Our French Life, Our School Life

What Colour Is Your Stationery Badge?

If you’re moving to France with kids then you need to get yourself acquainted with stationery and lots of it.  I’m not talking about your light weight WH Smith range I’m talking about hard-core stationery that you never even knew existed! If you’re into a bit of stationery then you will love France. I’d go so far as to say you will need a stationery cupboard at home. There I’ve said it. They don’t mention that on their renovating forums now do they?

This is just for my youngest going into CE1 (aka year 1 but really Year 3 in UK)

Now I’m 43 and I’d like to think I’ve seen a fair amount of stationery in my time – I thought WH Smith had a pretty good range but nope. You ain’t see nothing yet until you move to France.  In supermarkets, there are entire aisles dedicated to the stuff. Never mind the cliché roads, healthcare, wine, cheese etc. Stationery lovers you need to move here. You will not get a higher binder fix then a pop down to your local Carrefour I can tell you.

Now for those non believers who think they’ve seen it all – did you know that clear plastic wallets (you know the ones that protect your piece of paper type) come in a flimsy plastic binder so that they are collated together? Did you know a cardboard wallet can be made in numerous different ways and have elastic edges? Did you know that you can  buy an elongated A5 plastic wallet that has 3 folds in it to protect an A5 book? Did you know that there are different A4 plastic wallets that pop shut or have a window at the front? If you did then you, my friend, are a stationary expert and well on your way to obtaining your gold badge. For the rest of us…. this is a why?!!! type moment of epic proportions.


I mean everyone bangs on about learning the language but I’m sorry I think this has to supersede any attempts to communicate.

So, my advice to you is breathe. Do not freak out at the “to buy” list given by your school.  I will start with primary as I don’t want you hyper ventilating at the high school aka college stuff. I’m not at the lycee stage yet but by jove I’d like to think by then, I would be a stationery pro or at the very least well on my way to obtaining the silver stationery expert badge working towards gold.

chemise 2chemise 6

Most people will recommend that you google translate it. I would say google image it as this is far quicker and easier. Another way to tackle your list, apart from wandering aimlessly in a confused state around Carrefour (like you haven’t got enough on your plate!) is to go to this fab-u-lous site called RentreeDiscount.Com. This site has the pictures and the words so is far easier to understand.  Not only that, they deliver all the stuff by a man, that lets you know he’s on his way by sending you an email like this.


And then sends you another one like this!


How can you not trust this man to deliver to your house? However, I do think, in hindsight it may have been a tad cheaper in Carrefour but for a novice this was the business. Even if you don’t use them or a similar site at least you know what the stuff looks like. Now, if you really want to cut out the middle man there are shops that you can just hand over your list and they will get all the stuff for you.

Now you can expect your list to look like this. Once you are living here permanently you can get non means tested/means tested child benefit which will help with the cost of rentree and all the school supplies. Not to mention their school meals.

This was CP aka reception so pretty bronze level stationary.

And, sorry, brace yourself for the college list…….breathe… I said breathe!


Oh and don’t forget you have to buy all their pens, pencils, felt tip pens, pencil case, glue sticks – loads of glue sticks, ruler, rubber and let us not forget their rucksac aka cartable/sac. Now, they can be expensive here (like most things) so I bought a Harry Potter wheelie bag from ebay for my youngest. Do not get a bag with wheels on for your college child. It’s not cool. Bad backs are cool at this age plus getting hypothermia from not wearing a coat. But your little primary one – wheelie bag is a must as they will topple over with the weight of the stuff.

My youngest is becoming more French than English and now wants a bag like his friends – which is the square type one as this keeps their binders nice. He’ll have to wait until next year and for now Harry Potter will have to do.


And that my friends is a little insight into the French stationary world. You’re welcome!

10 thoughts on “What Colour Is Your Stationery Badge?”

  1. This post made me laugh, because I can relate so much. I reckon I spend at least 100euros or more on stationaries, not mentioning other stuff that my son loses or need during the year. Carrefour is good, but expensive too. I dread back to school and miss the cheap shops back in the UK where you can get quality stationery for half the price!


    1. Thank you! It’s very over whelming for the first timer here in France and yes totally agree everything is cheaper in the UK and I miss paperchase but they deliver here in France! I’m definitely stocking up on stationery if and when I go back!


  2. I was so glad to find your humourous and informative blog. I just did not put a bookmark, and I needed really many attempts to find it again!

    I got fascinated by the Mediterranean way of life for almost 20 years ago, when we spent our honeymoon (my 2 children with us :D) in Corfu, Greece. Since then I have dreamed of having a second home in the Mediterranean… Now I am saving money and trying to convince my husband of the idea!

    It is good to read about the experiences of others, and the more honest the better… Of course it is different to spend your holidays in a foreign country than to move permanently into a new culture, but still I find expat blogs very useful.

    P.S. Actually, I think I found the Mediterranean “mañana” way of life already here in Finland, when I moved to the country where my husband had his house… First, if you call an electrician or a plumber, they say they will come “tomorrow” or “next week”, and may appear a month later or not at all! Second, as a Bohemian I use to serve the dinner very late, at about 9 or 10 p.m. – of course not because of my poor organizing skills but because I want to get accustomed to the Mediterranean lifestyle… 😉


    1. Thank you for comments I hope you save enough to buy your dream home. I have removed the link but your URL is still attached to your name should people wish to have a look! Sounds lovely all the best!


  3. Glad I found your blog! I think it’s going to be very useful/amusing as we begin our new French endeavours. Thanks.


      1. Correze near Treignac. In the PNR Millevaches. Beginning our French adventure the hard way!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s