Absolutely not. I went to culinary school first, then did an apprenticeship. It really depends on what you want for your cooking career. The more you put into your education, the more you will get out of it at the end.
I am sure that knowing french will help you in France, but I am not sure about if the school would cater you in english or not. Is there a particular reason you want to go to France to learn?
If I saw that you are commited to something and follow it through, maybe. For me though, I would base it off of your passion for cooking. Maybe both. I make that decision on a case by case basis.
I would say yes, it is a leg up. Thing is, jobs come easier by relationships. What apprenticing would do is get you networking with other students. Your relationship to your chef will be vastly important as well.
[quote]Finally (and probably most importantly), how do I find an apprenticeship?[quote]
Work at a company that is known for apprentising. Work hard. Demonstrate to the coordinator of the apprentiships (be it the chef or someone else) that you are serious about the trade. Show initiative. Ask. That's how I did it.
No problem. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.