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La Rentrée in France – you need to Live it !

So it’s another ‘la rentrée’ in France and having lived here for 25 years and having 2 children, I have lived the ‘rentrée’ 20 times and it never ceases to amaze me.  It’s almost like another ‘New Year’ with many people making new objectives whilst preparing for this ‘new school year’.

This is also the time of year that we start receiving our tax d’habitation, tax foncière …… but more about that later!

Going back to school in September is a big event in France.  Despite the fact that we, the parents and adults get rarely more than a couple of weeks off from our professional activities, the children have an amazing 9 weeks.  So for many parents it’s with a big sigh of relief that the famous ‘rentrée’ is approaching!  At the end of June each year, I personally think I will never get through the logistics of these 9 weeks and every year I do.  And every year, those 9 weeks just go faster and faster ……….do you recognize that feeling?

So first we have the dreaded SCHOOL LIST. For the lucky parents who already got their school list at the end of June, they are already organized (well some of them, others wait til the last week of August anyway J).  For the rest of us unlucky parents, there is the huge school list of supplies that we find ourselves fighting over in the large and busy supermarkets. Going through that huge list year after year, spending a near fortune, and dragging the very happy children looking for that special trendy school bag has oftentimes driven me crazy.  And just how many different sized exercise books exist in France anyway?

Tracy’s Top Tip:  Hand the list over at one of the local shops in your area who do the shopping for you, costs a little more but well worth it.  I found a really good one here

For those adults who have no school aged children, they have the unexpected challenge of trying to do their shopping without listening to all of the frustrated parents and cantankerous children, extra-long queues and of course lots of shelf space taken up with rows and rows of pens!!

Tracy’s Top Tip:  Avoid shopping the first week in September if you can and go to the beaches which will be empty!

No sooner are you over the school list, then you have the AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES to book.  The pressure builds up, what are the children going to do?  What are their friends doing?  And then getting your children into the activity of their choice is also a bit like trying to bump into George Clooney at Lake Como, you just know it’s going to be a big challenge and there’s a very big chance it might not happen!

Tracy’s Top Tip: Unless your child really wants to do an extra activity, let them chill.  If not, plan early, ask your friends what their children are doing & join the queue! Patience is a virtue, or so they say !