Study Abroad

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France

Charlie J. Stoever
Topic Expert

Charlie is a freelance writer and traveler who studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France in college.

You've decided to study abroad, and you know that France -- a capital of style, culture, and food -- is the perfect destination for you. Now you're at the point of choosing a study abroad program in France? Quelle envie!

It might seem overwhelming, but choosing which city in France is perfect for you is actually a fun decision. From the cobblestone streets of Aix to the beaches of Nice, each city has its own personality. Each also has unique study abroad opportunities and programs.

These are the best cities for studying abroad in France because they are the most popular for students on Go Overseas and have the most program options for studying abroad. To choose which French city will be the best fit, read on; each section will dive into what makes that city a great destination to study abroad. By the end, we hope you'll find the one that calls out to you and one you'll call home for a semester or year in France.

#1 - Paris: The World's Top Destination -- For Good Reason

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Paris

The "City of Love" isn't just a perfect place for a honeymoon. The number of stunning museums, parks, bakeries, and cafes will have you falling head-over-heels in love with it; nevermind your opportunity to study abroad at some of the best universities in France.

While Paris is by far the most expensive French city to study abroad in, if you're able to make it work, you won't regret it. Whether you're picking up a chocolate croissant from a corner bakery or standing in front of the Mona Lisa, there's no shortage of pleasures to enjoy!

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Paris:

#2 - Nice: Mediterranean Breezes & Cultural Studies

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Nice

Found on France's southern shore, the Côte d'Azur, Nice is a chic mix of classic and contemporary. Its beaches, palm trees, and Mediterranean climate make if one of the most popular study abroad destinations in France.

After a long day of studies, head for the Promenade des Anglais, a 19th-century walkway that borders the sea and a gateway to Nice's sights. Don't miss the Cours Saleya, a popular city-wide fruit, vegetable and flower market.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Nice:

#3 - Grenoble: Mountain Air & Art

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Grenoble

This alpine city boasts more than snow. Five universities and a huge international student population are found here. While the vibe here is a bit more reserved than in a city like Paris, this is an excellent place to immerse yourself and learn as much French as you can. When you're not studying, skiing and snowboarding are a great way to unwind.

Want to stay indoors? The Musee de Grenoble houses pieces from almost every style of art. Or, head for La Musee de la Resistance et la Deportation, which explores Grenoble’s past role in The Resistance during World War II.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Grenoble:

#4. Aix-en-Provence: Fountains & Lavender Fields

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Aix-en-Provence

"Aix," the affectionate nickname of this southern French city, is famous for fountains. The Fontaine de la Rotonde is the city's largest, and its three statues symbolize the region's assets: Agriculture, Justice, and Fine Arts.

Architectural splendor aside, you can't study in Aix without taking a whiff of the local lavender sold in the markets. Even when I smell lavender soap at Whole Foods, I still think of my time studying in Aix and the ways the market vendors would speak French in an almost musical way. This city's magic has drawn artists like Paul Cézanne, who came to Aix to let their creative juices flow.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Aix-en-Provence:

#5 - Lyon: Finance, Art History & Architecture Combined

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Lyon

France's third largest city, Lyon boasts ancient Roman ruins dating back to 43 BC, when the city was founded. Exploring the well-preserved remnants of the civilization are a great way to take some time off studying.

Today, the “Capital of Lights” attracts bankers, art history buffs, and admirers of architecture. No matter what you're studying, though, you've got to eat, and luckily, Lyon is famed for being France's hub of gourmet gastronomy.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Lyon:

#6 - Cannes: Visual Art & Technology

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Cannes

If you "Cannes-not" live without your Netflix subscription, this is your place!

Known for the world's famous film festival, it's also a technology hub that some consider to be a mini Silicon Valley. Cannes is a relatively small town of less than 100,000, but you won't be bored here. Take a quick boat ride to Île Sainte-Marguerite to visit the prison cell where the Man In the Iron Mask was held captive. Come back and walk along the Rue Meynadier. Try some frittered courgette flowers (a specialty all along the Cote d'Azur), which are sometimes stuffed with cream cheese and seasoned with salt, parsley, and garlic.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Cannes:

#7 - Bordeaux: Wine Tourism & French Immersion

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Bordeaux

Wine tourists flock to Bordeaux in southwestern France every year, but don't let the number of foreigners distract you from practicing your French in class -- and outside the classroom too!

Aside from the wine, this city offers delicious pastries. If you're lucky, you might even get to live with someone who can teach you to make the traditional Bordelais pastry, a canelé. Take a study break and walk along the banks of the Garonne River, then explore the wine capital of the world's old town, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list for its urban architecture.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Bordeaux:

#8 - Montpellier: Historic Cathedrals & Modern Architecture

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Montpellier

Aix isn't the only city to consider in southern France. Take Montpellier, where mountains and The Mediterranean aren't too far away!

This is a quickly growing city known for its universities, as about one-fourth of its citizens are students. The centre historique is a medieval area with marbled alleys like L’Ancien Courrier. Once known as "Monte Pestalario," Montpellier's history is one of political activism and of cultures coexisting together.

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Montpellier:

#9 - Strasbourg: A Town Half-Timbered Fairytale Houses

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Strasbourg

Is it France or is it Germany? You may be wondering this as you're eating a plate of choucroute, a variety of sauerkraut. While this is a French city, it's influenced by German culture. French is spoken with a mild German accent, and some locals even speak Alsatian, a local dialect. If the thought of immersing yourself in both German and French cultures intrigues you, Strasbourg will be your jam!

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Strasbourg:

#10 - Caen: History Around Every Corner

The Best Cities for Studying Abroad in France: Caen

No, this isn't a misspelled version of "Cannes." Caen is just two hours north of Paris and sits near the coast of Normandy. It's very much a historical city, known as the city of William the Conqueror and as a key site of the Battle of Normandy during World War II. To honor those who fell during the war, the city built the Caen Memorial Museum.

If you prefer taking study breaks outside, this is the place for you, as you can enjoy hiking and horse riding. Oh, and practicing your French with fewer tourists around to tempt you into speaking English is très bon!

Popular Study Abroad Programs in Caen:

We could go on and on for une éternité about France's top cities to study in, but it's ultimately up to you to decide which to go with! Whether you go overseas for a semester or a year, there will be so much sightseeing, learning, and flaky croissants your way. Go forth, and explore the city you end up choosing in the marvelous country of France.