Study In France: A Feast Of The Senses

by Valerie Bordelon

La France est le plus bel endroit sur ​​terre! For those of you still learning the language of love, this is translated to “France is the most wonderful place on earth!” But what is it about France that everyone admires? Why should you consider France as a study abroad destination? If you are in this predicament, continue reading, and you might be convinced that studying in France would be a dream come true.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
The western facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Photo by Troy Peden

Are you an art lover? An admirer of fine wine and artisan cheeses? Are you passionate about fine cuisine, or cutting-edge fashion? If you’re into any of those things, you may already realize that...

...studying abroad in France will satisfy your tastes with some of the finest offerings in the world. 

A Visual Feast

France’s incredible history of fine art is told within the many museums around the country. Everyone’s heard of the Musée du Louvre, one of the world’s best-known museums dedicated to showcasing art throughout the ages, and home to da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa. At the center of Paris, the Louvre holds nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century. If you are an art lover, this is first place to start — allow several days (or weeks, or months …) to absorb all that the Louvre contains. 

For those of you not studying abroad in Paris, no need to worry — there are more than 100 other famous art museums around the rest of France. Other notables are:

  • Musée Ingres. This museum in Mantauban is devoted to the work of the painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. 
  • Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. Located in Albi and situated in the walls of the Palace of Berbera, the museum houses over 1,000 pieces of work. 
  • Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux. This museum, located in Bayeux, Normandy, is devoted to the art of the tapestry. It’s famous for showcasing the 70-meter-long embroidered linen canvas depicting the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. 
Under the Louvre in Paris, France

Musee du Louvre, Paris

A Feast For The Palate

If you are a foodie, you are pretty much guaranteed to fall in love with France. Although the French cooking we know today was originally inspired by Tuscan cuisine when Catherine de’Medici married France’s Henry II, the French have built on this knowledge over the centuries, making French cuisine one of the greatest culinary powerhouses in the world. In Paris alone, there are more than 9,000 restaurants, and each one is worthy of a visit. 

If you study abroad in France, you will find that a lot of restaurant dishes are not considered “traditional.” These plates are influenced by “nouvelle cuisine,” a period in the 1960’s where innovative thoughts and ideas entered the minds and kitchens of chefs, creating new dishes and techniques. 

A major facet of French cuisine is wine. The French were the original kings of wine, with world-famous wine-growing regions such as Burgundy and Champagne. (You should know that only true champagne comes from the latter region — clearly a legitimate reason to visit!)

A Fashion Feast

Since the seventeenth century, fashion designers in France have paved the way in style and innovation, making France one of the most famous couture capitals in the world. Styles such as “la mode” dating back to the reign of Louis XIV, Haute Couture originating in Paris in the 1860’s, and the famous “New Look” in 1947 from Christian Dior, all came from France. Even the establishment of the fashion press, Vogue, was founded here in 1892, as well as the beginning of fashion shows and couturier houses. Examples of French designers read like a who’s who of fashion greats: Louis Vuitton, Coco Chanel, Paloma Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Sonia Rykiel. Design students will find a wealth of inspiration and motivation when studying fashion in France.

A Feast for the Nose

When it comes to the art of perfume, no country can come close to the intricate methods and style that the French professionals have developed. True French fragrances come from the perfume makers in the small town of Grasse, northwest of Nice. Here, the fertile land produces flowers with intoxicating aromas such as jasmine, lavender, myrtle, rose, and mimosa. Perfumes are created by extracting the fragrances from the blossoms by either maceration (where flowers are soaked in a liquid that will absorb their fragrances), or by distillation. This creates essential oils which are then blended in just the right combinations to make some of the priciest perfumes on earth. 

The Eiffel tower, Paris

The Eiffel tower

Something for Everyone

France is home to extravagant and famous castles, especially in the Loire Valley. If you are a beach bum, you can get sunshine and fabulous festivals along with your lessons near the French Riviera. If you are a history geek, consider all of the stories, architecture, and famous people that were established here: Marie Antoinette, who lived in the Palace of Versailles; Madame Tussaud; Madame Curie; the Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame; the list goes on and on. Don’t forget about the architecture either! Think about being able to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the artists’ quarter of Montmartre, and the Moulin Rouge. Also, remember where France is located: it’s a prime hub for European travel by train or air, as well as one of the best places for Alps skiing. 

Poursuivre vos Étude (Continuing Your Education)

Studying abroad in France is made simple by the sheer number of programs to choose from, all over the country. While a medium-sized city, like Grenoble, may have just two or three universities, Paris has 13 established universities that offer a large number of concentrations.

Au revoir!