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La Rentrée des Classes is near

The long Summer holidays are nearing the end in France and everyone is getting ready for “La Rentrée des Classes”. Children have been on holiday since July 6th, enjoying (hopefully) 8 weeks of fun and games.

Firstly, teachers will be going back a few days earlier than their pupils, on August 30th. As with their counterparts in the UK, they need to prepare for the new school year. However, for the children, there will be no distinction between maternelle (Kindergarten), primaire (Primary school), collège (Secondary school) and lycée (College). On September 2nd, every school in France will officially re-open its doors for the new school year 2019-2020. This includes all three geographical zones that France is divided into: A, B and C.

In fact, France has been divided into 3 Academic zones since school year 1964-1965. The idea behind this was to make the number of school children in each zone roughly the same. The aim was to increase the length of the Winter holiday and Spring holiday periods over 4 weeks. Consequently, the Winter sports touristic activity should benefit.

School zones in France
School zones A, B and C

After the Rentrée on September 2th, the next school holidays will be the Vacances de la Toussaint (Autumn half-term). They start on October 19th and end on November 4th 2019, for all three zones. Effectively, this means that after returning to school early September, children will study for one and a half months before being on holiday again.


The first Summer holidays were introduced in 1231 for a very specific reason: farmers needed the help of their children to harvest grapes and crops instead of sitting in a classroom during the Summer months. Therefore, school holidays were granted by the then pope, Gregory IX. He is best known for having established the Papal Inquisition. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_Inquisition)

In those days, each school could decide the date of its holidays as it saw fit, and choose from 80 days within the school year. As a result, children did not necessarily take the full 8 weeks during the Summer months.

Eventually, the system changed and it was not until the “Trente Glorieuses” that Summer holidays became a time dedicated to family and relaxation on holiday. “Les Trente Glorieuses” was the thirty-year period from 1945 to 1975 following the end of the Second World War in France. It was the start of seaside holidays for thousands of households!

Nowadays, Summer holidays rhyme with organisation and planning for many families! Countless parents struggle to adapt their timetables in order to fit in with their children’s holidays during 8 weeks, bearing in mind that most of them cannot take that long off during the Summer months. Children need looking after full-time, with trips to various activities, nursery, or after work clubs. As a result, many families choose to send their eldest children to holiday camps or recreation centres for the youngest. In fact, with the increasing number of one-parent families, it can be very tricky and difficult to look after and entertain children during the long Summer months!


A – Zone

Zone A is the following : Académies of Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon and Poitiers.

B – Zone

Zone B includes the  académies of Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Reims, Rennes, Rouen and Strasbourg.

C – Zone

Zone C includes the following académies: Créteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse and Versailles.

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