So get ready to say goodbye to the life you’ve known and breathe in the classically French philosophy of living day by day. Stroll down cobblestone paths in the countryside of Lyon, or along the banks of the river Seine. Take in the wonders of Paris, or the rustic charms of Bordeaux. Visit museums and art galleries packed to bursting with some of the most beautiful masterpieces you’ve ever seen (Mona Lisa is just the beginning). In essence, France is the place where students go to expand their cultural and academic horizons.
And you can do all of that and more while sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying a fresh croissant.
If the prospect of studying in France has got you all excited, Bienvenue et Bonne Chance!
Why Study in France?
France is located on the western edge of Europe and is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, and Spain. It is separated from the United Kingdom by the English Channel, and is also bordered by the North Sea, the Bay of Biscayne, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. Talk about being centrally located.
The joie de vivre or the joy of living which embodies the French philosophy of life is deeply influenced by France’s unique location in Europe. Each region of the country is distinctive and features its own culture, cuisine, and charms. From the serenity of its coastal towns to the cosmopolitan rush of its great cities, France has something for everyone.
Students who are yearning for the adventure of a lifetime won’t be disappointed if they choose to study abroad in France.
Top Universities in France
As one of the most popular study abroad destinations, France is a country which is bursting with variety and has strong academic and artistic traditions. There are numerous universities across the country which offers academic programs in a wide variety of disciplines.
The top two universities in the nation are also ranked among the top 50 universities in the world and are:
Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris
Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech
France is also known for its specialized business schools which have fantastic international reputations. These include:
ESSEC Business School
école des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris)
Students can also choose to pursue degree programs in the following fields:
If all of these options aren’t exciting enough, university tuition costs in France are also among the lowest in the world. This is a huge plus for international students considering the fact that living costs in France can be quite high.
Where to Study in France?
Some of the most notable places to study in France include:
‘A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.’ -Thomas Jefferson
La Ville Lumière or the City of Light is one of the most popular destinations in the world. With its sprawling boulevards, rich history, and famous monuments, Paris has the ability to change your life forever. As one of the largest multicultural metropolises in the world, you’ll get the chance to experience so much in the French capital.
Also known as the gourmet capital of France, Lyon offers you the chance to delve into a world filled with culinary delights. It’s also rich in history having been founded in 43 BC by the Romans.
Nice is a city which blends old-world charm with modern urban flare. This beautiful town features sunshine all year round, vibrant outdoor markets, a renowned art scene, and delicious foods.
Located in southern France, Marseille is the second most populous city in the country. This Mediterranean port city features great weather year round and the largest immigrant population in the country making it very diverse. It also has a rich culture and history of its own, as well as some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat.
Situated in the beautiful wine region, Bordeaux has many charms – it features stunning architecture, a reliable public transportation system, is a main player in the technology scene in Europe, and is close to some beautiful beaches. It’s also a popular destination for higher education and offers numerous international study programs.
The French magazine l’Etudiant has named Toulouse as the best city in France for students. The city’s main university is one of the oldest in France (founded in 1229) and it also features a number of other highly ranked universities. Students also benefit from low living costs as well as being perfectly situated between the ocean and the mountains.
Student Life in France
France is one of the premier destinations in the world for higher education and as such, boasts a large number of international students. In a country which is roughly the size of the state of Texas, you’ll find an incredible amount of things to do. France features five major mountain ranges, world-famous cities, quaint villages, and over 1,240 miles of beaches.
Here are some of the features of student life in France.
Cost of Living
France ranks as one of the most expensive countries in the world in terms of cost of living. Paris, one of the biggest tourist hubs in the world, is considerably more expensive than other cities in France. Therefore, managing your expenses is very important. Depending on where you choose to study, you’ll need anywhere from 500-1200 euros a month to live in France.
Eating out frequently and visiting touristy areas can add up. Also, make sure you buy your groceries from local stores to avoid paying higher costs.
In France, you’ll find a variety of different housing options to choose from. If your university offers student housing, staying in a dorm on campus may be a very economical option. You can also rent out apartments or rooms, and even find a roommate to share the cost with. On average, the cost of housing in France can run anywhere between 250-800 euros a month. This figure will vary depending upon the region and type of accommodation you choose.
France has an excellent public transportation network that operates throughout the country, with the exception of very remote areas.
The Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) is responsible for all land-based transport including buses and trains.
In the major cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse you’ll find underground subway stations known as métros. In other cities such as Nice, Lille, and Bordeaux you’ll find modern tramways.
Tickets can be purchased for single use and passes can be bought for a day, week, month, or year.
Things to do in France
During your stay, you can:
Enjoy some of the best skiing in the world
Visit world famous monuments such as the Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame
Visit the Musee du Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and other museums across the country
Take a trip to the Chateau de Versailles
See the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world, the Arenes de Nimes
Explore the wine region and the Champagne Route
Visit the coast and the many towns on it
Take a French cooking class
One of the greatest things about studying abroad in France will be that you’ll have ample time to explore and discover all the treasures that the country has to offer. What’s more, many places offer student discounts so you don’t have to worry about putting a dent in your pocket.
Climate in France
Broadly speaking, France has four different climactic zones or areas and numerous microclimates throughout the country.
Oceanic (western France)
This includes places like Normandy, Brittany, the Loire Valley, Western Loire and Cognac.
The Atlantic Ocean greatly influences the climate in these coastal areas resulting in relatively temperate weather year round. Expect rainfall throughout the year, and warm, sunny summers.
Mediterranean (south eastern France)
This includes places like Provence, Nice, Marseille, Côte d’Azur, the Rhone-Alps and Cannes.
In these areas it will be warm, dry, and sunny for the large part of the year. Mild rainfall can be expected from October-April.
Continental (central and eastern France)
This includes areas like Alsace, Lorraine, parts of the Paris region, Burgundy and Champagne-Ardenne.
Here, there are very large differences in temperature between the hottest and coldest months, and rainfall is moderate. Expect cold winters and hot summers.
Mountain (higher altitudes)
This includes regions of the Alps, the Pyrenees, Picardy, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Vosges and the Central Massif.
Lots of rainfall throughout the year, as well as snow for 3-6 months. Winters will be cold, and summers will be wet and moderate.
Food & Culture
French culture is deeply influenced by its different regions and its rich history. The French are a proud nation who are patriotic and believe very strongly in their motto: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity).
The predominant language spoken in the country is French (the first language of 88% of the population) while in other regions closer to the borders languages such as German, Italian, Catalan, and Basque are frequently spoken.
Catholicism is the main religion in the country.
Food and wine are central components of French life, and the French are very passionate about their cuisine. French food culture is influenced by many things including different regions in the country, fresh and exclusive ingredients, cooking techniques, as well as a certain pride for the foods that they are known for. Typical French foods are known for their bold, complex, and distinctive flavors.
Some famous French foods include:
Coq au vin – which is chicken, Burgundy wine, Lardons (small strips or cubes of pork fat), button mushrooms, onions and garlic
Boeuf bourguignon - beef stew braised in red wine seasoned with garlic, onions and mushrooms
In addition, the French love their wine, bread, and cheese. These are staples in a French diet and are consumed daily.
If you are a national of the EU, or from the EEA, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Iceland, you will not require a student visa for France. All you will need is a valid passport and another form of valid travel ID.
For all other nationals, a student visa is an essential pre-requisite in order to study in France.
Visa Application Process
Visa applications must be made through Campus France, the official national agency for higher education and international students in the country. In order to apply for a visa, you must first register with Campus France and obtain approval for your application.
You can begin the visa application process once you have received an acceptance from a university in France. Note that registering with Campus France can take up to five weeks, and the visa application can take up to four weeks, so make sure you apply well in advance.
The application process is as follows:
Fill out the online application form on Campus France and submit it
Mail in the required documents (see below) to Campus France USA
Once you receive a confirmation from Campus France that your documents have been received, make an appointment with your assigned consulate for an interview
You must make a visa appointment at a French consulate no more than 90 days before your departure to France.
What you’ll need for the visa application:
A passport size photograph
Official photo ID
An acceptance letter from an accredited university in France. Make sure the letter is on a headed paper and contains all of your relevant information and the details of your program
Your most recent transcripts
A return ticket (either the ticket itself or a reservation)
Information about your confirmed accommodation in France. This can be a certificate from your student housing
If the program you’re applying to is in French, you must provide proof of your proficiency in the French language
Proof that you can support yourself during your entire stay. This can be in the form of a bank statement, notice of funding, or a guarantor’s letter
If you’re looking for a culturally immersive and academically rewarding study abroad opportunity, France is the place to be. You’ll find a variety of programs to choose from at a number of prominent universities across the country. What’s more, you’ll get to study in one of the most charming, exciting, and vibrant countries in the world. So put on your beret, get on a plane, and bid au revoir to your old life – France is waiting!