Why You Shouldn’t Read Le Petit Prince

Why You Shouldn’t Read Le Petit Prince

Everyone should read Le Petit Prince when he learns french

Ok, tell me who started all this? Who?

It is not that I have something against that beautiful book — it is not my favourite french classic and certainly not the best! — and if you absolutely want to read it, go on, give it a try. 

(You can start off by listening to this playlist)

Here is the truth:

First, many French people didn’t read Le Petit Prince — or other classics by the way — even if they praise it and would fight tooth and nail for it!

Most of the time, they just studied some extracts at school. Only two categories of people would read the entire books: 

  • the motivated ones 
  • those interested by literary studies.

Second, you have to know that even natives may have difficulties to understand Le Petit Prince because it is complex since it is about imagination and poetry!

Thus it is absolutely normal if you face the same difficulties. One has to be really advanced in the language to understand the implicit, etc. 

Also, thinking about it, french literature is not set in stone: there are so much treasures to discover and promote…

For example, did you know that Simone de Saint-Exupéry, Antoine’ sister, was also a writer? She was older than him and when he started to be famous, he didn’t want another writer in the family (!). Despite that, she was a dedicated sister since she protected her brother’s work until the end of her life in 1978.

Their descendants, reporting they didn’t know why she didn’t do it herself, published her uncompleted but interesting childhood memories book, Cinq enfants dans un parc, to commemorate the centenary of the birth of her brother in 2000. 

I really want to pay tribute here to unknown or lesser-known authors like Simone de Saint-Exupéry who was not just “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s sister”, but a person, a woman and a writer in her own right.

People like her make me reflect a lot on what is — or not — considered as major books and authors “you have to know”…

Anyway, there are so much great books to read out there so make your own way!

This being said, you will find below some reading advice if it can help:

1) Read books in french that you have already read in your language

Since you know the story, it will help you (and you can find bilingual versions if you want to start slowly).

2) Read french versions of “must-read” books from all over the world

For example, read again Anne Frank’s diary, Le Journal d’Ann Frank, in a french graphic version. You can also find french versions of short writing style books like Le manuel du Guerrier de la Lumière by Paulo Coehlo. If you feel ready for more, check the french versions of 1984 by George Orwell, La chambre solitaire by Shin Kyong-Suk (신경숙) or Les Délices de Tokyo by Durian Sukegawa.

3) Read books in french about topics you are interested in

If you like travel writing, go at Librairie Grangier downtown Dijon — it is the biggest bookshop around — and flick through the “récits de voyage” area! If you are more into crime novel, try Le Mystère de la Chambre jaune*, a classic by Gaston Leroux.

* Yes, it is a version for teenagers but who cares? You will find useful annotations

If you are a soccer fan, check out this book + CD: La fabuleuse aventure des Bleus (A2). It is about the french team who won the World Cup in 2018.

And for more suggestions depending on your level in french, check out this page!

4) Read classic (or not!) books in french

Classics especially dedicated to learners of french (teenagers and adults): for example, Le Tour du monde en 80 jours + CD (A2) by Jules Verne

Classics published in bilingual versions: check out this page

Short texts: for exemple an engaged essay, Indignez-vous ! by Stéphane Hessel (30 pages), an outstanding french diplomat, resistant, writer and activist who addressed a beautiful message to the french people in 2010 (3 years before his death) about what they fought for in the past and shouldn’t forget. You also have La préférence nationale and other short stories, first book by Fatou Diome who shared her experience of immigration in France with a unique and brilliant style.

Comics to relax (but also learn thanks to the images! ): you can find lots of classics adapted into comics and if you are a comics books fan, you have to know all about Franco-Belgian comics! Here is a selection that people from all ages love to read again and again: Le Petit Nicolas, by Sempé-Goscinny (also without images here), Cédric (Cauvin/Laudec/Dupuis), Boule et Bill (Roba Jean/Dupuis), Gaston Lagaffe (Franquin/Dupuis) ⇓, etc.

“There is black ice”

➨ For more, check out Sam’s Book Club

You have an opinion about a book from this list (or not!)? Share with us below!


Check our Free Quizzes for Beginners!

(update 20/08/13)

How do you write a letter to a friend in French?

How do you write a letter to a friend in French?

Use proper greetings

You can write your friend’s first name alone* or with the adjective “cher”. If necessary, make sure to show the feminine and the plural!

*definitely that choice for someone you don’t know well or you can write “Madame” / “Monsieur”

Chère Cecilia,

“Tu” instead of “vous”

For a close friend, you will obviously use “tu”! Do not assume that French people know conjugation so do the same as they do: check it*! 

*Lots of free French tools available on line, for example la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com

Also, since it’s someone you are comfortable with, you are allowed to ask about private topics such as health, family’s, etc.

“Tu” is also possible in a professional email/letter if both correspondents agreed beforehand

J’espère que tu vas bien ? 

Past tenses to talk about past events

Imparfait is used to describe something in the past, talk about something usual in the past or different steps about something which occured in the past.

Passé-composé is used to talk about specific actions that are over now.

Both of them have to be used alternately, it depends on the situation and what you want to say.

Ce week-end, il y avait les journées du patrimoine alors ça coûtait seulement 5eur l’aller-retour pour voyager dans la région. Au dernier moment, j’ai décidé d’aller visiter le château de Bussy-Rabutin, situé à 30mn de Dijon. 

Present tense to relate to present actions AND talk about the person’s likes and dislikes

Even if you talk about something in the past, don’t forget the fact that some things will still be conjugated with permanent present.

Toi qui aimes les châteaux, j’ai pensé à toi car celui-ci est vraiment magnifique sans parler de son immense parc de plus de 30 hectares ! 
Son plus célèbre propriétaire était le comte Roger de Bussy-Rabutin, né en 1618 et mort en 1693. Il était général des armées royales de Louis 14e, l’un des plus célèbres rois de France, et pas vraiment fan de liberté d’expression…
En effet, il va exiler Bussy-Rabutin pour avoir ouvertement dit du mal des mœurs et du libertinage de la cour. Le roi décide de l’envoyer chez lui en Bourgogne pour le punir.
Franchement, entre nous qui ne voudrait pas se faire confiner ici ?
Pour s’occuper, Bussy-Rabutin va alors écrire ses mémoires et entretenir une correspondance active avec ses amis et sa famille. Il va aussi faire décorer son château avec plus de 500 portraits des membres de la cour, un peu comme un feed Instagram !

Prepare the end of your email or letter

Adverbs are always interesting, for example to express when something happens.

Aujourd’hui, on peut visiter tout ça car le château appartient à l'État depuis 1929 et c’est lui qui se charge de son entretien et de l’ouvrir aux visiteurs.

Talk about your hopes for the future with first group verb 

espérer (present tense) + que + subject + verb conjugated with future tense

J’espère que cette lettre des temps modernes te plaira et que tu auras pu* imaginer la paix et la beauté de cette magnifique journée.

*be careful “auras pu” is “futur antérieur” of the verbe “pouvoir”! This tense is used to talk about an action in the future but still coming before another future action.

Use proper greetings (2)

If you know the person closely, you can use “à bientôt”, “à plus” (= “à plus tard” meaning “see you later” OR “see you soon” here in this context) or “prends soin de toi* (take care)”, etc.

*definitely not for someone you don’t know or in a professional context!

À bientôt

Check out example below


Helping Adam use French to influence

These past few months, I was challenged by INRAE Dijon, French public research institute dedicated to agricultural science, to provide a 30h Advanced French For Foreigners Course for Research Director Adam Vanbergen.

Of course, Adam was already fluent in French but he was determined to do even better for example in situations when several Researchers interact and you have to process different things at the same time in order to provide appropriate AND convincing answers.

More than 100 pages of content

All through our sessions, I made him discover how people* build their speech. Some of them are easy to understand because their ideas are clear and when they talk, it’s well prepared. Some of them give you a headache and you have to deal with that.

Everyone still wants to make his point and builds a conscious (or unconscious) strategy to do so!

*Researchers and well-informed public (or not!) in science

French grammar, linguistics, rhetoric, argumentation: I created more than 100 pages of content from real situations and I challenged Adam with missions to accomplish. Of course, in an action-oriented evaluation of the language, I wanted this course to be useful for him as a Researcher and Research Director. 💪

Read below Adam’s feedback about this course and check link if you also want to join

Adam, merci de témoigner pour cet article ! Voici les questions :
  • Êtes-vous satisfait de cette formation et a-t-elle répondu à vos objectifs de départ ?

Oui parce que je trouve que le programme est bien construit avec un mélange de grammaire, de compréhension orale, etc. J’ai apprécié l’interactivité grâce à l’utilisation de la vidéo qui stimulait les échanges et aussi que Samyra place le sujet dans le contexte de mon domaine de recherche. C’est plus facile à comprendre.

  • Qu’est-ce qui vous a été le plus utile dans cette formation ?

La grammaire (pronoms relatifs, etc.), les connecteurs logiques, etc. ont été des outils que je réutilisais après les séances dans mon travail.

  • Avez-vous constaté des changements pour votre travail ?

J’ai plus de confiance quand je parle avec mon équipe.

  • Est-ce que vous recommanderiez cette formation à un.e autre chercheur / chercheuse ?

Oui, cette formation a été construite de manière très précise pour les besoins individuels des chercheurs. Elle est très différente des formations dans d’autres instituts de langue.

“Use French to Influence”

30h course especially designed for Researchers (B2/C1 level)

Thank you!

Thank you!

These past 3 years, I had the opportunity to meet clients from almost 20 countries.

Students, researchers, tourists, gite owners, etc.: THANKS to all of them for their motivation and above all, for trusting me.

I don’t teach them French, they teach me how to pass it them on

Il était une fois, Seed…

Il était une fois, Seed…

Shout-out to Seed, a new charity made in France!

Created by spouses of famous football players, Seed will support projects dedicated to health, education , environment and sport anywhere needed and first of all in Africa.

We love the concept so it surely deserves some “story-tale-ing” gift from École Bonjour Dijon!

Check them on Instagram

Il était une fois dans un pays où la terre est très sèche et très chaude, deux enfants que nous appellerons par les surnoms qu’ils se donnent : P’tit frère et Grande sœur.

De leur maisonnette, on voyait tout là-bas au loin la cime des baobabs majestueux.

Tous les jours, après les cours, P’tit frère et Grande sœur passaient des heures à imaginer ensemble — ou chacun de leur côté — mille et une inventions.

Il faut dire qu’ils avaient entendu parler comme tout un chacun de William Kamkwamba dit “le garçon qui dompta le vent”.

Imaginez un peu ce qu’il avait réussi à construire avec un tronc d’eucalyptus, des restes de bicyclette et du matériel de récupération : une éolienne !

Célébré comme un héros dans son pays, il était devenu à juste titre un exemple à suivre par delà les frontières.

À l’annonce de ce tour de force inédit pour un jeune de son âge, on s’était félicité dans les allées des marchés et on avait généreusement partagé cet exploit sur tous les réseaux sociaux réels ou virtuels. Voilà une nouvelle qui en avait bouché un coin aux cousins de France ! 

Tout ce remue-ménage avait donné des idées à bien des enfants qui se lançaient des défis à qui serait le prochain inventeur du siècle.

Chez P’tit frère et Grande sœur, l’exubérance de l’un était tempérée par le calme de l’autre. P’tit Frère considérait que l’usage que l’on pouvait faire du résultat de ses expériences hasardeuses importait peu. Le simple fait d’amasser des trésors glanés dans tous les bric-à-brac des environs lui suffisait amplement.

Grande sœur observait quant à elle cet enthousiasme d’un œil indulgent et se contentait d’en sourire. Si elle semblait réservée, c’est en effet à l’intérieur qu’elle bouillonnait : son esprit était sans cesse en train de réfléchir à tous les schémas et comptes-rendus d’expériences lus dans les livres qui lui tombaient sous la main…

Oui, c’était décidé, si elle en avait la possibilité, elle deviendrait une scientifique.


Pendant ce temps-là, à des milliers de kilomètres, quelque chose avait commencé à germer là où personne ne s’y attendait…

Imaginez un chaudron dans lequel tombent des ingrédients d’une qualité rare : de la bonne volonté marinée à de la détermination en acier trempé et assaisonnée d’un zeste de notoriété offert par des ambassadeurs au grand cœur.

Et c’est ainsi que naquit, après un certain temps de maturation, Seed.

Tout comme dans les histoires imaginaires, ce sont des bonnes fées qui se penchèrent les premières sur le berceau de Seed.

Ensemble, elles partagèrent leurs préoccupations pour les enfants venant au monde avec de graves maladies, les jeunes qui rêvent d’apprendre et de pratiquer leur sport préféré mais aussi ces familles privées d’accès à l’eau ou à l’électricité ainsi que ces agriculteurs et agricultrices si soucieux du bien-être de la terre.

Aider les autres à aider les autres, voilà le vœu qu’elles firent pour Seed.

Des colombes voyageuses ayant été envoyées de par le monde, l’une d’entre elles arriva un beau jour dans le village de P’tit frère et Grande sœur.

Et très vite, la nouvelle se répandit :

“Oyé, oyé ! Quiconque ayant connaissance d’une association méritante est invité à venir la présenter” 

Au même moment, dans le calme de sa maisonnette, Grande sœur était penchée sur son travail en surveillant du coin de l’œil un petit perroquet youyou qu’elle avait recueilli.

Elle entendit soudain P’tit frère arriver tout essoufflé :

– Grande sœur ! Au village, tout le monde parle de Seed ! 

– Te voilà, toi ! Tu n’as plus la tête lourde comme un hippopotame, on dirait ? lui rappela-t-elle sans lever les yeux.

P’tit frère ne prêta pas attention à cette pique et continua tout excité :

– Il paraît que tout le monde est allé voir le directeur de la bibliothèque du village ! On va peut-être enfin pouvoir l’agrandir !

Grande sœur dressa l’oreille, soudain intéressée.

Quoi ? Une plus grande bibliothèque ? Avec plus de livres ?

Goguenard, P’tit frère poursuivit : 

– Tous ceux qui veulent en parler doivent aller à la réunion qui a lieu… MAINTENANT ! Après, si tu préfères faire tes devoirs de la semaine prochaine…

Mais Grande sœur n’avait pas entendu la fin de sa phrase : elle était déjà partie en trombe.

P’tit frère éclata de rire puis il s’assit un instant, pensif. 

Très curieux et téméraire, il avait de grands projets pour son village et, avec la confiance et l’innocence des enfants, il se disait que tout était possible. 

Quittant à son tour la maisonnette, il partit rejoindre Grande sœur et tous leurs amis pour s’entraider les uns les autres comme ils l’avaient toujours fait.

For more French tales, check our free audiobook

more about the “conte” as a writing-mode

La Liberté d’expression en France

[Free B2 content] La Liberté d’expression en France

Today: session about freedom of speech in France with Eirini (Greece) and Ronald (Netherlands)!

What is the specific definition of freedom of speech in France?

What is the story behind?

Why is press freedom so important?

When is it important to protect or to put some limits on freedom of speech?

This issue is a good opportunity to publish our unique content as a free ressource for:

  • advanced students
  • Teachers of French looking for fresh ideas

“Ignorance and fear are my enemies but knowledge is my shield”

Go straight to the content

5 French Weird Expressions

5 French Weird Expressions


1) emprunter les wc

= someone asks you permission to use the restroom

Est-ce que je peux vous emprunter vos toilettes, s’il vous plaît ?

borrow = emprunter

Imagine a situation where you make a delivery at a company, they don’t expect you to stay for more than that but you need to go to the restroom. You can definitely use this sentence to ask permission!

PS: the extreme politeness of this request makes it really hard to get you a “no”


2) vous appeler quelqu’un 

= call someone for you

Ne bougez pas, je vous appelle mon collègue.

Don’t move, I call you “my coworker”

Imagine someone comes to you and you realize you can’t answer his questions but someone else in your team can so by using this sentence, you ask him to wait and you go call your coworker.

3) mettre quelqu’un bien

= do eveything you can to help someone feel comfortable and enjoy

Fais-moi confiance, je vais te mettre bien !

Imagine a friend is having a bad day so you decide to plan something special for him / her. Using that sentence means that he / she can leave everything to you.

4) remettre le bonjour 

= say hello to someone for someone else 

Vous remettrez le bonjour à votre femme !

Imagine you meet someone you haven’t met in a while (maybe you used to be neighbours for example)…

You talk about family, news, etc. and at the end, you ask him to say hello to his wife for you. It will be considered as small kindness.

PS: remember that if someone uses this sentence, you will probably hear “vous r’mettrez l’bonjour à vot’ femme”

5) être au taquet

= be at the limit of brackets (something that helps holding a door or a shelf)

Il est au taquet, lui ! Ça se voit qu’il veut réussir.

Imagine someone who is really motivated and does whatever it takes to succeed!

People around can say this as a compliment but depending on the context, it can also sound ironic or even mocking as an attempt to hide one’s jealousy…

Are there such weird expressions in your language? Share with us below!

Do You Need French to Apply to a “Grande École”?

Do You Need French to Apply to a “Grande École”?

Quick answer is “no and yes”!

For more, read the article below or go straight to your favorite part  

Are you dreaming of living and working in France, maybe in a famous company like Dior or a hotel from Accor Group?

By the way, since 2016, foreign graduates can now work in France!

Big French companies praise “grandes écoles” a lot. These specific institutions provide very high education level and they are separate from, but parallel and often connected to the main framework of the French public university system.

But hold on, let’s talk first about a fun fact 

aller à la grande école (1) faire une grande école (2)

(1) kids aged 6 going to elementary school

(2) students in their early twenties going to a “grande école”

Oups… Watch your words!

What is a “grande école”?

The name appeared during the Renaissance to refer to… Buildings where you could attend university classes. “Grandes écoles” indeed are big constructions, aren’t they? So it makes sense to focus on the container before the content.

Of course, the first post graduate schools in France were Royal Schools: engineers and military academies (17th-18th). It is just at the end of Early modern european period that “grandes écoles” were also meant for engineering and business education.

Today, there is no official list of “grandes écoles” in France. In 1992, the Ministry of Education described them as having:

  1. a selection based on a competitive exam
  2. a high education level

There are 3 kinds of “grandes écoles”:

  • dedicated to business and management education : according to the BCE, French institution in charge of the competitive exam, there are 21 business schools but we will focus here on the Top 10

By the way, did you know that 5 French “grandes écoles” are in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2020? 4 of them are in our top 10 below: HEC Paris, EM Lyon Business School, Edhec Business School & Essec Business School.

Not only business schools aim at training the best students in business and management but they also offer lifelong learning to business owners and executives (see MBAs at ESSEC).

  • other institutions : selective and challenging institutions such as engineering schools, Sciences Po Paris, Paris-Dauphine, etc. were also influenced by “grandes écoles”.

⛔ Lets’ take a break here to talk about the hidden face of “grandes écoles”

Since they are selective and challenging – how ironic in the nation of equality … – “grandes écoles” are definitely not open to any French student! (Take a look at the drawing below).

So we can’t help but wondering if they are exclusive to people who can afford them? To people gifted with the perfect background leading them to the top jobs in the top companies?

Of course, “grandes écoles” are expensive and even before making it, students who can pay for private lessons definitely have a head start on the others!

Criticisms do exist about “grandes écoles” (check this abstract about “Les Grandes écoles, système dépassé ou produit d’avenir ?” – more in the French version) but as far as I am concerned as a French citizen and a language teacher willing to treat all languages and cultures equally, let’s admit that French “grandes écoles” definitely have a typical way of thinking, organizing, managing and running business. 

They have their own vision on how to deal with the economy and so will the human connections be impacted. And by exporting themselves out of France, they also spread – and impose ? – that vision.

Otherwise, why would ESSEC go in Africa after investing in Asia? Why would many other French “grandes écoles” hurry to invest in Morocco, Senegal or Ivory Coast (see this article in French)? By the way, let’s not forget that the age of colonialism remains a very sensitive subject in France (check here and here)…

How would French people react if academic institutions from asian or african countries would open schools in France?

And by the way, who run the “grandes écoles”? Who decide the contents? The strategy? The vision for future? How do they change – if they change -? Are the students or other publics involved in the process?

Global warming and environmental impact, consequences of Covid-19, overconsumption: we already face some of the big changes we feared the most

Do the “grandes écoles” – and not only the French ones ! – really fit to help us prepare for what comes after? Aren’t these the final hurdle which lead all of us to the present point: short term economic vision with profitability at all costs (including frequent unacceptable working conditions), damage of natural resources, etc., so many reasons “why we should bulldoze the business school”, reported The Guardian in 2018?

I hereby ask questions because I have no answer and also because it is up to you, if you still wish to attend a French “grande école”, to find answers 

6 good points about “grandes écoles”

Now that we talked about the story behind “grandes écoles”, let’s talk about how students benefit from them!

Apart from the cost, any French ambitious student would be more than happy to study in a “grande école” and here is why:

  • selective therefore prestigious, the “grandes écoles” are the must-do especially if you dream to work in hotel trade, luxury industry, restauranting, culture, art, design, pharmaceuticals, etc.

Look below how selective a “grande école” is and imagine how you will be considered as a non-French being able to make it!

  • high quality teaching staff and resources to help students: excellent working and living conditions on campuses (see example at EDHEC Lille). Students get used to networking so it helps for the future!
  • but at the same time, students are encouraged to take projects up: get involved in charities (see examples at TBS), start a business, anything to be able to learn from action! It is also easy to take a gap year in order to go more into your personal project, whatever it might be, in depth.
  • by the way, the “grandes écoles” make it really simple for French students to go abroad starting by providing them with challenging methods to learn foreign languages.
  • frequent dual-degrees provided, for example:

Let’s take a break here to name some French “VIPs” who graduated from a “grande école”

  • top executives
    • Christophe Bonduelle (EDHEC), CEO of Bonduelle 
    • Michael Burke (EDHEC), CEO of Louis Vuitton
    • Jean-Philippe Courtois (SKEMA Business School), Executive Vice President and President, Global Sales, Marketing and Operations for Microsoft
    • François Gay-Bellile (NEOMA), General Manager of Coca-Cola European Partners France 
    • Wilfried Guerrand (NEOMA), Executive VP in charge of Métiers and Data & IT systems at Hermès
    • Thierry Guibert (NEOMA), General Manager of Lacoste
    • Dominique Loiseau (BSB – Executive Program), CEO of Bernard Loiseau gastronomic restaurants
    • François-Henri Pinault (HEC), CEO of Kering (Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, etc.)

Click here for more

Top 10 of French “grandes écoles”

+ will you need French there? 

Classes in “grandes écoles” can be in English and French or only in English with French courses provided to international students. Basically, each “grande école” is different and so are the degrees!

Bear in mind that if you wish to get more skilled in a specific master’s degree for example, French will probably be required at to some point

See example in Skema’s FAQ: “Do I need to speak French to apply? No. SKEMA’s MSc and BBA programmes are designed for international students – they are taught and marked entirely in English. French is not required at all. To help you settle into your new lives in France, the school offers foreign students free French classes. For mastères spécialisés programmes, you need to speak French to apply.”

Anyway, if you come to study here in France with French students, you will soon be expected to reach A2 and then B2 at last, especially if you wish to work for a French company and / or settle down here. 

As far as the “grandes écoles” campuses out of France are concerned, it is impossible to know if French language is privileged in class and for which degree. You will have to check with each school beforehand.

Remember that if you graduate a dual-degree from a French “grande école”, you really can’t miss the opportunity to highlight your level in French whatever it may be due to the courses provided by the “grande école” or your personal commitment!

You will find below the Top 10 French “grandes écoles” with some examples of degrees and the language required

HEC*More about HEC & Asia, HEC & Americas, HEC & Middle East / Africa
ESSEC Global BBA in France, Singapore & Morocco
Master in Management in France, Singapore & Morocco
 ESCP BS* Bachelor in Management (BSc) in Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, Turin
Pre-Master year studies for the Master in Management in Paris () or in Turin ()
Master in Management in the 6 ESCP campuses
List of postgraduate specialised masters ( and/or )
EM Lyon* More about incoming & Double Degree Students (Undergraduate)
More about EM Lyon campus in Casablanca
20 degrees in different locations ( and/or )
EDHEC BBA in Lille & Nice ( and )
List of worldwide academic partners
Audencia Business School*More about Audencia’s strategy abroad
Grenoble école de managementMore about Grenoble EM’s strategy abroad
SKEMA Business School*List of programs and degrees ( and/or )
NEOMA Business SchoolList of programs and degrees ( and/or )
TBSList of programs and degrees ( and/or )
*You can apply to Masters in Management in these 5 Business Schools on the same website JoinschoolinFrance.com

Lets’ also add Burgundy School of Business (BSB) ranked 15 and located here in Dijon but also in Lyon and Paris. Many programmes are delivered 100% in English with French classes available to international students.

How do you get into a “grande école”?

1) Selection based on a competitive exam after a preparatory class (1-3 years)for French people and French-speaking people

After high school diploma*, called “baccalauréat”, French students aged 17-18 (check here for more about Education in France), can attend a “classe préparatoire” (preparatory class) where they will be called préparationnaires during 1 to 3 years.

*If, and only if, they were selected beforehand from their performance at school! 

Since the 18th, this special class prepares students for the “concours d’admission aux grandes écoles”. Students can choose between Literature, Science and, since 1920, Economics and Commerce called “EC” or “HEC” but students call it “prépa épices” (spicy prep? ).

At this stage, things start getting serious… 

Life in “prépa” is very stressful so it is an excellent opportunity to learn dealing with the pressure, find a good work method and also focus on working really hard to read a lot of classics. Indeed, maybe you know how important it is to be able to debate and build reasoning in French education system…  

There, students get prepared for the yearly competitive exam leading to the “programme Grande École” of 21 French business schools (and 3 other schools). All of them deliver masters’ degrees. 

If failed, they can try again twice, it depends if they are satisfied or not with their results at the written and oral parts* of the exam. Also, students from French-speaking countries like Morocco or Senegal go for the same competitive exam as native students. 

*oral part of the exam was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic… A drama for lots of students who relied on it to expect a better result!

⚠ By the way, native or not, you definitely need to be perfectly fluent in French to be able to attend a “classe prépa”. Remember that even most French people can’t make it!

Students in “prépa” are not alone. They have access to useful information and advice thanks to media like Mister Prépa, founded by Benjamin Hautin, former student in “prépa” and a team of students

To apply for a “classe prépa”, visit websites below and follow instructions

( deadlines may have changed when you will read this article!)

  1. check information on your local Campus France agency
  2. application open from mid-November to March on Pastel.diplomatie.fr 
  3. then you will have to follow instructions on Parcoursup.fr (French version only…) from end of January to mid-March
  4. after that, don’t forget to apply for the competitive exam before the end of your “classe prépa”! Follow instructions on Concours-bce.com (French version only…).
2) Selection based on gradefor French people and non-French people

French students who did not attend a “classe prépa” nor have the competitive exam but graduated a bachelor’s degree at university for example can apply to a “grande école”. This is called “admission sur titre”.

Places are limited so they need to prepare their records! Specific honors may be required so as 2 or 3 reference letters and you definitely need to prove your motivation during the interview with the jury.

Non-French students face the same process but each “grande école” is free to require more, for example B2 level in French. 

Check requirements for the Master in Management at Skema and Neoma

To apply for a selection based on grade as a non-French student, follow instructions on Join a School in France

3) Access thanks to an academic partner in your countryfor non-French people

The easiest way to spend a semester or a year (or more!) in France and maybe get a degree from a “grande école” seems to apply for exchange programs your university may have with French “grandes écoles”.

Check examples of partnerships at HEC, Grenoble Ecole de management or BSB

Psst! How about you Start French Now to get ready? ?

Did you find this article useful?

Feel free to comment below and / or share with friends!

Discover 10 French Original Tales (ebook)

Discover 10 French Original Tales

How about improving your listening skills in French?

Feel free to take a look at this collection of homemade French stories* (B1 and above): “Raconte-moi une histoire en attendant le Ramadhan” (“Tell me a story before Ramadhan comes”)

*Yes, as an aunt and a teacher of French, I could not escape my fate: write tales!

picture: Voyages au pays des contes, acrylic paint 70x50cm by Saïda Richi
  • L’éléphant qui broutait l’herbe des océans 
  • Les Wimés et les Géants
  • Au pays du roi Souleymane 
  • Le jardin sur lequel il y a la maison de Mamie Bouture (dedicated to Coexister)
  • Elyes et les bulles
  • Le Hadj gentil
  • Emna, princesse-sourire
  • Une histoire tatastrophique ! 
  • Patapouf, chien-gardien de moutons
  • Une trottinette électrique pour l’aïd (dedicated to R2S)

Download the Ebook (epub format) – 5,00€

Any question or feedback? Contact Samyra