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LIVING IN FRANCE

Energy bills, remote working and ‘coup’ phrases: 6 essential articles for life in France

What you can expect from your energy bills in France in 2023, how serious winter blackout warnings actually are, remote working in France and a word with multiple meanings - here are six essential articles for life in France.

Energy bills, remote working and 'coup' phrases: 6 essential articles for life in France

France’s freeze on gas prices comes to an end at the end of 2022, while the four percent cap on electricity price rises also expires – however the government has now announced the price caps for 2023.

We’ve done sole calculations and figured out what the new price rates will mean for your monthly energy bills.

EXPLAINED: What your French energy bills will look like in 2023

Now, we don’t want to put a downer on your day, but blackouts are a distant possibility in the months ahead.

RTE – the independent, electricity system operator of France – has laid out what a worst-case scenario might actually entail, and what would need to happen before we reach that point.

Revealed: The worst-case scenario for blackouts this winter in France

More possible bad news, we’re afraid. Travellers planning a trip between France and the UK in 2023 are likely to face ‘massive disruption’ caused by a combination of the EU’s new digital visa system and the UK government’s unwillingness to work in a constructive manner with French or EU leaders, a former British ambassador to France has warned.

Fears of ‘massive disruption’ of travel between France and UK in 2023

Modern technology means that many jobs can be done from anywhere in the world with only a laptop and a decent wifi connection – but what are the rules if you are working remotely in France for a company back in your home country?

Because this is a relatively recent phenomenon, it’s not always easy to find information on this – so from immigration paperwork to taxes, here’s what you need to know.

Working remotely from France: What are the rules for foreigners?

Let’s set about improving the mood. Are you looking for something to do now the nights are drawing in? Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in France – here’s our pick of the festivals and events around the country in September, October and November.

Fall festivals: What’s on around France in autumn 2022

French is a difficult language to pick up. We know. Understanding is not helped by the fact, for example, that there is one four-letter word that pops up repeatedly, in a bewildering array of different meanings. So, here’s our definitive guide to getting to grips with ‘coup’.

Love to luck – 21 different ways the French use the word ‘coup’

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EDUCATION

Fees to class sizes – what you need to know about private schools in France

In many countries, private schools are the preserve of the wealthy elite, but France has a wide network of private schools that are well within the financial reach of ordinary families - James Harrington explains more.

Fees to class sizes - what you need to know about private schools in France

The education system in France has its problems – at the start of the new school year some 4,000 teaching posts were unfilled and the government has launched an ‘emergency plan’ for English language lessons – but there’s no doubting there are wonderful schools and wonderful teachers making every effort to ensure children from aged three to 18 get the education they deserve.

However the country also has a sizeable network of private schools and around 15 percent of French children go to a private school. While some are undoubtedly expensive and elite, others are surprisingly affordable and provide an extra option for parents when deciding on  a school for their children.

Here’s what you need to know; 

Different types

There are two types of private school – sous contrat and hors contrat.

Sous contrat schools, of which there are about 7,500 in France, are part-funded by the state – teachers are paid by the Department of Education, for example – but also charge fees. France’s numerous Catholic schools, or regional language schools are usually sous contrat.

Hors contrat schools – which number about 2,500 – must still meet general education requirements but can choose their teaching methods and have no state funding. Private international schools found in most big cities, such as the American School of Paris, are hors contrat, but still follow mainstream teaching methods.

For comparison, there are around 60,000 state schools in France.

Prices

Yes, there are expensive private schools in France. Sending your child to the exclusive Ecole des Roches Private Boarding School, for example, will set you back more than €12,000 a term – not quite Eton or Winchester-level fees, but still well out of the reach of a large portion of the population. But, like Eton and Winchester, they’re not the norm. 

On average, fees for a day pupil – one who goes home at the end of the school day, rather than one who boards at the school – are in the region of around €2,250 a year. Meals are not included, and are generally charged at a slightly higher daily price than at state schools.

Financial aid, including scholarships, may be available for less well-off families.

READ ALSO French school canteens to cut cheese course as inflation bites

Boarding and hours

A large number of state and private schools offer Monday-Thursday boarding. It is not uncommon for pupils who excel at certain subjects or sports to attend collèges or lycées some distance from home, and board during the week.

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Daily school hours, meanwhile, are broadly similar, with children generally starting their school day at around 8am and finishing soon after 4pm on school days. Collège and lycée pupils also go into school on Wednesday mornings, and some may have classes on a Saturday, too.

Popularity

Smaller class sizes and a reputation for “better” results means that private schools are increasingly popular. The number of French private schools has increased steadily over the last decade, and now 15-20 percent of pupils go to a private establishment of some form. 

On the whole, private schools tend to do better in results league tables – perhaps in part because of the additional investment from parents, but also because class sizes tend to be smaller, which allows for more one-to-one education. Smaller class sizes and more individual attention mean they may also be a better option for children who struggle in big schools.

READ ALSO What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Qualifications

State schools and sous contrat schools teach to the national curriculum, which leads, in turn, to brevet and baccalaureate qualifications.

In contrast, some hors contrat private schools offer different qualifications, including American High School Diplomas and SATs, British GCSEs and A-Levels, or the international baccalaureate.

Religion

Although many sous contrat schools are Catholic, most readily accept non-Catholic children and are not allowed to indoctrinate the Catholic faith. Hors contrat schools, on the other hand, may include a religious element to their teaching.

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