Useful tips & information

3 things you need to know to get ready for “la rentree”!

La rentree (or la rentrée as written in French) is the expression French people uses for the month of September in France. The back to school season, when everyone returns from the summer holidays and organises their school year. The entire country goes back to normal life after being shut down for summer break.

Tip 1: La rentree applies to everyone

Back to school for pupils and students

Prepare the school/university year

If you have school-age children, you will need to prepare la rentree for them. If it is not their first school year in France, you should have been provided with a school supplies list last June or July by the school either on the school website or on the school notice board.

This list should be standardized by the school board to avoid unnecessary expenses. Some schools or the school parents’ association also facilitate group purchases to give access to cheaper supplies.

The Department for Education also provides a 2021 school supplies list that can help if you haven’t been provided with the school supplies list in advance.

2020 school supply list

Start of the school year CAF allowance

Depending on your annual income and your number of children, you may receive a Start of the school year allowance (Allocation de Rentrée Scolaire – ARS) to help with the rentree expenses.

This is a great financial help for families, so check out below if you may be entitled to it to send your request ASAP and not miss this opportunity!

If you haven’t applied to the CAF start of the school year allowance yet, you still can submit the request by sending this ARS request form. Select the Metropole option if you live in mainland France. You will need to send the paper form to your CAF nearest office with the backup documents stated on page 4 if you are not registered with CAF yet. If you have a CAF number (numéro d’allocataire), you should make the ARS request via your CAF online account.

CAF allowance

The thresholds to receive the ARS are:

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The income threshold for 2021 ARS subsidies based on 2019 income and the 31st of July 2021 family situation

The number of children to support  (between 6 and 18 yo.)

Annual income threshold


25 319 €


31 162 €


37 005 €

Per extra child

5 843 €

Source CAF:

INSIDER TIP: If your income is slightly above the threshold, still make the request as the CAF may pay an adapted proportional amount.

The ARS amount paid per child born between the 16th September 2003 and the 31st December 2015 (included), and for every younger child matriculated in primary school, are as follow for the 2021 rentree including this year’s reevaluation:

ARS amount per child

Child age

Allowance amount including the 2021 reevaluation

6-10 y.o. (1)

370.31 €

11-14 y.o. (2)

390.74 €

15-18 y.o. (3)

404.28 €

Source CAF:

The start of the school year allowance is paid at the end of August.

rentree litteraire
Photo by Pixabay

La rentree litteraire and the publishers’ massive book release

If you are a reader and you live in France, you may have noticed that from mid-August to October, the media are presenting many book releases and author of the year promotions.

For the writers, translators and publishers, this is a time of the year not to miss as most of the releases and media attention is right now. About 40% of the novel annual sales are made during the 2-3 months of la rentree litteraire!

For the readers, it is a bit like being in candy land with overwhelming options to choose from!

You will be able to discover many first novel writers or read your favourite author latest book! It is the best time of the year for most publishers to publish promising debut novels, considering the extra media attention.

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Both French literature and foreign translated novels are released massively at the time of the year.

It is a great time to go to your local book shop to ask them for their advice on the new releases!

The French political start of the year

Most French political parties organise meetings for the active political members to prepare the political rentree.

These gatherings are called the “Université d’été”! Don’t get confused… these events are not organised by Universities.

Intellectuals, members of the civil society, researchers and of course the party campaigning members are invited to conferences, debates and training. The Université d’été often marks the end of the summer break for the political parties.

matriculation calendar
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs

Tip 2: Plan your annual activity calendar in advance

Get your matriculation calendar in order!

Have you already tried to start a new activity in France in November or any time during the school year? It can be pretty hard to matriculate anywhere at this time of the year! The concept of paying as you go is not so common, especially with group activities as this would affect the learning curve of the rest of the group.

Practising a regular activity is one of the best ways as an expat to meet French people and make new friends! But to make sure you can matriculate, don’t miss out on the September matriculations! You may not be able to register later on depending on the association.

French association and clubs organise their activities annually based on the school year. Some associations have one or 2 matriculation days in September and these could be your only opportunity to register!

Get up (very) early!

If you are matriculating into a public association or when the matriculation fee is very cheap, people tend to start queueing very early in the morning to guarantee their subscription! You may need to start queuing as early as if you would go to Prefecture for a residence permit renewal!

A few years ago I matriculated my niece to baby swimming classes with the local association and I started to queue at 5 am and I couldn’t even get the slot I wanted! It was the same situation when I register for pilates classes with the local association (association de quartier). I went at 4 am with a folded chair, a blanket (yes, it was cold at that time) and a thermos of coffee! Some people were even organised in groups playing cards, and others were watching movies on their tablets!

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Better get organised than arriving at the opening time to a queue going all around the block!

As you can see, this situation applies both to adult and children activities! So, if you are a family, I advise you to check carefully the matriculation calendar for every activity and association.

Some associations also organise discovery classes throughout September to attract new members and let you try out before the actual subscription days.

I would, therefore, recommend you to start looking from mid-August or even before to know which activity you want to try out and check the matriculation calendar not to miss out on anything.

INSIDER TIP: If you were already doing an activity you liked last year, you may have priority for this year’s matriculation as early birds depending on the association policy.

shopping rush
Photo by Markus Spiske

Tip 3: Optimize your shopping

Avoid the September rush

Since we are already early September, if you haven’t done your rentrée shopping, well… you will know for next year.

You may have understood that for many things the end of summer means a big rush to organise the start of the (school) year as everyone gets back from holidays.

I haven’t really seen such phenomena at this level in the countries I have lived in. Of course, people get ready for school or to go back to work, but not to such an extent and not for so many sectors of activity. The only exception would be sports. This is one of the few sectors that doesn’t have a rentree as Anglo-Saxon countries would have for example.

I personally try to avoid the supermarkets or stationery’s shops at the weekends before and after the first day of school.

I strongly recommend you do your school supplies shopping as early as possible to avoid the early September shopping rush and occasional shortages.

Take advantage of the rentrée discounts

If you need to take a mobile phone subscription, September and also January are a great time to get discounts!

You will also see discounts for many difference products in September, so if you are unhappy with some service you are paying for, changing contracts in September with the rentrée discounts can get you some good deals.

In short

To summarize, to have a stress-free rentree in France, you need to anticipate.

Some things can already be done in June or early July before going on holiday. And if you didn’t manage to anticipate, this year, you can still do it next year.

And remember, the rentrée also applies to adults! 🙂

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The 3 things you need to know to get ready for la rentree


  • Sarah D.

    That is precious info, very useful for every parent! Thank you very much Mademoiselle Guiga!
    I personally used to love “la rentrée”: new books, new agenda, new beginnings, guessing what teacher we were going to have, everything ready for the first day…that’s my “good student” side! 😀

  • Lara Tabatabai

    I have already done my shopping for la Rentrée and to save money I went to 3 separate shops. It is very useful to know about the ‘allocation de rentrée scolaire’. Thank you very much for letting us know of the details !

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hello Lara, Many thanks for your comment!
      I see that you are well prepared! I’m happy I could help you with the allocation de rentrée scolaire information.
      Have a good end of the summer!

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