If you've always dreamed of spending a semester or a year in a foreign country, you're not alone. According to the Institute of International Education, more than 270,000 American students spent at least a semester abroad during the 2009-2010 academic year, and around 300,000 students will study abroad in 2012-2013. Almost 20,000 of them will be in France. And you want to be one of them!
With the ranks of study abroad students increasing steadily, you have more varied opportunities for study abroad in France and for having an amazing experience than ever before.
You can attend a study abroad fair where fifty different programs are vying for your attention and tuition dollars, tempting you with promises of weekend excursions to the countryside, personalized tutoring sessions for all of your classes, and discounted room and board. You have choices.
No matter what program you choose, your program's coordinators are going to do their best to give you the best study abroad experience they can, from organizing your classes in the local university to organizing all of these outings they promised. But you want to be proactive, too. Ultimately, the success of your semester or summer abroad is in your own hands, and you don't want to return home in a few months only to realize that you never really did make any French friends, and all of the travel you did was outside of Europe.
The best thing to do is to learn as much as you can about the resources available to you and to use them all to create your own ideal experience abroad! Here are our top 72 resources for studying abroad in France.
Administrative and General Information
With thousands of international students descending on France every year and an Anglophone population numbering in the hundreds of thousands, there are lots of great French and English language resources for living in Paris and navigating all of the administrative aspects of living and studying in France. Check out these top resources if you ever have a question about anything from student restaurants (CROUS) to calling a plumber to signing up as an autoentrepreneur:
- Campus France, the official site for international students in France. In English, Spanish, and French.
- CNOUS – Centre National des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires; the site for university students in France with information on resources available at each university.
- Un Etudiant dans la Ville – Guide de la Mairie de Paris. The city of Paris releases an annual guide for students. (in French).
- Paris Unraveled: The Student's Guide to Living and Studying in France, with lots of practical information in English about daily life and student life in France. Includes an English-language guide to hundreds of free activities for visitors and residents alike.
- Anglo Info, a site for Anglophone expatriates living in France, with practical information on everything from banking to buying property.
- Le Nouvel Observateur Etudiants – n°18 La vraie cote des diplômes, a magazine issue on the various French universities and their diplomas.
French Culture and Living in France
If you want to connect with other students in France, French or American, learn about French culture, or read about other students' study abroad experiences, there are lots of sites that bring young travelers and study abroaders together. Here are some of the best:
- My French Life, a blog on daily living in France with practical information and anecdotes; a francophile & French Community magazine.
- Francophilia, a site on news and culture from France.
- Paris Expat Guide to Paris, articles and information on living in France as an expat.
- Matador Travel Europe Forums, travel forums where you can ask questions about living or traveling in Europe.
- TravMonkey.com, a site that compiles all of the best blogs from travelers around the world.
Student Activities and Groups
One of the best ways to make friends and really enjoy France is to get involved with student life. Several French websites are dedicated to getting the word out about all of the different student groups, activities, and trips that exist all over France. Check these out to get started:
- Paris Etudiant: All kinds of resources for students in Paris, from forums to job ads to ads for events.
- Erasmus Student Network, a site for international students studying abroad.
- Maison des Initiatives Etudiantes, a directory of independent student associations in Paris. (in French).
- Etudiant de Paris, Student-written guidebook to Paris. (in French).
- Club International des Jeunes de Paris, a group of international students who plan activities and excursions in and around Paris.
Student Deals and Discounts
The last thing you want to do while studying abroad is to go over your budget, and it's hard to know how much things cost in a foreign country when you first arrive. Check out these websites to find discounts and deals for students and young people alike, so you can make those hard-earned travel dollars stretch as far as possible:
- Buypacker, a groupon-like site with exclusive deals for students in the Paris area.
- Les Bons Plans Imagine-R, a list of the student discounts available with the student metro pass.
- Paris Bons Plans, a guide to deals and discounts all over Paris.
- Site officiel de l'Office du Tourisme, an official guide to free and discounted activities published by the Paris Tourism Office. (in English, French, and Spanish).
Exploring and Going Out on the Town
If you're looking for something to do in France, there are TONS of sites that list upcoming activities and events for all ages and all price ranges. Some of the best sites are updated frequently and make it easy to find out what's going on:
- Allociné, a guide to movies currently playing in France and movie listings. (in French).
- Spectacles-Premiers, a guide to current performances in Paris. (in French).
- Nouveau Paris, a guide to current events, expositions, and shows in Paris. (in French).
- Cool Stuff in Paris, as its name suggests, a guide to cool stuff to do in Paris.
- Paris Update, a free weekly review of Paris restaurants, art exhibitions, and Paris events.
- WhyGo Paris, another resource highlighting stuff to do in Paris.
- Girls' Guide to Paris, a guide to things to do in Paris, including downloadable walking tours.
- Paris Rues, a guide to different walking tours of Paris.
- Evous, a directory of events and things to do in Paris. (in French)
- Sortir à Paris, articles on events and festivals in Paris. (in French).
- Cityzens, a guide to events and things to do in Paris. (in French).
Whether you want to find an apartment for your summer internship or apply for a job, there are few truly valuable advertisement sites. Here are some of them:
- FUSAC, short for France USA Contacts, is a monthly magazine and website with job and apartment listings for Anglophones.
- A vendre a louer, apartment rentals in Paris. (in French).
- Acheter-Louer, apartment rentals in Paris. (in French).
- Adele, apartment rentals in Paris for students. (in French).
- Colocation, room rentals with French students in Paris. (in French).
- Particulier à particulier, apartment rentals in Paris. (in French).
- Ebay Annonces, job listings, free/used furniture and household items. (in French).
Academic and Language
Regardless of how many years of French you've had, writing assignments and doing research in a foreign language can be daunting. Check out these resources to brush up your French skills, find books for your upcoming term papers, or find guides on writing French-style assignments.
- Etudes Littéraires, a guide to writing papers in French, with lots of academic vocabulary for various disciplines.
- Dictionary of French Expressions, handy for daily interactions
- French Thesaurus (Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms)
- Trésor de la Langue Française, comprehensive historical French dictionary.
- Online Catalogue of Paris Libraries
- Transparent Language, free online French classes
- French Today, online French classes
- French Language Classes, courtesy of BBC
We certainly hope you never have a problem with enrollment, immigration, or working in France, but just to be safe, these organizations can help you be aware of your rights and responsibilities while you're living in France.
- LegiSocial, guide to workers' rights in France. (in French).
- Union Nationale des Etudiants de France, national student union. The unions can help you know your rights if you run into problems with immigration or with employers. (in French).
- Préfecture de Police, the Police department's official site on immigration and visas. (in French).
Paris Guide Books
You don't really need info about hotels while you're studying abroad, and most of the restaurants in tour books are out of your budget anyway, so ditch the tourist guidebooks while you're living in France and get a guidebook geared towards Parisians. Not only will you find much better deals, you'll avoid some of the places that only tourists go.
- Paris 0€ 2012-2013 Edition, available on Amazon
- Balad0€, available on Amazon
- Paris Pas Cher 2016, available on Amazon
- Lonely Planet Paris Student Guide, available on Amazon
If you have a smartphone, a whole slew of applications will help you to navigate Paris, understand artwork in museums, find free wifi, and improve your language skills. Check out some of our top picks for the best apps in Paris, and read about 32 other must-have iPhone apps for living in Paris if you still need more:
- RATP, 0.79€, the official app of the Paris/Ile-de-France transportation system.
- L'Officiel des Galéries et Musées, free, provides information on tickets, artists, and museum hours.
- Trésors de France, free, frovides historical and cultural information about France's historic monuments.
- Le Parisien Sortie, free, information on all of the current cultural events and festivals going on in France.
- L'Internaute Restos, free, search for nearby restaurants by price or by type of cuisine, view menus, and read customer reviews.
- Free Wifi Paris, 0.79€, Find free wifi anywhere in Paris with this app.
- Radio France, free, listen to official French radio stations anywhere and practice your French comprehension.
Any awesome resources we're missing?! Let us know!
Photos courtesy of Allison Lounes, author and Andrew Dunkle.