must pass exams to be admitted into the international section of an elementary school, collège or lycée. Students enrolled in an IS are taught the core syllabus as well as advanced classes taught in the language of the international section, and therefore have three to six more hours of school per week than students in conventional schools. Note that not all students with native fluency pass the entrance tests.
Hours of instruction
At least 3 hours a week in the section language
Lower secondary schools (Collèges) & general upper secondary schools (Lycées d’enseignement général
Language and literature of the section country
5 to 7 hours a week, including 4 on top of the normal timetable
4 hours a week in place of the usual history-geography provision, with 2 hours taught in the section language
International Sections available in Grenoble: German, English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
To apply to an IS, students must submit an application and take an exam to show they have the necessary competence in the language of the section. Spaces are limited, especially in the English and Arabic sections.
Primary schools in Grenoble with international sections:
Public or state schools
Ecole Jules Ferry: English section (CP-CE2 in 2018) - Tel. 04 76 44 71 88 - https://ecole-jules-ferry-grenoble.web.ac-grenoble.fr/
École Jean Jaurès : Italian section- 04 76 46 41 80 -
Private primary schools with foreign language programs:
- École Notre Dame is a small, private Catholic school in the mountain setting of St Martin D’Uriage (about 20 minutes from Grenoble). The school offers a programme for fluent English speakers as well as English classes for French speakers. There are classes from the first year of nursery school (age 2 or 3) through CM2 (age 9 or 10). www.ecolenotredame-uriage.fr/en/
- École Montessori Internationale Positive School, in Gières offers a bilingual program (French/English) and a Montessori approach to schooling children ages 3-12. The program focuses on helping children build self-confidence, autonomy and creativity while remaining aligned with the national French curriculum. http://www.positiveschool.fr/fr/
- Les Voyelles Colorées: a Montessori school in Meylan offering a bilingual program (French/English) to children ages 3 – 6. http://www.lesvoyellescolorees.com/home-1
Secondary schools with international sections:
- The Cité Scolaire Internationale Europole (Collège and Lycée)
Arabic, English, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish
CSI, also known as Europole, brings together all of the international sections for the continuum of the language and literature instruction that is offered in the primary schools with international sections. CSI is comprised of a College and Lycée, which together enrol approximately 1200 students of as many as 50 different nationalities. All of the students, both French and foreign are proficient in one of the six languages creating an environment that is both international and multicultural. Each section follows the French education ministry curriculum, with an additional six hours of language and literature instruction and 2-4 hours of history and geography, at both the collège and lycée levels.
CSI prepares students for the following French diplomas:
- The BFI Baccalauréat Français International at the end of high school (age 17-18) for each of the six sections. (The BFI will replace the OIB - Option Internationale du Baccalauréat - for the classes starting premiere in September 2022)
- L’ABIBAC & l’ESABAC, bi-national degrees recognized in Germany and Italy
4 place de Sfax
(04 38 12 25 00)
- Collège Lucie Aubrac
A new addition to Grenoble, the College Lucie Aubrac opened its doors in January 2022 in the Villenueve quarter. It adds a second option for an International section with an intensive English programme. Entrance to the British section is by examination and the applications are accepted through the same process as CSI which can be found on the school website (above).
- Lycée André Argouges
Lycée Argouges is a large public high school housing a diversity of specialized programs in preparation for general and technological baccalaureate, several professional degrees and qualifications, as well as post Baccalaureate programs. The ABIBAC program allows students to earn a dual Baccalaureat General / German abiteur (allgemeine Hochschulreife). The American section prepares students for a Baccalaureat Français International. Contributing to this diversity is the presence of musicians and artists with parallel studies at the nearby Conservatoire de Grenoble and athletes combining studies with intensive sports.
Bac General – numerous specialties (mathematics, sciences, literature, politics, languages, humanities…)
ABIBAC bi-national degree recognized in Germany
BFI Bac International Français – American English - replaces the OIB (Option Internationale du Baccalauréat) for the classes starting premiere in September 2022
Bac Technologique: Science and Technology of Design and Applied Arts, Laboratory Sciences and Technologies, Creation and Culture Design
Bac Professionnel (Bac Pro/CAP for specific trades)
Other secondary schools with foreign language programs:
- The American School of Grenoble
ASG (consisting of junior and senior high school levels, or collège and lycée) is a non-profit private school situated in the Cité Scolaire Internationale; however, it is a separate entity and accommodates children of any nationality. The school follows an American curriculum with classes taught in English. Many of the students have arrived in Grenoble from the United States and other countries to which they intend to return after a limited stay in Grenoble. Tuition is much higher than most private schools in France, but lower than many private schools in the United States. See the website for more information www.americanschoolgrenoble.com/
Important: once enrolled in either CSI Europole or ASG, children are not allowed to change between the two schools, due to a convention with the national education system. It is not possible to enrol a student in ASG and then transfer to CSI or vice versa. Moving from one system to the other is only possible for entrance in the first year of lycée (classe seconde).
- Le Rondeau - Montfleury is a private Catholic institution in Corenc (about 15 minutes from Grenoble). Located in a verdant, mountain environment, it is comprised of an école maternelle, école élémentaire and a collège. Beginning at the collège level, the school offers a program for fluent English speakers from sixième to troisième (ages 10 to 14).
Day care for children over 3 years
If you need day care for your children on Wednesdays or after school during the school year, you can enroll them for a full or half a day in one of Grenoble’scentres de loisirs also known as centres aérés. The centers organise different types of activities and outings for children between 3 and 14. For more information, consult the Association des Centres de Loisirs (ACL) website: https://acl-grenoble.org/
Day care for children under 3 years old
Day nurseries (Halte-garderie - occasional or part-time attendance) and crèches (regular attendance)
Public centres, or EAJE (Établissement d’accueil des jeunes enfants), cater to children aged 3 months to 3 years; their cost varies and is calculated based on household income.
There are two types of crèche:
- Crèches collectives: provide regular day care for children whose parents work
- Crèches parentales: run by parent groups that volunteer at the crèche alongside qualified staff.
For more information, contact your nearest Caisse d'Allocations Familiales and town hall for a list of the local facilities.
Private Micro crèches has become commonplace in Grenoble. They are private childcare centres and tend to have places readily available, but at higher rates than the public centres.
Registered child minders
Childminders, or assistantes maternelles, are qualified to look after one or more children in their homes or in the parents' homes; they are employed directly by the parents.
Contact your local town hall orRelais Assistantes Maternelles(RAM) for more information (list of child minders in your area, costs, contracts, financial support, etc.).
To search for a list of RAM in Grenoble, enter ‘Relais Assistantes Maternelles’ on the Guide des lieux et des équipements section of the town hall website: https://www.grenoble.fr/137-guide-des-lieux-et-des-equipements.htm
You can often find ads for babysitters in local shops or posted near schools, or on the English language Facebook page, Grenoble Life.
The student services organization, CROUS , also post student jobs:
CROUS (Centre Régional des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires)
5, rue d'Arsonval
Tel.: 0810 064 069
Higher education in Grenoble
The Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA) is the largest institution of higher education in Grenoble. Grenoble is also home to L'Institut polytechnique de Grenoble (INP), one of France’s first-tier engineering schools, comprised of six different “grandes écoles” for engineering:
- Ense3 : energy, water, environment
- Ensimag : IT, applied mathematics and telecommunication
- Esisar : advanced systems and networks
- Génie industriel: conception of products or services, management of production and logistics
- Pagora : paper science, print communication and biomaterials
- Phelma : physics, electronics, and materials
UGA and INP are both members of the GIANT partnership, which was set up to foster stronger links between research, higher education and industry. The GIANT network includes not only the public universities but also the Grenoble School of Management (GEM), French research institutions and European research laboratories, including the ILL.
For more information consult: