Property buying guide for France
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Education in France

France is the third most popular destination for international students after the UK and the USA. It has 83 public universities, about 200 engineering schools, 200 schools of economics and management, 120 public higher schools of art and 20 schools of architecture.

Primary and secondary education

Education for children of six to sixteen years is compulsory. The first level consists of two stages: three or four years spent at the nursery (école maternelle) and five years at primary school (école primaire). Secondary education covers four years at middle school (collège) and three years at high school (lycée) levels. After graduating from high school, teenagers take the French baccalaureate (baccalauréat) exam and can enter a university.

At state schools studies are almost free, except for lunches, school manuals and trips. Private schools charge tuition fees, but it is cheaper than in the UK or the US. Many French private schools are catholic and religious lessons are mandatory. They are popular as the education often caters to high standards.

The most prestigious Parisian lycées are located in the sixteenth arrondissement. These are the Lycée Jean-Baptiste Say, Lycée Janson de Sailly, Lycée Saint-Jean-de-Passy, Lycée Benjamin Franklin. A few hundred meters away from the distinguished Sorbonne university are France’s top rated secondary schools: Lycée Henri-IV, Lycée Louis le Grand and Collège de France.

Higher education

France adopted the European higher education standards: the LMD system (Licence, Master, Doctorate). Earning a Licence (Bachelor’s) takes six semesters, Master's another four semesters, a Doctorate two more years with the possibility of extension.

The ability to write and speak French fluently is very important. Only business schools, like INSEAD where the learning and working language is English, are the exception. Admission requires a passport, birth certificate and diplomas. All the documents must have French translations and be apostilled. A motivation letter is also needed, along with the recommendations from teachers, employers, etc.

Grandes écoles are considered prestigious. They train highly qualified specialists in Engineering, Management, Economics, Military Science, Education and Culture. There are more than 220 of such institutions in France, including the Paris School of Engineering (École des Ingénieurs de la Ville de Paris), Polytechnic School (École Polytechnique), National School of Administration (École Nationale d'Administration or ENA), Superior Normal School (École Normale Supérieure). These schools are not easy to enter: there is a rigorous competitive admission process and many institutions are fee-paying.

Business schools (Ecoles de Commerce) are popular too. The most famous school is the School of Higher Commercial Studies (École des Hautes Etudes Commerciales or HEC Paris). Its alumni include the President of France, François Hollande, entrepreneur François Pinault (ranked seventy-seventh on Forbes world's wealthiest people list) and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

It's easier to enter one of the universities which consider applications based on the results of the baccalaureate exam. The most famous university is Paris-Sorbonne University, one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in the XII century.

Top French universities

In France Worldwide University French name City
1 24 Superior Normal School, École Normale Supérieure Paris
2 35 Polytechnic School École Polytechnique Paris
3 115 Pierre and Marie
Curie University
Université Pierre et
Marie Curie (UPMC)
Paris
4 179 Superior Normal School
of Lyon
École Normale Supérieure
de Lyon
Lyon
5 209 University of Paris-Sud Université Paris-Sud Paris
6 210 Paris Diderot University –
Paris 7
Université Paris Diderot –
Paris-VII
Paris
7 215 Joseph Fourier University Université Joseph Fourier –
Grenoble-I
Grenoble
8 222 Paris Institute of Political
Studies
Sciences Po Paris Paris
9 226 University of Strasbourg Université de Strasbourg Strasbourg
10 227 Paris Sorbonne University Université Paris-Sorbonne
(Paris-IV)
Paris

Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2014–2015)

International students have the same rights as the French nationals. They have access to public insurance, subsidies for accommodation and discounts on public transport.

Expenses on preparing to study in France, EUR

Six-month DALF preparation course in a French university 300
DALF Exam 80
Online version of the student's record 70
Required annual bank account balance 6,150
Visa 50
Air tickets to France About 200
University application fee About 250
Total 7,100

The French government provides substantial financial support to universities. The annual subsidy per each student, both local and international, is about €10,000. That's why tuition fees rarely exceed €300 per year. In public higher engineering schools they are about €600 per year. In other higher education institutions, including business schools, they are notably higher: €8,000–12,000 per year. Foreign citizens are eligible for scholarships just like the French. Financial aid is available from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Education, National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS) and other organisations. According to Letudiant.Fr, the top five French cities for the students are Toulouse, Grenoble, Montpellier, Marseille (with Aix-en-Provence) and Lyon.

Having entered an educational institution, students can apply for accommodation on campus, but the demand is very high. More frequently foreign citizens find private accommodation. Student property rentals are about €400–500 per month for a studio and €500–1,300 for a two-bedroom flat.

Average studio rental in French cities, EUR per month (2015)

Paris 734
Nice 547
Aix-en-Provence 524
Annecy 504
Lyon 482
Lille 471
Marseille 456
Bordeaux 447
Montpellier 455
Strasbourg 449
Toulouse 442
Toulon 423
Grenoble 420
Nantes 401
Rennes 396
Rouen 395
Reims 393
Le Havre 379
Poitiers 366
Agen 294

According to the Observatory of Student Life (Observatoire de la Vie Etudiante, OVE), one-third of the French students (32.3%) live at home, 23.4% rent a property on their own, 23.5% do this together with friends or a peer. Students spend approximately €4,800 per year on meals, personal hygiene products, entertainment, clothes, Internet and phone – commuting costs about €460.

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