As September rolled in, so did another milestone for our little family… first day of school. Earlier this year when we saw a few of our friends’ children start school, we admired the photos and wondered what it’d be like when our little man starts school in 2021. Unbeknownst to us that he too would experience it this year, all thanks to France.
In France, school starts in the year you turn three. Known as L’ecole maternelle, it’s a cross between kindergarten and prep. Unlike many expats who often choose bilingual or international schools in Paris over the French public school system, we thought we’d jump right into the deep end and add this to our experience of la vie Parisienne. What helped make this decision even more was our meeting with the school’s Directrice (the Director, aka Principal) and Sahil’s potential teachers who were all super lovely and also spoke perfect English (of course they all said their English was not good but they were purely being humble). They all confirmed that they would do whatever they could to help him settle into his new environment.
So Monday, 3 September arrives and we have a little three year old who is excitedly waiting to attend L’école maternelle. Bag packed the night before with his favourite teddy for nap time and clothes all ironed and laid out, our little man couldn’t wait for Monday to arrive. That morning, the three of us walked hand-in-hand and before we knew it, there we were in his classroom. His teacher looked him straight in the eye and said, “I will speak a little English today but from tomorrow… it will only be French“. Sahil nodded, despite that he had no idea what we had gotten him into.
Walking out of the school was so surreal. It was the first time since we had arrived in Paris that we were without our little man and for us both it was the slowest day ever as we eagerly awaited for pick-up at 4:20. But what a little trooper! He was all smiles when we picked him up and told us all about his day as we walked home.
It’s been a week now and while some days there are a few little tears in the morning as we say goodbye, generally he’s having a great time and is really relishing the experience of a French school, complete with the cutest canteen we’ve ever seen, a lunch menu that is oh so divine and gorgeous little beds for nap time.
Example lunch menu
- Oeuf dur vinaigrette (Hard boiled egg with vinaigrette)
- Coquillettes au gruyère (Macaroni and cheese)
- Salade-verde (Salad)
- Fromage blanc (Cheese)
- Coupelle de fruits au sirop (Fruit cup in syrup)
- Pain restauration (Bread)
School hours are from 8:20 to 4:20 every day, except Wednesday which is a half day. At the end of each month, we’ll receive a report of what our little man has been up to, complete with photos and notes from the teacher. Suffice to say, we’re hanging out to see what comes back from school on the last day of September.
And so another memorable milestone added to our time in Paris.