France is a country of food, art, and a general sense of taking life as it comes. The French live day by day and do not like to rush; their appreciation of artistic quality emphasizes this, whether it is in painting, sculpture, food, fashion, or architecture. France has a great history of people who fight for what they believe in, that of Bohemianism focusing on living for one’s passions and creating an adventure. Even in the smallest town with cobblestone streets, students of all majors, from Art to Communications to Fashion, will be able to find inspiration which will enhance their academic and cultural pursuits through studying abroad in France.
France is in between Spain and Germany with coasts on the east and west sides. It is a unique country with different types of environments, from the coastal town of Marseille to the vineyards of Bordeaux and the snow sport enthusiast’s dream in Chamonix, plenty of variety when it comes to study abroad locations.
The English Channel to the west provides a unique transportation opportunity for study abroad students; the “chunnel” is a tunnel for trains to go underneath the water between Paris and London. To the east is the Mediterranean sea and a completely different scenic view compared to the rest of France.
Paris, the capital city, is the main metropolitan areas with just over two million people. It is the cultural hub for study abroad in France with opportunities to see amazing feats in architecture, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe. Paris was also the home of many great American authors during the 1920’s, such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who found inspiration among the cafes and nightlife.
Catholicism is the main religion in France historically, but the nation also has high Jewish and Islamic populations. France has freedom of religion, and in bigger cities especially, has multiple places of worship for different religions. International students studying in France will have no trouble finding a place to worship freely.
France is a cultural melting pot not only of European descent but also of Africa; there are 21 countries in Africa whose official language is French. French language and culture has spread to other countries in Europe, like Belgium and Monaco, and even into Eastern Canada. There are many French influences in parts of the Southern United States, especially Louisiana, as well.
Winter in France supplies plenty of opportunities study abroad students who are snowboarders and skiers to enjoy the slopes. There is a lot of snow, particularly along the Eastern border near Switzerland, however snow is rare in Paris and the central areas of the country.
Spring is a nice time to study abroad in France because the temperatures rise very quickly. The weather is still cool, so a jacket or scarf are still necessary in early Spring. Further south in Nice and Cannes, many students take the opportunity to swim and enjoy taking meals outdoors between classes. May especially sees a lot of short sleeves and outdoor activities through the country on college campuses.
Summers are hot but comfortable, often when tourists come to Paris or when the Parisian locals migrate to Marseille for vacation on the beach. Temperatures are between the mid 70s and 80s (25 to 30 degrees celsius) in the central areas but can be on the cooler side near the western coast.
Autumn is the rainiest season in France. It is heavier in the mountainous and northern coastal areas, with light to moderate rain in Paris and Bordeaux.
Many people in Paris and the northern areas of France speak English because of the popular tourism industry. While French is the national language, English, Spanish, and German are common second languages, because of the proximity to England, Spain, and Germany. To get the most opportunities for French Language practice, students studying in France should venture out of the capital city.
France is one of the few countries that can take a claim on fine dining even from a food truck. France is known for its wine, a rival of California, which is made to accompany food almost like an accessory: French wine is important on its own but able to accentuate the flavors of any main dish. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and Brittany are the most popular regions of France for wine production.
The French have light breakfasts usually of just a coffee or juice with a croissant. Popular dishes unique to France are duck confit, ratatouille, boeuf bourguignon, and coq au vin. Most recipes use wine as an ingredient as well. Tarts with fruit are popular desserts as well as crepes, which are thin pancake like bread with filling eaten as a snack, breakfast, or dessert, depending on the sweet or savory filling. Crepe carts are popular all around France and can especially be seen in Paris on every corner.
France is part of the European Union and therefore uses the Euro as their currency, as do most countries in Europe. Most restaurants and shops will accept major credit cards, but smaller shops and establishments in smaller towns may only accept cash. One Euro is of similar value to one USD.
France is home to some of the greatest art in the world, leaving study abroad students with plenty to take in first hand. The Musee D’Orsay and The Louvre are the two largest art museums are located in Paris; art museums are spread throughout France, celebrating Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and Renoir among many others. Taking in the landscape is a great way for individuals studying abroad in France to see the country, try strolling through vineyards and breathtaking gardens. The Lascaux Cave is one stop that shouldn’t be missed during any study abroad program in France, where cave paintings over 17,000 years old excite any artist or anthropology enthusiast too.
Many art festivals are celebrated throughout the country, such as the Berlioz Festival which has celebrated the music of Hector Berlioz since the 1830s. Perhaps the biggest holiday, however, is July 14th. Bastille Day celebrates the French independence after the revolution in 1789, marked by the storming of the Bastille, the prison in Paris that symbolized King Louis the 16th’s regime. The Revolution also inspired the French flag of blue, white, and red that represents the Republic’s ideals: liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Culinary, visual arts, fashion design, and architectural design students will benefit greatly from studying abroad in France, not only from coursework inside the classroom, but also from the great experiences which lies in the artistic environment France is globally known for. One of the world’s fashion and culinary capitals, France has a lot to offer study abroad students, especially those interested in making connections for employment in Europe post-graduation. Tourism and hospitality management students can also benefit from studying in France, since it is one of the top international tourist destinations in the world.
By studying in France, students can learn the best places to eat, stay, and what the best things to see in France are; they will get the unique opportunity to research the hidden treasures of France not in typical guidebooks, by living like the locals. Opportunities to study abroad span the country, most popularly in Paris, Nice, Lyon, and Toulouse.
Any visitor that is not part of the European Union who plans to study in France for more than three months must have a student visa. Visa application materials can be obtained at the French consulate. Proof of acceptance into the university or study abroad program and proof of adequate funds to support the visitor for longer than three months will also be needed when applying.