Paris, and I assume the rest of France, has a smooth (but bureaucratic process) for integrating non-francophone students into their school system. We know, because we have been through it.
We hadn’t planned on sending AJ to school. Homeschooling seemed like it would allow for more flexibility in traveling around Europe. Also, I was worried that it would be hard for her to function in a regular classroom with only minimal french. However, while homeschooling was working very well, we weren’t traveling that much, so we looked into sending her to school.
It turns out, that for the middle and high school level, there is a centralized office that evaluates students and assigns them to a “non-francophone” class. The office is called “Casnav. Here is a link to the main website. I believe elementary school students are dealt with at the level of the Marie of your arrondisement.
So, Casnav evaluated AJ and assigned us to a school. Collège Camille See in the 15th. (A collège is a middle school and a lycée is a high school.) Not all middle schools and high schools have a non-francophone class. Unfortunately, the ones near us were full. So we have quite a long commute.
However, the experience so far has been great. The class is small – about 18 students. AJ has become friends with two Brazilian girls and a girl from Thailand. She tells me they communicate somehow in a mixture of french and english. The teachers have been very welcoming and she is learning a lot of french very quickly.
This being a school and in France, there were glitches and some significant amount of bureaucracy to get through but it gets done and everyone is doing their best.
Once a student’s level of french is sufficient they are integrated into the regular classes. Alternatively, as it happens Camille See is one of three schools in Paris that have an international section where students are taught in both English and French. So if we were staying, and if we were so inclined, once her French is strong enough she could apply for the international section and get a fully bilingual education.
My recommendation is that if you have the chance, send your child to French school. Also, plan ahead. It did take over a month to get an appointment with the Casnav office for the evaluation. Planning ahead may also help to be assigned to a school in your neighborhood.
Hey, and if you have any questions, I am happy to help!