So what is the best way to manage to move to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible for youngsters?
What were the biggest hurdles and what were the challenges that were easy to overcome? And what was easier than they expected?
We asked the true experts – the families who have already made the move to France and who have learned a few things along the way.
Of course for everyone, child and adult, the biggest preoccupation is learning the language. People arrive with different levels of French, but almost all of us need to do some rapid learning once we get here.
British mum of three and Our Normandy Life blogger Natasha Alexander says it’s not quite that simple.
She said: “It is such a myth that children will be fluent in three months, especially younger children. Normally chimed by people who 1) don’t have any children of this age and 2) are not moving to France.
Emma Snead, who lives in Aveyron in south west France said: “My son was aged 4 when we moved. The hardest part was that this is a small town with very little English spoken anywhere. He arrived to a classroom where he was the only non French kid and as a very verbal English boy it was hard for him to express himself.
“We made friends with parents and had them over for dinner with their kids and having been told by the teacher that he wasn’t making any progress, that night he became French and just relaxed into conversation with his friends. We were gobsmacked. Since then he’s been fine,” she said.
Angela Saver added: “Was hardest for my 11-year-old who started in 6eme, academically there was some catching up to do but she kept with the pace and graduated with her Bac last year after being accepted to Sorbonne.”
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We have a full guide to the different types of schooling in France here, but broadly speaking state schools are available to anyone and are free (apart from lunches and after-school activities) while private and international schools charge fees.
The French state schools are, of course, taught entirely in French and extra support for non French speakers varies quite widely from place to place. They offer a ‘total immersion’ in French so many children learn rapidly, but for a child with no French at all it can be a challenge.
The other option is an international school, which are generally taught in English, but have French classes. An easier option for some but they are generally in the bigger cities so may not be an option for people living in rural areas.
He said: “We have our daughter in an international school (which is diverse but predominantly English speaking), we attend the American Church in Paris (which is a predominantly English speaking but has a number of French families). She also takes dance classes with students predominately French-speaking and is also involved in a choir that is predominantly French speaking.”
She said: “Our son Darien was 11. The fact that we couldn’t help him as easily with his homework was difficult because we had never been through the French education ourselves. French school was as unfamiliar to us as it was to him.
She sad: “My son has one-to-one French lessons everyday for an hour – this is a fabulous support and not something I anticipated.”
She said: “There’s no smiley faces here – it’s a red or green mark. It’s right or it’s wrong there’s no “well done for trying and never mind if you got it wrong” but not in a horrible way. It is what it is.
Protests over changes to the French shool system (complete with French grammar joke). Photo: AFP
Jeff Waters said: “The biggest challenge for our daughter was making new friends. In many ways, France is a very insulated society that puts a lot of emphasis on family, so it’s difficult for outsiders to break in. The language barrier doesn’t help!
“We have our daughter in an international school and we attend the American Church in Paris. She also takes dance classes with students predominately French-speaking and is also involved in a choir that is predominantly French speaking.
“Our children initially saw the move as an adventure and we made efforts to keep the adventure pace going when they were young, visiting new places on the weekends, lots of car trips, hikes, beach outings, museums etc, she said.
“After eight years they truly understand our motivations for jumping at our opportunity to move here and are quite happy we did.”
And Emma Snead, who has settled in the small village of Villefranche-de-Rouergue in Aveyron said they were surprised by how welcoming people were.
And for anyone struggling with the move she had this advice: “Just keep the faith. We didn’t do anything differently. We just kept smiling.”