While learning about the different faculty jobs in France, I discovered that the two different ranks of faculty are subdivided in classes: maitre de conférence are sorted in "normal class" and "outstanding class", while professors are sorted in "second class", "first class", "exceptional class". You start in the lowest class and if you're good you can be promoted.
From an outsider perspective I could not find any difference other than salary. However reading the history of these ranks they used to correspond to, I think:
- maitre-assistant -> new maitre de conférence
- old maitre de conférence -> professor "second class"
- non-titular professor -> professor "first class"
- professor titular of a chair -> professor "exceptional class"
Today, other than salary, does the class change anything? Does a higher class faculty have more weight with the university or something? More responsibility? Or is it purely financial?