Study Abroad Guide - France

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What young Francophile isn’t thrilled by the prospect of strolling along the Seine under the lights of Notre Dame, cycling through the fields of Provence with a fresh baguette in tow, or taking a study break on the French Riviera?  Such romantic visions help make France the fourth most popular country in which to study abroad.  In 2015, over 300,000 international students flocked there from around the world, including from the most represented countries of Morocco, China, and Algeria.  

Where to Study

The top draw for foreign students is by far the capital city of Paris, which can’t be beat for its sheer quantity of inspirational attractions.  With over 2 million people, Paris supports a wide range of academic institutions, so you can find study abroad programs for almost any major in both French and English.  Fashion, art history, international relations, literature, and political science are some of the most popular areas of study.  Well-regarded universities in Paris include the Institute d’Etudes Politiques (aka Sciences Po), which specializes in the humanities and social sciences and has a student body that is almost half international, and the Université Paris-Sorbonne, which ranks especially high for its modern language programs.

France’s third largest city of Lyon also attracts a large share of foreign students. Perched at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with an enchanting medieval center that gets lit up at night, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in France.  And since it’s less touristy than Paris, you’ll find more opportunities to immerse yourself in the French language.  Students in Lyon enjoy a high quality of life, partly because they’re in the gastronomic capital of France, with a lower cost of living than Paris.  The city contains Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, ranked 5th among France’s institutions of higher education, as well four other reputable universities.

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Other popular study abroad destinations in France include Versailles; Creteil; Lille; Toulouse; Nice, which experienced the biggest recent jump in foreign students; and Grenoble, which L'Etudiant magazine named the best student city in 2016.  Each of these places offers a unique slice of charm and joi de vivre, so wherever you choose to study you’re likely to come out ahead.  However, in addition to dreaming about the finer aspects of French living, you’ll need to consider some more practical matters, like living expenses.

Finding the Cheapest International Money Transfer Provider

As a global economic leader, France—and especially Paris—ranks among of the most expensive places to live, so it’s important to budget accordingly.  Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay around $785-$1,240 USD per month (in addition to tuition, which is relatively low at French universities).  Fortunately, there are a variety of international money transfer specialists that can help you send funds to France both cheaply and conveniently through online platforms.  They typically offer lower fees and better exchange rates than banks.  France is a member of the European Union and uses the Euro.  Transferring $1,000 USD to France would leave you with over 800 Euros (the exact amount varies depending on which provider you use). Take advantage of our comparison tool to find the best provider for your needs.  Because more Euros saved means more Euros for fresh croissants, French movies, and Parisian cafés!


Marisa Fasciano
Content Specialist
Marisa is a communications consultant based in New York with a background in social research, diversity education, and nonprofit development.  She has lived and traveled abroad extensively… Read more

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