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New Montessori middle-school class in Sophia-Antipolis


Les Colibris MontessoriFor the parents of middle-school-aged kids, searching for a collège can be tough, especially if your child has grown up in a Montessori education system. But this September, one of the first bi-lingual Montessori middle-schools in France opens right here in Sophia-Antipolis. They have an open house this Saturday, 6 June to check out the school. We bring you an article from our January school special*...

After years of requests and even demands from students and parents alike, the Montessori International school Les Colibris has added a collège, or middle-school, to their class offering. Already providing attentive, bilingual care and education for nursery, pre-school and elementary children, the new class will continue the holistic and independent Montessori programme for 12-15 year-olds.

Riviera Insider spoke with Pedagogical Director, Gina Wattel, who describes the new junior high as “a great adventure!” She has always wanted to have all different ages in her Montessori school and this new class grows their bilingual learning environment that has become so popular with local international families.

The premise of Montessori, which believes in bringing out the innate intelligence of each child, is very different from the traditional schooling model. Children in these classrooms are not spoon-fed information in order to pass an exam - instead, they are given specific tools designed for their developmental level that they explore either on their own or with classmates. Projects are designed to teach children by doing rather than just reading and reciting. “The children love what they are doing because they engage,” explains Gina.

Many parents, even those at first sceptical of the Montessori method have become devoted supporters after seeing their children blossom in both knowledge and creativity. It is also a blessing for families with children who struggle in the highly-structured French school system. Gina swells with pride when the parents see the results and ask for more classes: “I’m so happy and fulfilled that the parents are requesting this; it means they are consciously planning their child’s education.” Giving an example of how much discussion couples make before purchasing a car or a house, the director notes that families will often not discuss a long-term education plan for their child.

For years, Directors Gina and Nicolas Wattel have been working on adding the next phase of the school. Much preparation has gone into the new class because the curriculum and environment are completely different for the older students. The foundation of the Montessori Method is based around creating a classroom that meets the developmental stages of the children. In the earliest classes, the learning tools are designed for developing sensory awareness and fine motor skills. Then on to language, mathematics, problem-solving, etc. At the adolescent phase, the classroom is designed to teach life skills and responsibilities. The classroom environment is therefore structured like a home, with a kitchen and working area that the students must keep up. They work on projects together, create products which they sell at their own market and much more. The national French curriculum is met through a series of projects and interdisciplinary work, often with visiting professionals from different fields such as local engineers and experts who give hands-on demonstrations.

The new collège for 12 - 15-year-olds will start in September 2020 and will be the first bi-lingual French/English Montessori Collège in the Alpes-Maritimes. Applications for the new class will be taken during their open days (next date 6 June), or through an individual appointment. The school welcomes the community to come and check out the school. “We want parents and children to come to see the classrooms, to see the environment and get a feel for our wonderful school.”

For more information, visit their website:

Les Colibris École Montessori International 
3735 route des Dolines
06410 Biot
Tel: +33 04 93 63 29 96


*This article is an advertorial from our January/February 2020 School Special.