Grandes écoles are uniquely French
and don't, to the best of my knowledge
, exist anywhere else in the world. They're vaguely parallel to university
level education but the typical course lasts 3 years and is vocation-centric
. They tend to focus on specialised subject areas and are generally well known for their high quality of teaching and research.
Traditionally, before you could enter a grande école you had to pass the concours commun. This envolves two years of gruelling study at an école préparatoire which wipes out a student's life for the duration. The effect of then releasing them back into society is that they spend a lot of their time partying and drinking too much.