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French School Calendar 2018/19

'La rentrée scolaire' has started in France, with the return of a holiday for ascension, which was not granted last year.

The school year in France comprises 36 weeks of schooling, separated by 4 holiday periods.

At maternity and primary level the school week is either 4.5 days, with the half-day each Wednesday (in a small number of cases, Saturday morning), or 4 days long when Wednesday is free. Local councils can decide which arrangement they prefer.

Last year, around half opted for a 4-day week, and at least 80% will do so this year. Not only does it generate savings on school transport, but it makes it easier to organise extra-curricular activities (activités périscolaires) each Wednesday for the children, for which this year there is financial assistance from the government. These activities are planned in collaboration with local sports clubs and associations.

This means the school days are longer and holidays slightly shorter for those attending 4 days a week in order to comply with the minimum annual hours. The maximum permitted number of hours each week is 24 hours.

The concentration of school hours over a shorter week means that pupils on 4-day week attend school for 144 days a year, when the average in the OECD is 184 days.

Although the total hours in a 4-day week remain the same, primary school children in France undertake 864 hours of schooling, against an average of 776 in Europe.

At collège (lower secondary) and lycée (upper secondary) there are 5 days of schooling each week.

Details on the schools structure and the curriculum are available in our Guide to French School Education System

In the interests of traffic and tourism management the country is divided into different geographic zones for school term and holiday dates.

The primary aim of this division is to ensure that there is no negative impact on the economy of the ski resorts in the Alps.

Around 30% of the annual income from tourism in France is brought in by the ski resorts, which have suffered in recent years over the spring period by the positioning of school holiday dates at the end of April/beginning of May.

To deal with this problem in the past couple of years the spring holiday has been brought forward.

The following graphic shows the three zones:

  • Zone A - Orange
  • Zone B - Blue
  • Zone C - Green

  • The school calendar for 2018/19 for each of these zones is shown below. Those schools with no Saturday classes finish on the Friday.

    This year sees the return of the 'Pont de l'Ascension', a holiday period abandoned last year as it occurred two days after another holiday, the May 8th V-E Day celebrations.

    School Term and Holiday Dates 2018/19
    Holidays Zone A Zone B Zone C

    Besançon, Bordeaux,
    Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon,
    Grenoble, Limoges,
    Lyon, Poitiers
    Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen,
    Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes,
    Nice, Orléans-Tours, Reims,
    Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg
    Créteil, Montpellier, Paris,
    Toulouse, Versailles
    Start of School TermClasses start Monday 3rd Sept
    All Saints Holiday End of classes Saturday 20th Oct
    Classes return Monday 5th Nov
    Christmas HolidayEnd of classes Saturday 22nd Dec
    Classes return Monday 7th Jan
    Winter HolidayEnd of classes Saturday 16th Feb
    Classes return Monday 4th Mar
    End of classes Saturday 9th Feb
    Classes return Monday 25th Feb
    End of classes Saturday 23rd Feb
    Classes return Monday 11th March
    Spring HolidayEnd of classes Saturday 13th April
    Classes return Monday 29th April
    End of classes Saturday 6th April
    Classes return Monday 23rd April
    End of classes Saturday 20th April
    Classes return Monday 6th May
    End of classes Wed 29th May
    Classes return Mon 3rd June
    End of classes Wed 29th May
    Classes return Mon 3rd June
    End of classes Wed 29th May
    Classes return Mon 3rd June
    Summer HolidayEnd of classes Tuesday 6th July
    Classes return 2nd Sept

    Related Reading:

    This article was featured in our Newsletter dated 06/09/2018

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