The paper begins by outlining recent reforms of initial teacher training in France, changes aimed at moving French teacher training away from its traditional focus on subject knowledge and pedagogic theory towards a stronger emphasis on classroom practice issues such as teaching and learning strategies and motivating reluctant learners. It goes on to examine the perceptions of some French trainee teachers; for example, how well prepared they felt for the challenges ahead and their training and support whilst on placement. Their responses reveal concern about the appropriateness and variability of some of their training, particularly school-based elements and mentor support. The responses also raise some interesting comparisons with experience in the UK and other European countries, all of whom are debating matters such as teacher accountability, societal expectations of the education system and how teachers should be trained. These comparative issues will be the focus for further research.