Our colleagues from RTL 5 Minutes played the "game" of back-to-school shopping to see if school supplies are cheaper in Luxembourg or in France.

With less than a month to go before the start of the new school year (15 September in Luxembourg, 1 September in the French department of Moselle), it's time for parents to purchase new school supplies for their children.

But where are school supplies cheapest? In France or in Luxembourg? Our colleagues from RTL 5 Minutes decided to put it to the test, by going to a shop in Luxembourg (Auchan Kirchberg), which has rather competitive prices, and to a supermarket in Moselle (Leclerc Thionville).Right off the bat, our RTL 5 Minutes colleagues noticed what is obvious for parents used to shopping prior to the start of the new school year: trying to honour all of the wishes of the schools and/or the teachers can very quickly lead to exasperation.From the "Stop system" compass missing from the shelves, the sold out unbreakable triple tape measure, the set of six neutral key dividers (recycled cardboard, 220g, A4 format), to the unobtainable 24x32 cm quilted notebook with 140 pages, four indexes, and a polypropylene cover (a big trend, apparently, the soft plastic cover): the parents our colleagues spoke to in the supermarket aisles were not always able to hide their frustration. "All the teachers have taken it upon themselves to ask for 48-page notebooks, and there are never any available," one person grumbled in an aisle in France. Fortunately, in some stores such as Auchan, employees serve as "school supply sat-navs" for parents on the verge of fainting.


© Raphaël Ferber/RTL 5minutes

The list of school supplies

For this test, our colleagues have taken inspiration from a list of school supplies provided by a school in Luxembourg, while adding a few basic items listed on the website of the French Ministry of Education: tape, a pencil case, and a backpack. Of course, in reality, it is not always useful to buy certain items from one year to the next, but they are essential if you are starting from scratch. For this comparison, our colleagues thus decided to start with a common list, adapted to the start of the new school year in the last year of primary school: CM2 (in France) and cycle 4 (in Luxembourg).While our colleagues tried to find identical supplies on both sides of the border, favouring branded products and not taking into account special offers so as not to distort the price differences, this was not always possible. Some brands of school supplies cannot be found either at Auchan Kirchberg or at Leclerc in Thionville. In this case, they selected a product of similar quality. Sometimes, the sheer rarity of the product limited choice as well. The infamous unbreakable tape measure, for instance, was only available from Staedtler at Auchan. As a last resort, our colleagues went looking for the material online.


The list of school supplies prepared by our RTL 5 Minutes colleagues cost a little more in Luxembourg (€148.70) than in Moselle (€132.68). The price difference is thus not as significant as some may have thought.

Our colleagues report that they have sometimes found higher quality equipment in the Grand Duchy (such as Maped Diamond ambidextrous scissors), although the plethora of choice allows shoppers to opt for cheaper equipment.

In Thionville, on the other hand, the choice was more limited, with the shop focusing on cheap brands and simply not stocking top-of-the-range brands.

Item                                   Price in Luxembourg    Price in France              
Eastpak backpack €39.90 €39.90
Pencil case €5.99 (Herlitz animaux) €5.75 (Teo Jamsin Collège)
Scotch tape €1.95 (Auchan) €1.15 (Leclerc)
Microfiber cloth (20X20cm) €1.49 (Auchan) €0.65 (Maped)
Dry wipe slate, 1 plain side 1 lined side €2.75 (Maped Flex) €1.89 (Maped Flex)
Original 4 colour Bic pen €1.90 €1.10
Calculator (CASIO FX Junior Plus) €6.49 €14.94
Ambidextrous scissors, plastic handles, pointed tips, self-sharpening stainless steel blades 17cm€7.99 (Maped Diamond) €3.95 (Maped Zenoa) 
White glue stick 21g  €3.39 (2 UHU) €4.95 (2 UHU)
"Stop System" compass  €3.89 (Maped Bureauvallée) €3.22 (Maped)
Recycled cardboard case of 12 coloured pencils 17cm €3.69 €1.85
Box of 12 standard graphite pencils HB €0.69 (4 Bic) X3 €0.70 (4 Bic) X3
set square 16cm  €1.19 (Maped) €0.94 (Maped)
Plastic eraser  €2.65 (2 Staedtler) €1.30 (Maped Architecte) X2
Unbreakable triple tape measure€3.99 (Staedtler)  €2.95 (Maped)
Roller ball pen with cartridge  €4.95 (Staedtler) €1.10 (Leclerc)
Box of short blue ink cartridges  €3.45 (Pilot V5 refillable)€3.09 (Pilot V5 refillable Cultura) 
Pack of 4 assorted broad line markers  €5.99 (36 Pelikan)€1.50 (20 Maped) X2 
Single-hole pencil sharpener with container €5.99 (Stabilo) €3.90 (Stabilo)
Document protector soft cover polypropylene €2.35 (Staedtler Switch color)  €2.30 (Maped Tonic Metal)
10 x 96-page 17X22 draft notebooks  €5.99 (Exacompta)€4.50 (Viquel) 
Set of 12 polypropylene dividers €2.15 (5 Auchan) X2  €0.39 (1 Eco+) X10
A4 size, assorted colours  €3.09 (Auchan) €0.65 (Leclerc)
Notebook 96 pages polypropylene cover with 2 flaps 24X32cm lined red  €2.90 (Clairefontaine) €2.90 (Clairefontaine)
Notebook 96 pages polypropylene cover with 2 flaps 24X32cm lined purple €2.90 (Clairefontaine)  €2.90 (Clairefontaine)
Notebook 96 pages with polypropylene cover and 2 flaps 24X32cm lined colourless €2.90 (Clairefontaine)  €2.90 (Clairefontaine)
Notebook 96 pages polypropylene cover with 2 flaps 17X22cm lined orange €1.99 (Clairefontaine)  €1.90 (Oxford)
Lever arch file, A4 size, 5cm spine, dark blue  €7.99 (Leitz)€6.45 (Leitz) 
Polypropylene binder, A4 size, 5cm spine, purple  €3.99 (Exacompta) €3.00 (Exacompta)
3-flap folder with elastic bands in purple glossy card   €0.59 (Exacompta) €2.25 (Oxford)
Total €148.70 €132.68