Study Abroad in Lyon

Back to Programs

A Guide to Studying Abroad in Lyon

Nestled halfway between the sea and the Alps in the east of France, Lyon is a medley of piercing skyscrapers, ancient ruins, alleyways from the Medieval ages, and illustrious Renaissance palaces, despite the centuries’ efforts to wear them away. The city has not only earned the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a reputation as the gastronomic capital of France and home to vibrant, diverse residents. The quick pulse of a large European city paired with the quaint charm of French tradition attracts droves of students and travelers alike. Come study abroad in Lyon and see why Paris may be the City of Light, but only Lyon can be the Capitale des lumières – the Capital of Lights.

Studying Abroad in Lyon

With some of the top-ranked universities in France and the world, Lyon plays host to a large and booming student scene. The opportunities to study in Lyon are almost endless, giving you a wide range of subjects to choose from. Some specific subjects that are popular for study abroad programs in Lyon include:

International Affairs. As the third-largest city in France, Lyon is a crucial center of international exchange and interaction. Perhaps most significantly, the Interpol Headquarters as well as the home-base for Euronews are located in Lyon. The large population of international professionals and organizations has given rise to a distinctly multinational focus at most of Lyon’s universities, with some institutions focused entirely on the subjects of politics and international affairs. Some examples of courses include, Government and Politics in France and Europe, or Politics and Economics in the European Union.

Cinema. The world-famous Lumière brothers took center-stage here in 1894, when they pioneered the world’s first motion picture. Today, Lyon carries on their tradition with not only one of the world’s largest film festivals, but also a proud culture of cinema not only throughout the city’s numerous historical movie theatres, but also in the classroom. If you are interested in French cinema, what better place to study abroad than in the birthplace of film itself? Courses may include Introduction to French Cinema or Great Authors in French Cinema.

Business & Economics. Lyon can boast ranking as the second richest city in France after Paris, and the city and its surrounding area is one of the most important economies in Europe. As such, numerous domestic and international companies have entrenched themselves along Lyon’s cobblestoned streets, especially in the biotechnology and software development industries. The city is a hotspot for business, and so most of the universities in Lyon focus on this area of study; therefore courses such as The Political Economy of European Integration or International and Intercultural Management are common.

History. Although many European cities can boast pasts that stretch back eons, few are as well-preserved as Lyon. Considering that the city was founded during the Ancient Roman Empire, the pristine preservation of its historical monuments, buildings, and artifacts are simply astounding. Lyon’s fierce pride in its history, which can tout the influence of Roman dictators, Medieval saints, and Revolutionary armies, is clearly present when studying history in Lyon. The city was also a center for the French Resistance during the German occupation of WWII. There is truly no better way to immerse yourself in the history of another culture than to walk through its streets, which have been standing for hundreds of centuries. Some examples of courses include History and Memory: France and the Second World War or Lyon: Memories, Identities, Territories.

Keep in mind that the French college environment is very formal, with a heavy emphasis on respect between professor and student. Although a large city with plenty of English-speaking students and professors and classes taught in English, some basic French language is almost always required to study abroad in Lyon.

Life in Lyon

Lyon is the dynamic, thriving city that somehow avoids the extraordinary high costs and weighty expectations of Paris. The city is divided into 12 arrondissements (neighborhoods), each one as different as the next. From the ever-popular and bustling streets of Presqu'île, to the historical cobblestoned alleys of the Croix-Rousse hill, to the rollerblading group that zips through the city streets every Friday at 8:30 p.m., there’s something for everyone in Lyon.

Lyon is famous for its food and local wine, but it also lays claim to one of the most popular festivals in the world: Fête des Lumières, or The Festival of Lights. Starting on December 8th and lasting for approximately four days, Lyon becomes a spectacle of living art with buildings, rivers, bridges, and parks adorned with millions of lights that dance to different colors and music. It is a celebration that goes back for centuries, showing just how proud the city is of its heritage and culture.

Since Lyon is home to one of the largest universities in France, amongst many other academic institutions, there is a very strong student culture within the city. Lyon is also an excellent city for those looking for a bit of the outdoors within city limits; many students spend sunny afternoons alongside the banks of the two rivers, which cut through the city. Lyon is also home to one of Europe’s largest urban parks (including a free zoo) as well as numerous cafes and museums that are studded along the wide, neoclassical streets.

The city is connected to the rest of France and Europe by its multiple train stations and international airports. Paris is just a two-hour train ride away, while Italy and Switzerland are also easily accessible. Much of Lyon can be reached very easily by foot, however it is also equipped with a metro system, trams and buses, allowing you to explore every arrondissement of the city.

Accommodation & Visas

Most study abroad programs in Lyon will provide three accommodation options within the city: shared apartments with other study abroad students, campus residence halls, or homestays. Residence hall placements can be difficult to come by, as a majority of university students live independently in apartments throughout the city. Homestays are an especially unique experience as it fully immerses you into the lives of the French community. Aside from the incredible living experience living with a local family, you’ll also get to enjoy the traditional Lyonnais lifestyle and authentic cooking.

If you are studying in Lyon for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa to study in France. However, if you plan to study abroad in Lyon for longer than 90 days, you will be required to obtain a Schengen Visa through a French Consulate or Embassy. You cannot apply for this visa more than 90 days before your departure date. It usually takes approximately three weeks to process a visa application, so be sure to submit all of your paperwork ahead of time.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Extend Your Cheek. In France, you’ll find that la bise, the kissing of cheeks rather than the shaking of hands, is the essential and most common greeting throughout all of France between friends. In the same vein of thought, be prepared to put forth a little effort if you’d like to form a personal connection with the locals. The French are very proud of their language and their culture, making them somewhat wary of boisterous foreigners. It is important to attempt to reach out by learning and speaking French in day-to-day conversations, rather than resorting to English.

Watch Your Wallet. That is to say, try to budget. Although less expensive than Paris, exchange rates and Lyon’s tendency for extravagant living can make studying abroad in Lyon somewhat costly. Be sure to take advantage of student deals and opportunities offered exclusively for study abroad students (look for the word Erasmus).

Embrace the Lifestyle. Studying in Lyon is an excellent opportunity to get a taste (literally and figuratively) of French culture. Be open to the French way of life and you will not only have an eye-opening academic experience, but also incredible personal growth that will help shape the rest of your life.

Read our comprehensive guide on studying abroad in France.

Read More

A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Lyon


 Find Study Abroad Programs in Lyon Now


This listing has been saved 12 times

Budget Low Cost - French Language Schools - 10 Locations

Broaden your worldview with French language and culture study in France through CSA. Choose from verified, excellent programs offered at low-cost prices! With flexible starting dates, you can take classes any month of the year and no matter how long you wish - weekly, monthly, quarterly, in summer, or for an entire semester. Plus, you can pick from various locations – Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Ni...


This listing has been saved 4 times

USAC FRANCE: Lyon - French Language & European Studies

Study in Lyon to learn and live in one of the most attractive cities in France, creating a fresh combination of the bustle of a large, European city and the simplicity of French tradition. Explore Lyon's city center with towering business buildings, blocks of busy shops, and streets lined with cafes full of Lyonnais taking their afternoon break; then turn onto a quiet cobblestone street and duc...


This listing has been saved 1 time

Love nursing? Shadow in France. 20+ AAMC-compliant hrs/week.

The Atlantis Fellowship gives pre-medical and pre-health students AAMC-compliant, ethical shadowing hours in international hospitals. The Atlantis mission is to help pre-medical and pre-health students pursue their callings in medicine passionately through their interactions with international healthcare. Atlantis is committed to partnering with students on their way to becoming a nurse, which...


This listing has been saved 2 times

ESMOD Paris Undergraduate in Fashion Design

This program allows students to acquire excellent technical skill while simultaneously developing and refining their creative abilities. To be able to design and construct a collection of clothing and accessories in various domains of the fashion industry, specializing in a specific market in their final year. This program is divided equally between design and patternmaking two distinct skil...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Live/Study With Your French Teacher - Various Regions

Live and learn with your own private French teacher in France! This program is a very unique way to learn a language as while you stay in France you’ll be learning French in your teacher’s home! The program is great for students who require a deeper level of learning to fully grasp a language, and what better way to learn a language than by using it every day! Each day you’re in France you’...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Experience French Culture with CEFAM Study Abroad Programs

The CEFAM Study Abroad programs provide students with an opportunity to live in France for a semester (fall & spring), or a summer session, while pursuing their college education. The CEFAM Programs follow the American Liberal Arts in education and offer both Business (finance, marketing, management …) and General Education courses (history, arts, French language class ...). All courses are ...


This listing has been saved 4 times

Learn French in Lyon

Travel with Frontier to the world-renowned city of Lyon, located in the Rhone-Alps region in east-central France. Founded by the Romans in the 1st Century B.C., Lyon provides a rich cultural scene and historical heritage to the thousands of students and tourists who flock there every year. It is the second largest city in France and has been recognised as a UNSECO World Heritage Site since 1998...


This listing has been saved 5 times

Top up degree - Bachelor in Business Studies with Marketing

IPAC School of Management offers a one-year Bachelor in Business Studies with Marketing program in France. The first semester, taught entirely in English, is for full-time studies. The second semester comes with a 19-week internship, which can be done anywhere in the world. Students can either do both semesters and graduate with a European certifications framework, which is equivalent to Bac...


This listing has been saved 10 times

Language Tutor in France

The language tutor program in France offers a one of a kind opportunity for you to practice your French in situations that are quite different from the ones you have in a classroom. Through this program you will be staying with a French family, tutoring one or more family member and help with regular household duties and chores. Active communication is a key part in improving any language and ...