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French School Calendar 2019/20

Tuesday 10 September 2019

'La rentrée scolaire' has started in France, so what are the school term and holiday dates this 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. Most choose the 4-day week.

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/elementary) 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 2019/20 for each of these zones is shown below. Those schools with no Saturday classes finish on the Friday. There is no holiday for Ascension, which falls on Thursday 21st May, although it is expected that many families will 'faire le pont'. 

    School Term and Holiday Dates 2019/20
    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 Term
    (La Rentrée)
    Classes start Monday 2nd Sept
    All Saints Holiday
    End of classes Saturday 19th Oct
    Classes return Monday 4th Nov
    Christmas Holiday
    End of classes Saturday 21st Dec
    Classes return Monday 6th Jan
    Winter Holiday
    End of classes Saturday 22nd Feb
    Classes return Monday 9th Mar
    End of classes Saturday 15th Feb
    Classes return Monday 2nd Mars
    End of classes Saturday 8th Feb
    Classes return Monday 24th Feb
    Spring Holiday
    End of classes Saturday 18th April
    Classes return Monday 4th May
    End of classes Saturday 11th April
    Classes return Monday 27th April
    End of classes Saturday 4th April
    Classes return Monday 20th April
    Summer Holiday
    End of classes Tuesday 4th July
    Classes return Tuesday 1st Sept

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