World-famous museums. Internationally-recognized monuments. Two millennia of history. Culinary reverence. Iconic fashion, iconic attitude, romance, philosophy, age-old tradition, rude people – Paris has all but surpassed international notoriety, and for good reason. Paris is quite literally the perfect place to learn French
Over the course of 2,000 years, Paris has seen countless conquests, emperors, enlightenments, revolutions and wars that have shaped it into the brimming international capital of culture, history and academia that it is today. Studying abroad in Paris is any student’s dream – you’ll have no shortage of opportunity in one of the most aesthetically pleasing, culturally rich, and academically stimulating cities in the world.
This page has everything you'll need to get started. Read our expert guide to finding a French Language School in Paris. Then read reviews and choose a Language School from the list below. You'll be well on your way to French fluency!
Most Parisians speak at least basic English, and jump at the opportunity to practice it – get used to speaking in French with broken responses in English while you’re still in the early stages of learning. This means that you’ll want to immerse yourself in as many situations as possible that allow you to practice to get over the hump. But with such huge student and international populations, opportunity is rife. Like the bustle of the city, Parisians speak quickly – take some time to understand common contractions like “t’as” instead of “tu as”, or “chui” instead of “je suis”.
As an international hub of Europe, there are limitless opportunities by which to learn French in Paris. There is no shortage of universities, courses, classes, meet-ups, language exchanges, homestays, private teachers and more to dive right in – but get started before you even arrive, because language-learning can get pricy in the City of Lights. Consider your language learning goals and your budget, and decide what programs or courses are right for you.
If you plan to make a lot of progress learning French in Paris, hiring a private teachers and participating in language exchanges are excellent ways to make quick headway. Private teachers are able to give you direct, one-on-one attention that will allow you to reap the full benefit of their experience. They’re also great if you need a flexible schedule, or want to focus on particular subjects. However, private tutors are pricy - you can pay anywhere from 15-50E per hour for their time. You might consider supplementing your private lessons with a language meet-up or conversation exchange – check out Polyglot, where more than 100 people meet up each Tuesday night with the sole purpose of avoiding speaking their native language. Be sure to also have a look at Conversation Exchange, where you can organize a one-on-one rendezvous with a native French speaker near you.
Paris additionally welcomes thousands of international students every year, and has an outstanding network of exchange programs for students in any degree program or simply seeking to learn French. Most universities supplement their standard course loads with intensive French language courses for study abroad students – if you’re a current student in the U.S., consult your local study abroad office to see what kind of programs are available for you. For everyone else, start your search at CampusFrance, which has a wealth of information on available language and study programs. Lastly, the Mairie de Paris (French City Council), offers a number of discounted courses in French.
Cultural Immersion / Extracurricular Activities
With more than one in five residents of the Paris region being born outside of France, Paris is a truly cosmopolitan city – any sizeable amount of time in Paris would not be complete without exploring some of the many ethnic enclaves scattered throughout Paris. Ethnic neighborhoods generally see far fewer tourists than the traditional Paris, leaving lots of opportunity to practice your French. Check out Le Marche Dejean (Dejean Market) in the Goutte d’Or neighborhood of the 18th arrondisement, where you’ll hear many African dialects of French. But beware – you’ll feel like you’ve left Paris without even boarding a train!
While only 33 square miles, Paris is enveloped in a limitless swath of history, culture, fashion, academia, architecture and fine art – there is never a dull moment. The River Seine dissects the city into a left (South) and right (North) bank, both of which have distinctive personalities. Paris is further divided into 20 districts, called arrondisements, with the Ile de la Cite at the heart of Paris – and also of tourist activity. Do you want a taste of old school Paris? Stroll through the Bohemian Latin Quarter on the Left Bank – the cultural cradle of Paris. You’ll find warmly-lit cafés frequented by students and academics, giving you a feel for Paris’ intellectual heyday.
For an edgier Paris, head toward The Marais or The Bastille on the Right Bank, where you’ll find century-old buildings and winding alleyways brimming with avant-garde performance spaces, bustling bars and fashionable restaurants. Finally, if you’ve had enough of the tourists – head out further to Belleville in the 19th, where bustling ethnic neighborhoods are sandwiched between two magnificent parks, each deserving of their own explorations.
Costs & Funding
There are literally thousands of scholarships available for language-learners coming to Paris, however many available scholarships are geared toward students. The Gilman International Scholarship offers up to $5,000 for undergraduate students who currently receive the Federal Pell Grant. The highly prestigious Fulbright Scholarship awards more than 8,000 grants annually to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university lecturing, and classroom teaching. For a comprehensive list of scholarships, see the CampusFrance Directory of Grants.
Cost of living in Paris ranges from expensive to exorbitant. But don’t fret – students and young professionals often pick up decent-paying side jobs, like English tutoring or babysitting, to bring monthly costs down. You’ll need to budget at least $1500 per month, with $2000-$3000 being a much more comfortable range.
A furnished room in a flat-share begins around 500E ($680) and can range up to 1500E ($2040). If you’re willing to live in a single-room apartment or in the outskirts of Paris, prices begin to drop dramatically. Paris is famous for its “Chambe de Bonne”, converted maids’ quarters that are generally on the top floor of many apartment buildings. These rooms can range from tiny to moderate, are no-frills, and typically have communal showers. Prices range from 350E to 600E – but they can get lonely in the colder months.
Students and those aged under 26 are eligible for a discounted metro card (Carte Imagine’R), beginning at around 35E per month – the standard rate is around 65E monthly (see pricing and information, in French). Student discounts are common, so be sure to keep a look out. Restaurant meals range from 10E on the low end to 50E on the high – for the cheapest restaurants and eats, try ethnic Quarters like the L’inde à Paris in the 10th, or pick up some world-renowned falafel along Rue des Rosiers in the 4th.
Why Learn French in Paris?
In Paris, you get to go to the Louvre and the Museé D’Orsay for class credit. There are literally hundreds of student activities to take part in throughout the city, and more than a dozen universities creating a vibrant student culture. There are more than 400 parks within the 33 square miles of Paris, and an incredible community of international citizens. If you want a truly authentic, mind-opening and challenging experience in your quest to learn French, look no further than Paris.