The shooting happened just after 8 a.m. local time in the city of Toulouse, shortly before classes were scheduled to begin.
A 30-year-old father and his sons, ages 3 and 6, were among those killed in the shooting. Another child, between 8 and 10 years old, was also killed. A 17-year-old was seriously injured.
Authorities said the gunman took off on a scooter. The motive for the shooting remains unknown.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied by a Jewish leader, was heading to the area.
It was the latest in a week of motorcycle shooting attacks in France. A gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine Thursday in Montauban in southern France, killing two and critically wounding the other.
Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse, about 30 miles away.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.