If you're interested in studying in a nation who has heavily influenced the western world for hundreds of years, France would make a great fit. France's composition of picturesque countryside, busy city streets, white sandy beaches, and majestic mountain peaks make it a one-of-a-kind study abroad destination. For experiencing continental Europe, France's central location allows for convenient overland travel as it borders 9 different countries.
Beyond language acquisition, art students, history majors, and businessmen alike will find France's opportunities very attractive. Over the course of time, the French have made notable contributions to art, philosophy, architecture, fashion, food and wine, literature, and cinema, adding the "sugar on top of the croissant" in this proud country (with good reason!).Photo Credit: API Study Abroad
With enough museums, monuments, cafes, boutiques, and parks to make you swoon, Paris is a student’s dream. Studying abroad in this larger-than-life city will give you all that is French – the baguettes and the chocolate, the language and the fashion, and most of all, the beauty.
One of the world’s most aesthetically pleasing cities, Paris could not possibly leave you with a lack of things to explore. From the hidden side streets to the animated neighborhoods, you could spend days merely wandering. But that won’t be the only activity you engage in, studying in Paris will give you all sorts of academic stimulation, too. The hangouts of the worlds greatest artists will be at your fingertips, so you can study your grammaire Francaise where Satre used to philosophize.
Nice is the fifth largest city in France and combines all the culture and sophistication of that country with the movie-star beauty of gorgeous Mediterranean beaches and palm trees. Located on the Mediterranean coast of France, Côte d'Azur, Nice is a fabulous mix of old and new, modern and ancient, classic and contemporary. Nice was founded by the Greeks in 350 BC and named for the goddess of victory, Nike.
Today, the city is home to over a million people, boasts many enticing universities, museums, and markets like the Musée Massena or the Cours Saleya and is a true gem of the Mediterranean.
Aix-en-Provence: the city of l’eau et l’art (water and art). Built around hot springs and fountains, Aix is and alway has been, a center for artists (like Cézanne). The country side radiates with the scent of lavender and flourishes with 300 days of sunshine. Three hours south of Paris (by train) and 30 km from Marseille, Aix is the perfect paradise; a modern city with a historic flair.
Built atop ancient Roman ruins and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon is no rusty relic. The third largest city in France and its second largest economy, this “Capital of Lights” is a haven for the business savvy, the food-addicted, and the history buff.
Located in the Rhône-Alpes region of eastern central France, Lyon is home to a million and a half residents and has developed the reputation of being the capital of gourmet gastronomy in a nation known for just that. Founded by the Romans in 43 BC, the city boasts remarkably well-preserved remnants of the civilization, placed in charming contrast with its bustling high-tech and manufacturing industries.
Hear the name Bordeaux and you probably think of the wine. And yes, being in close proximity to vineyards is a major attraction of this south-western French city. The cheaper-than-Paris cost of living, good weather, excellent transportation system, proximity to the Pyrenees (for skiing in the winter), and UNESCO World Heritage-status of Bordeaux are just some of the other attractions of studying here.
Whether you want to learn some French during a short summer course or stay for a year or more to become fluent, Bordeaux is a hot contender for the best place in France to study as an international student.
How to Choose a Program
France is one of the most popular study abroad destinations, consistently ranking in the top five, and hosted over 17,000 study abroaders in the past year alone. Many study abroad program providers have capitalized on students' interests in venturing to France, and as such, your possibilities for study abroad are virtually endless. However, these increased options may mean a little more legwork to find a program that suits your desired experience abroad. Language classes, housing, and the inclusion of cultural activities should all play a factor in your final decision.
Learners of French will find many opportunities for French language immersion programs all around the country. Surrounding yourself with the French people and enveloping their way of life will prove beneficial on your journey (destination: fluency).
The degree of immersion will vary dependent on your intended host city for your study abroad experience. The bigger cities will largely be more accommodating to those who speak French as a second language. A more remote, smaller city, with a significantly smaller population of foreigners, will give you a chance to really get involved with the French way of life.
Your study abroad experience, and ultimately your French experience, will be strongly influenced by where you decide to live during your time abroad. If you decide to study abroad through your university provider, it is likely you will live in community with other American students from your university. While providing fun and comfort, living in this environment typically proves to be more challenging if your desire is to befriend locals or international students.
The cost of your housing will also depend on where you are living in France, as there is a significant cost difference between the capital city of Paris and other cities. AIFS Abroad provides 5 different programs across 3 different cities in France, whose costs of housing vary significantly (between $1,000-$2,000). CEA offers a wealth of options for housing their students.
If you have to organize your housing independently (which is typical if you directly enroll in a program), you can find affordable, furnished student apartments across France through UniPlaces.
Immersion and Cultural Activities
Program fees may or may not include added cultural activities or small excursions. Some programs believe these events are great for team building and learning more extensively about your new country of residence. Others find that allowing students to organize these activities on their own fosters a deeper learning experience.
These activities can range from a daytrip at a local museum to a weekend adventure in a nearby country or city. Both Academic Programs International (API) and IES Abroad programs programs include these organized trips in their fees, offering short and long term trips around the country. Check out their different itineraries to see which excursions most interest you!
A fun tip from Paris Unraveled - most state and city-run museums are free/greatly reduced price for students under 26 all over France and the EU; the trick to obtaining the discount is to show a French university student ID (not an American ID or ISIC)!
France did not earn a reputation of luxury by accident. While being known for its culturally significant sights, it is also known for its high costs. Regardless, many study abroad providers have program-specific scholarships that can help offset the costs of your study abroad experience. If you are choosing the more independent route, these scholarships (plus more!) are available for you to apply to.
- API offers a variety of scholarships for those participating in their programs - including a few great options in France!
- The French government funds scholarships for students from the USA interested in studying the French language.
- Similarly, the French government sponsors 15 doctoral students to study in France under the Chateaubriand-Fellowship.
- As a non-profit, the various USAC study abroad scholarship opportunities aim for students to gain international experience -- without breaking the bank.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships