Aix-en-Provence is the city of a thousand fountains, and from it springs the vivid vie Aixois (Aix life). First and foremost it is a university town, so there are students from all over France as well as the world living and studying in Aix-en-Provence, which creates a diverse population. Interning abroad in Aix-en-Provence is one of the best ways to learn the French language, or improve your skills, while also having exposure to many other languages and cultures. Lastly, the term “picturesque” is an understatement when it comes to Aix-en-Provencel; you’ll have to see it to believe it.
Internships in Aix-en-Provence
Aix is a city growing in popularity and a jack of all trades city, as there is a little something for everyone; but the most prominent industry for internships in Aix-en-Provence is tourism. Since Aix-en-Provence is a popular tourist destination, not just for international travelers but the French as well, hundreds of locals love to spend their vacation days in the south of France. The consistent influx of tourists creates plenty of tourism internships in Aix-en-Provence. Additionally, whether it’s through the city’s tourism office or private tour companies, there’s no shortage of internships in marketing and communications related to tourism too.
Other popular internships in Aix-en-Provence include education, journalism, and the arts, especially theatre, drama, and dance. Though there are placements offered in both English and French, many internship programs will include study or intensive French language courses in addition to work experience. No matter how fluent you are in French, learning some basic phrases and putting in a little effort will go a long way with your French colleagues.
As an intern in Aix-en-Provence you will have to adjust to a little change of pace. The French work-day starts at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. However, the French are known for enjoying a long lunch, a two-hour lunch break is generally the standard in Aix. Punctuality also takes on a new meaning in Southern France; you will not necessarily be considered late if you arrive 10 to 15 minutes after a scheduled appointment, in fact you should expect this time to time from your French colleagues. Since Aix is a smaller town, the pace is even slower, but if you can adjust you’ll find a pleasant work-life balance that will leave you plenty of time for wine and friends.
Life in Aix-en-Provence
Living la vie en rose in Aix means a slower pace of life and that applies to your internship too. Interns can spend their weekends meandering the winding streets of the centre ville walking in and out of shops, cafés, and markets along the Cours Mirabeau. After a walk through the weekly markets, with a baguette, fresh cheese, and produce in hand, make your way down to the Parc Jourdan for a leisurely picnic and people watching. A 30-minute bus ride in either direction will take you to the bustling streets of Marseille, the beach, or to the trails leading up Mt. St. Victoire, the mountain made famous by the French impressionist Cézanne.
In 2013, Aix was named the European Capital of Culture for its love and devotion to the fine arts. Aix has a number of museums and galleries to spend your days wandering through, like Musée Granet, and the city will give you an intimate look at the region’s famous artists. Aix also has a rich music, theatre, and dance scene. In summer months, the city puts on Musique dans la Rue, a week of classical, jazz, and pop concerts held in different street venues and courtyards around town. Aix-en-Provence is also home to the Ballet Preljocaj in the Pavillon Noir, so there are always plenty of performances to attend.
Walking is the best (and often fastest) way to navigate Aix-en-Provence, but when your feet finally tire out, the bus system is the next best option. Taxis are available, and can be a better option at night since most buses won’t run past 7 p.m. Even in a smaller town like Aix, be wary of scams and tourist traps at popular tourist spots around the city. But, have no fear, in no time you’ll be walking the streets like a true Aixois.
Salary & Costs
Internships in Aix-en-Provence can be either paid or unpaid, and this will vary based on the industry of your placement. Some internship placements will offer a monthly stipend or additional benefits, like housing and meals. All of this information will be specific to your internship program, however. Internship providers or employers will oftentimes provide interns with a suggested budget for food, travel, and living expenses prior to departure, so you will be aware of how much spending money to prepare.
The cost of living in Aix-en-Provence is fairly high (but not more so than larger French cities like Paris or Lyon). Don’t limit yourself when it comes to experiencing French cuisine, but know that dinner menus are exponentially more expensive. Most restaurants offer their dinner menu, or something comparable, as a lunch special at a significantly lower price, and there are plenty of inexpensive cafés, bars, and shops (if you know where to look).
Accommodation & Visas
Some internships in Aix-en-Provence will include housing assistance or housing accommodation, whether that be in a private apartment, student housing, or a homestay. Apartments in Aix-en-Provence can be quite expensive and the exact price will vary based on location, location, location! It will be cheaper to find housing a little further away from the center of town. It can also be beneficial to live with a host family if you truly want to improve your language skills.
If you’re planning to intern in Aix-en-Provence for longer than 90 days, you will need a temporary long-stay visa, which will be either a student or work visa. Most internship program providers or employers will help you through this process and provide necessary documents when required. However, interns are often responsible for scheduling and going to any required consulate appointments. One final note, it’s important to start the visa process early, because French bureaucracy can be slow and frustrating.
Benefits & Challenges
Immerse Yourself. An international internship in Aix-en-Provence will provide you with valuable work experience as you immerse yourself in French culture in every way possible. Jump in with both feet in the city of a thousand fountains!
Grow With The City. Whether your interests lie in tourism, education, journalism, marketing, or the arts, Aix is full of opportunity. It’s a city growing in popularity, so what better way to grow, personally and professionally, than right alongside it? Once you move past the inevitable culture shock, and regain your language legs, you’ll find no better place to intern abroad than Aix-en-Provence.