The teenager set himself ablaze in front of fellow students at a school in La Rochelle, The Local.fr reported. Other students were able to put the flames out before he was seriously burned.
He was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.
Although it is unclear why the boy set himself on fire, French media reported he was possibly copying a recent suicide and self-immolation committed by a man in the western city of Nantes.
That man set himself on fire in front of a job center because he had been refused access to benefits.
"It's true that we hear a lot about this in the media at the moment and it is possible others will try to the same. But to self-immolate is a very violent act. It is different to trying to take your own life with a gun," psychologist Emmanuelle Legrin told The Local.
"Perhaps it is because it is so violent and shocking and grabs the attention of the media that explains why the victims do it. They think the emergency services and doctors are more likely to react and will answer their call for help."