How to apply to pastry school in France

I’m currently a pastry student at Ferrandi in France, and wanted to share my application process. At the time that I applied, it was hard for me to find first hand accounts of what the process looked like online. Hopefully this can help you decide which French pastry program is right for you!

Please note that this is my perspective based on online research and emails with the schools. I can only speak to the actual experience at Ferrandi, so I have not attended Ecole Ducasse or Le Cordon Bleu.

My background and goals for pastry school

Before pastry school, I worked as a product manager at a software startup. For me, baking was a serious hobby, one that I was super passionate about but I had no professional experience.

I decided to take a year off from work and go to pastry school. Part of the reason was because I wanted to pursue my passion, but another reason was that I was seriously burnt out from work and needed a break. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue pastry fulltime as a career, but I did want to try baking 35 – 40 hours a week to see if I would enjoy that level of intensity around baking.

So here were my primary goals for going to pastry school:

  • Learn how to be a better baker
  • Improve my recipe development and food theory skills for my blog
  • Experiment with my career
  • Have fun and recover from professional burn out

Establishing my criteria for pastry school

When researching programs, I started by establishing a set of criteria that were important to me. This helped guide my search and reach a decision on where to apply.

  • Location: I knew I wanted to study in France because it’s the heart of pastry and gastronomy. I’ve also always wanted to live abroad as an adult, so thought this would be the perfect chance to do so.
  • Length: I wanted the program to last 6 months to a year to make sure I was really immersed in baking and pastry, without it taking multiple years to complete.
  • Content: I wanted a comprehensive overview of French pastry techniques with a significant amount of time spent in the kitchen baking.
  • Language: At the point that I applied, I didn’t speak any French so I needed a program taught in English and designed for international students
  • Having fun: This criteria might seem a little silly, but I wanted to make sure that I would have fun and enjoy both baking and life outside of the program. Part of my goal was to recover from professional burnout, and I didn’t want to continue to burn out at pastry school.

With this criteria in mind, I began Googling “best pastry programs in France for international students”

Comparing different international pastry programs

After doing research, I landed on three options for pastry school in France:

I then did quite a bit of emailing with each of the programs to get a better understanding of what the day to day of the program would like like

Program length

Each of the programs were between 6 – 9 months, but what I found to be the most important comparison criteria was hours of course time rather than total length.

This was because for Le Cordon Bleu’s program, while it was 9 months total, each week only had 15 hours of baking, so an average of 3 hours per day. That felt very low to me and not enough time to really improve my skills in the kitchen.

Here’s a breakdown of each of the program’s hours at the time that I applied:

  • Ferrandi – 560 hours total, with 70% spent on pastry workshop and 30% spent on masterclass and field trips and theory classes
  • Ecole Ducasse – 642 hours total, broken into 528 hours of pastry workshop, 24 hours of applied pastry technology, 16 hours of masterclass and field trips, 74 hours of theory class
  • Le Cordon Bleu – 514 hours total, broken roughly half / half into theory class + demos and applied pastry workshop
    • Based on the syllabus they sent me, it seems that some of the theory classes are videos rather than live demonstrations. Demonstrations also take place in an auditorium rather than close up with the chef. Both of these things were not appealing to me.

It was very difficult for to get this information from Le Cordon Bleu, and required emailing their team directly.

Program syllabus

The program syllabuses and content between the 3 schools were fairly similar, covering a range of French pastry techniques such as:

  • Choux pastry
  • Tarts
  • Chocolate work
  • Confectionary
  • Bread & viennoiserie
  • Petits fours
  • Travel cakes
  • Ice cream and sorbet
  • Entremets
  • Petits gateaux

However where Ferrandi and Ecole Ducasse stood out from Le Cordon Bleu was their supplementary classes and experiences.

Ferrandi offers supplementary classes and experiences in the following:

  • Professional Visits and Field Trips, including an overnight final trip
  • Wine and beverage pairings
  • Art
  • French
  • A final creativity project where you design and make your own dessert

Ecole Ducasse offers supplementary classes and experiences in the following:

  • Professional Visits and Field Trips
  • Food Photography
  • French

Overall, I felt that Ferrandi and Ecole Ducasse had more comprehensive and thoughtful content for their programs.

Program location

  • Ferrandi: Paris or Dijon
  • Ecole Ducasse: Yssingeaux
  • Le Cordon Bleu: Paris

Ecole Ducasse’s location was a major downside for me. Yssiingeaux is a fairly small town that is not located near any major cities. I was worried that I would feel isolated and not be able to really experience living in a different country.

Program cost

Cost is of course an important factor when deciding between programs. The schools have raised the costs in 2024, but here is around what they were when I applied:

  • Ferrandi – 23,000 euros
  • Ecole Ducasse – 27,000 euros
  • Le Cordon Bleu – 30,000 euros

As you can see, Ferrandi was the most affordable which was a big plus for me. I also found it interesting that Le Cordon Bleu’s program had the least applied hours of school, but was the most expensive.

Class size

As I continued researching, I realized that class size could impact my experience quite a bit. I prefer smaller more intimate environments where I can ask a lot of questions

  • Ferrandi: 10 – 14 per class
  • Ecole Ducasse: max of 12 per class
  • Le Cordon Bleu: I could not find any information online


At the point that I applied to school, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do an internship as I was extremely burnt out from work. However, I was not opposed against doing an internship if the opportunity was available.

  • Ferrandi: Optional 3 – 6 month internship
  • Ecole Ducasse: Optional 8 week internship
  • Le Cordon Bleu: 4 month internship if you apply to the Diploma with Internship Pathway

French Patisserie vs Boulangerie programs

As part of my research process, I learned about “boulangerie” courses. In the United States where I’m from, there isn’t a real distinction between patisserie and boulangerie. It’s all under the category of “baking.” However in France there’s “patisserie” which focuses more on tarts, cakes, and pastry, and “boulangerie” which focuses more on bread baking. Viennoiserie (croissants, flaky pastries, brioche) is where patisserie and boulangerie tend to intersect.

So if you’re more interested in learning how to bake bread and leavened baked goods, then boulangerie programs might be a better fit for you than pastry programs.

Why I chose Ferrandi’s Intensive Pastry Program

After looking through all the programs, I was most impressed by Ferrandi and Ecole Ducasse. Le Cordon Bleu felt more like a “pastry school machine” designed to get as many students through as possible to maximize profit margins. In contrast, I felt like Ferrandi and Ecole Ducasse really focused on applied baking time and ensuring that students would have a good experience.

I did have a slight preference for the length of Ecole Ducasse’s program, as it gave me more time in the kitchen. In the end, the decision came down to location. I wanted to be in a major city, so I chose Ferrandi Paris.

Application process

The application process was very straightforward. I filled out an online application with a short statement of purpose and my resume. About a week later, I heard back from Ferrandi scheduling a 30 minute interview.

About a week after the interview, I was officially admitted to the program.

Do you need baking experience in order to apply to pastry programs?

No, all three of these programs are designed for complete beginners.


May: I started seriously considering quitting my job and going to pastry school

June – August: I weighed the decision and started researching programs

First week of September: Applied to Ferrandi

Last week of September: Accepted to Ferrandi

October – December: Prepared logistics for moving to Paris (student visa, housing)

February: Moved to Paris and started school

Summary Comparison Table between French Pastry Schools

SchoolLengthCostCourse HoursTime in labOther classesLocation
Ferrandi4 mo school, 3 – 6 mo optional internship~€23 – 24K560> 70%Wine, Art, French, TheoryParis or Dijon
Ecole Ducasse5.5 mo school, 2 mo optional internship~€27K642> 80%Food science, French, Food PhotographyYssingeaux
Le Cordon Bleu9 mo school (standard) or 3 mo (intensive)€30K514~ 50%n/aParis
Comparing different French pastry schools for international students

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