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visas and schools in France (Nice)

Greetings all from the still freezing Toronto!

My family and I are planning a long trip to south of France, for about a year. We are Canadian, living in Toronto, and our two older kids are in the French Immersion schooling system. We would like them to attend school while in France. I tried getting some info through the French consulate but I need to book an appointment in order to speak to an officer and that will take a while. I was wondering if someone can offer information on two things - visas and schools. We know we have to get a long stay visa but are not sure how un/complicated this may be for Canadian citizens? Also, any info on attending public schools for expat kids in France?

Many thanks.

Maja Catic