IES Abroad Arles

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About Program

Study abroad in Arles and discover this charming Provençal town. With a 2,000-year-old Roman arena at its center, Arles is famous for its beautiful architecture and its association with Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Picasso.

Many dance, music, photography, theater, and folklore festivals take place in and around the city throughout the summer, making it an ideal location for summer study in France.

Ready to immerse yourself in the French language and Provençal culture? Study abroad in Arles it is.

Program Highlights
  • Gain invaluable cultural and linguistic insight living with a host family in a homestay
  • Explore France on IES Abroad field trips. Past destinations have included Avignon, le Pont du Gard, and les Saintes-Mariesde-la-Mer
  • Advance French language learning with a French Language course and language intensive lunches
  • Enroll in Photography, Sociology, or Theatre Arts to complement French language learning
  • Get to know Arles through extracurricular activities and cultural events


IES Abroad Scholarships
IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

$500 - $5,000

Popular Programs

group of students on a balcony with the Arles skyline behind them on a sunny day

This program gives you a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in French language study, the culture of the Midi region of France, and French-taught interdisciplinary courses. Language-intensive lunches, conducted three days a week, allow you to practice your French with IES Abroad staff and professors while sampling the local cuisine. Fridays are reserved for field study activities and excursions organized by IES Abroad.

Program Reviews

9.27 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 90.91%
  • 7-8 rating 9.09%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 7.5
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 11
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Yes, I recommend this program

Full-immersion French experience? This is it!

I highly recommend IES to anyone looking for a trustworthy study abroad program. I went abroad with IES Arles for the summer of 2018 and I had an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The staff and administrators made themselves very available and accessible in various ways to provide a fun and safe environment. Professors and administrators encouraged students to push the limits of our comfort zones in terms of language barriers. As a result, I experienced rapid growth in my understanding of French language and culture. We had a couple locals that were our tour guides who showed us around the city, introducing us to their favorites spots to grab a bite, study, attend community events. On Fridays, trips were organized to explore neighboring cities and neighborhoods. I was also in France during their World Cup victory, making the experience even more memorable! I could only do a summer abroad with my schedule, but I definitely would have done a year abroad if I could have.

What would you improve about this program?
One suggestion is to offer more levels of French grammar/language classes. There was a wide range of French levels among my fellow American students. This program only requires the completion of 4 college-level French classes. Therefore, there were some students who had only taken French 101-104 and others who had already taken 300-level French courses.
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Classes in museums and art exhibitions

My time in Arles was for sure a great highlight of my freshman year summer. The two classes that I took during my time there-Sociology on French Immigration and History of Art- particularly impressed me. Both of my professors were super passionate about what they were teaching and were rather open to discuss with us outside of class time and during meal time. The great variety of arts exhibits and musuems in Arles and around Arles certainly made those courses even more interesting. Specifically, one of our tasks in the Art History class was to visit the Fondation de Van Gogh and analyze the painting that we personally enjoyed the most.

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps we could have had more free time during our one-day excursions. But other than that, everything else was perfect to me.
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Summer Abroad

I had an amazing summer through this program! The best part was definitely staying with a host family- mine was so welcoming, and supportive and I still keep in touch with them! This is an immersive program, so you are constantly pushed to speak in French. It was overwhelming and uncomfortable at times, but completely worthwhile. I was surprised by how easy it was to form connections with people, especially my host family, even when I sometimes had trouble communicating verbally.

Arles itself is a great place to spend the summer. It's a quiet little town, but there is a lot going on! There was plenty to do, and it was much less intimidating than a large city would have been. There are also a lot of ways to visit nearby towns, both with the program, and individually. I would definitely recommend this program if you are looking for an immersive experience!

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Arles, France

I benefited from being able to live with a host family (which was one of the reasons I chose this program) and I enjoyed all of the opportunities to go to different events hosted by the program (such as museum tours, visiting les Arenes, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence). I just wish there was a little more information that was available before orientation to better prepare us for our experience. I still had a great time and learned so much about the history of France. I would highly recommend this program to students who want to improve their French language skills.

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience!

The Arles Summer program was an incredible experience for me. The program is small, so you get to know the staff and other students really well and feel a strong sense of community. Arles is the perfect town to study abroad, in my opinion, because it is safe and small while also being full of culture and activities. I enjoyed my classes and the program excursions, and the best part was my homestay. My host family was unbelievably kind and generous, and they made me feel very much at home. The immersion aspect of the program really helped me improve my French, and overall I was very satisfied with my progress and experience!

What would you improve about this program?
There could be more course offerings and more engaging professors for the Theater and Sociology courses (as I heard that they were a bit boring).
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An Adventure in Arles

My time in Arles is an experience that I will never forget! Every day felt like a new adventure in Arles! I learned so much about what I am capable of and grew throughout the process. I returned with a new perspective, an open mind, and a desire to continue to learn about the world, as well as wonderful memories and connections from my summer.

The IES program is amazingly well run! I encountered very few problems but felt support at every moment of my journey, before and during my program. The staff in Arles is wonderful! Every time I had a question, about the culture, a French word, or which café to go to, I could count on the staff for answers. I felt that they really cared about us! The professors as well were great! I had amazing discussions in class and each professor connected what we were learning in the classroom to what we were experiencing. Everyone was extremely willing to help us, understanding the challenge of living our lives completely in French, but also challenged us to keep speaking at all times. It was difficult at first, but definitely is worth it!

One of the best parts of the trip was my host family! By living with a host family, I was completely immersed in the French culture and language. My host family was so sweet and helpful. I learned things every day from them, whether about French politics or a new word. My host mom always checked in with me about my day. I loved chatting with her. I explored Arles and other parts of the region with them. They took me to a beach and a vineyard in the mountains. Participating in daily life with my host family gave me a sense of comfort while I was so far away from my own home, but also served as one of the main places of opening my eyes to the French culture and wonderful French people!

On a typical day in the program, I attended two classes. On many of the days, you'll have language lunches, where you eat lunch at different restaurants around the town with the professors and the directors, which helps improve your French even more! On Fridays, the program takes you to different places in Provence. You'll have 3 dinners a week with host families and breakfast every day, but I ate with my family more than that (it depends on the family).

I absolutely loved Arles! The town is small, but lively and beautiful! It is full of history, from Roman ruins to VanGogh sites, as well as cultural events and modern festivals (a huge photography festival every summer). Everyone is sweet and many people know each other. Even though there are many tourists during the day, the town has a strong local culture. I spent many days wandering around the town, exploring new sites, finding my favorite cafes and bookstores. Some of my favorite moments are the conversations I had with people. I chatted with the owner of a hat shop on the center's street every day by the end of the program and even attended a folk dance class with some local residents. You can easily travel from Arles (I went to Barcelona for a weekend, many people go to Paris), but there Arles itself has so much to offer. It will always have a special place in my heart and I would love to return one day!

I would recommend this program! If you go, as the French say, profitez-bien (profit well) from the experience! It will be unforgettable!

What would you improve about this program?
I might make the program slightly longer. It is 6 weeks! I felt like I had plenty of time to enjoy my experience and get to know the town, but I would have loved to have more time!
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip I'll Never Forget

This was probably the one of the best decisions I've made about how to spend my summer. I've always wanted to visit France and learn the culture by living there and this was my dream come true.

My host family was awesome. I lived with a mom with two children. She was extremely nice and spoke slowly to me at first so that I can understand. During family meal times, she would always try to start conversations with me and ask me about my day. It was difficult to talk to her in French at first but it got better day by day and I learned a lot about French culture and living in Arles as she has been living in Arles for awhile. I loved playing with the kids as well. They would teach me random words of objects and animals in French while playing with me.

The staff for Arles program was amazing as well. They were extremely supportive and informative. I asked them many random grammar questions since I wasn't taking a grammar course on the program, and they would help me out until I would understand. They also helped me a lot with pronunciation and made me feel more confident when I was speaking French to the natives.

I loved Arles. The town is absolutely beautiful, with old Roman architecture and cultural sites all around the town. People are very nice too. I visited Paris for a weekend and that really made me appreciate people in Arles. French people in Arles speak slower and are a lot nicer. There were French guys once in a while who would cat call and yell out things on the streets and that made me feel uncomfortable at times but I didn't feel like Arles was a dangerous place where I could never walk anywhere alone (doesn't mean you should walk around alone at night though just in case...). It's small and everyone knows each other.

The courses were not intellectually challenging, especially because I don't normally take any humanities/social sciences courses during my school year (I'm in the engineering school at my university). So this was a different experience and most of all, I learned a lot about French culture in the classes which helped me to understand lots of cultural differences as a foreign student living in a new country. The professors were enthusiastic and extremely understanding, especially on the difficulty of understanding and communicating in all French.

The weather in Arles was always sunny and beautiful. There were couple days that rained but it's not like Paris... It rained everyday that I was in Paris when I visited (4-day weekend). Tons of mosquitos at night though... so don't forget an insect repellent!

I loved Arles and I would love to go back again sometime in the future. I would definitely recommend this program. You won't regret it!

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Things I Learned During the Sweetest of Summers in Arles, France

The most important things that I learned didn't end up being what was taught in the classroom, nor was the most special part of my experience the things that I saw; though I must admit, the lavender fields and the treasured ruins left behind by the Romans were more beauty than I should ever think to behold in a lifetime. Arles is a city full of life and art and foods all fit to satisfy the soul. So much beauty can be found there, in both the place and it's people. It's the things that I learned from them that made my experience so grand.
Van Gogh taught me to see every yellow of the spectrum. This man is everywhere in Arles, though he only spent one year of his life there. I could feel him in L'Espace Van Gogh, in the little museum that recounts his life so well, and even in the sunflowers he so carefully painted while residing there.
My host mother taught me how to be strong. As a single mother of two, twin four-year-old girls working multiple jobs and doing all that she can for her daughters, she's one of the strongest people I know.
My host sisters taught me patience. Something about being taught daily by four-year olds makes you quite humble, I would say. And when they don't understand why you sometimes cannot understand them is where the patience bit of it comes in.
My good friend Hayley, also a student in the program, taught me how to love absolutely everyone. She showed kindness to everyone she met and never failed to be there for me and others. The friendship that we created in Arles has continued even over some odd 800 miles apart.
One of our professors taught me what to do when the waitress places a whole fish, eyeballs and all, in front of you at lunch. Three times a week, we ate lunch with faculty and other students, dining at local restaurants. One afternoon at "Le Bistrot Des Artistes," fresh fish was on the menu, and after one look at my horrified face, our kind professor taught me the delicate art of cutting and de-boning the fish, exhibiting how to eat "lentement," "slowly."
Each morning on my way to class, I would see the same man playing the guitar on the side of the road. He taught me contentment. Every morning he would sit idly in the same spot along the main street and fill the morning air with beautiful, simple tunes. Sometimes he would make eye contact, other times his fingers demanded his attention, but always he looked content in his usual place doing something he evidently loved.
The man who was my lavender field tour guide taught me that the things you dream are always possible. As he drove our van of eight through winding hills overlooking patches of lavender and greens below, he told us that he had lived out West for many years working with horses. His dream had always been to be a cowboy.
I traveled to Nice on a free weekend alone, and a group of locals invited me to join them for beach volleyball. One of the little girls kept asking me how to say words in English, ecstatic when she could remember how to say, "how are you?" when I asked her. Though brief, this little girl will forever be in my mind. She showed me her determination to learn, even in a setting of play.
My fellow hostel-goers in Nice taught me confidence--don't be afraid to talk to those you don't know. Usually they're looking for the same thing you are, to make a friend in an unknown place. I met a friend that I still keep in contact with at the hostel, and we spent the day pretending to be art critics in the contemporary art museum and getting lost in the streets of "The Old Town."
Oh, and the people of Arles taught me how to dance. And I mean really dance. They dance with such vitality, such joy and don't mind who's watching. They pulled us in to join their traditional dances, taking our hands and laughing along with us at our attempts.
Then there's what I learned about myself, and that is this: When you're in a foreign place where you don't know anyone, you learn a great deal about yourself. Though you spend much time with fellow students, in class, and with host families, you still have a fair amount of time on your own. You get to explore a place that by the end, you feel a part of. You realize the importance of connections and you learn that taking time to be on your own isn't necessarily a bad thing. You learn how to be patient with yourself (speaking constant French was definitely a test of that for me).
It was hard, I won't say that it wasn't. Oftentimes I wished to leave as the classes were difficult and I sometimes felt alone. It's not until I returned that I fully saw how much my time in Arles impacted me. I am so grateful to Arles for making me a stronger person, for sharing its beauty , and for allowing me to grow more than I ever have.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have like to have had local people (preferably students) to be better integrated into the program. I found myself not meeting anyone my age, and the students in the group mainly spent time with each other. I viewed this as a bit of a drawback, as often the American students would fall into English.
1 person found this review helpful.

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