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The 29 stationery items that schoolchildren in France (apparently) need

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
The 29 stationery items that schoolchildren in France (apparently) need
Ever wondered why French schoolkids have huge backpacks or wheeled cases? It's because of all the stationery. Photo by XAVIER LEOTY / AFP

Every summer, French supermarkets fill up with stationery to cater to the incredibly detailed list of items that schools send out to parents ahead of the new school year.


French children still have plenty of holiday time left before schools go back on Monday, September 4th, but if you have visited a supermarket recently you might have noticed the huge amounts of stationery on sale.

This is because of the list that parents get from their kids' schools each year.


In total the list - available online from the French government - runs to 29 items for primary school children, with extra items for pupils going to collège or lycée.



The full list is:

  • one large workbook (21cm by 29cm)
  • one small workbook (17cm by 22cm)
  • loose sheets of A4 size paper, both single and double
  • a music workbook
  • a rigid folder (A4 size)
  • a non-rigid folder (A4 size)
  • two protective covers for workbooks
  • transparent file pockets
  • a roll of plastic (for covering books)
  • four biros (blue, black, red and green)
  • pencils
  • 12 colouring pencils
  • 12 felt tipped pens
  • five tubes of coloured poster paint
  • an eraser
  • a correcter pen
  • one tube of glue
  • a roll of sellotape
  • one A4 folder with plastic pockets
  • one pencil case
  • three paintbrushes of differing sizes (numbers 6,10 and 14 or 4,10 and 16 are recommended)
  • one 30cm plastic ruler
  • a 12cm plastic protractor
  • a plastic set square
  • one pair of compasses (metal or plastic)
  • one pair of scissors with rounded ends
  • a pencil sharpener
  • a diary

The list has been put together by parents and teachers working together and apparently takes into account budget constraints and the weight of the child's schoolbag.

Low-income families get a grant to cover costs of the return to school, including buying all that stationery, which is distributed from Wednesday, August 16th - click here to find out how to apply.

But parents shouldn't be too concerned about being arrested by the stationery police if they don't have all the items on the list - which is described as a guideline rather than a rule.

Parents who have their second or third child starting school and have therefore been through this before will frequently tell you that they largely ignore 'the list'.  


Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2021/07/30 19:24
"four biros (blue, black, red and green)" I always wondered why the Bic 4-color pens I use were made in France (unlike other ballpoint pens). I see it's important there!

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