Everyone knows the best way to learn a language is to live in the country. But maybe you aren’t able to pull up roots and move to France so you can practice with the locals and pick up new vocabulary words on a daily basis.
What if you could do this on a short-term basis? A week or two, a summer, a year? You could take a language vacation that enables you to learn French in the mornings then explore in the afternoons. Or you might wish for an intensive class, to fast-track your learning.
If you’re staying in France for a longer time for work or study, and you want weekly or bi-weekly classes, traditional courses might work the best for you… The classic go-to class for foreigners is the Alliance Française. You can even begin classes at one of the 850 chapters worldwide and transfer to France when you are ready to go. (Berlitz also has that option.) But there are many other formats that may offer just the features you are looking for. And most of these programs will either have housing available on-site or provide resources for lodging and logistics.
In this post, I’ll cover different options for the French language learner, whatever your style and time availability.
This is great if you are in France for a period of time longer than a standard vacation.
- Alliance Française alliancefr.org
- Berlitz berlitz.fr
- France Langue (Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Martinique) They also have an au pair program france-langue.com
- Lyon Bleu International (in Lyon) small group or private, intensive or semi-intensive available. Host family option available. lyon-bleu.fr
- Inflexyon, Lyon This is a more traditional program, but with the possibility of designing your own features. Courses of 17, 27, or 30 lessons. inflexyon.com
- Bordeaux International School, Bordeaux: Various programs exist to teach French to foreign students, including a 2-year program for those wishing to attend universities in France. bordeaux-school.com
- Idiom School, Nice: A language school in Provence that offers courses for adults, families, seniors, or professionals. Private or small group lessons are available. idiom-school.com
A Language Holiday
- Berlitz (study abroad program) as well as traditional classes/ host family option
- Live and Learn en Provence: Students share a house in a medieval village. Includes both classes and sight-seeing, culture and sports. Live-and-learn-en-provence.com
- Ecole des Trois Ponts: This school tucked in a lovely village close to Lyon and the Burgundy wine region has week-long immersion classes that can be combined with cooking classes or countryside walks. This is the only school I’ve seen that offers both French and cooking (along with wine and cheese appreciation!), so if you like both, this is worth investigating. Class size is limited to 6 and all meals are prepared by the in-house chef.
- Coeur de France Ecole de Langue: Two hours south of Paris in the heart of the Loire Valley (think wine, chateaux), you can study French from one to eight weeks, in this program designed for adults, couples and families. Lodging provided. coeurdefrance.com
- Millefeuille Provence: This is both intensive and a holiday at the same time. 30 hours of class per week and 20 hours of activities and excursions, based in a chateau near Avignon. millefeuille-provence.com
- Naturellement Francais: An immersion course in Provence. You’ll be acquainted with Provence village life and immersed in French during an exciting vacation.
- French in the Dordogne: The Dordogne is a region in southwestern France known for its picturesque villages and castles. (see Post). Immersion course for half day in French, the other half on trips and excursions, while giving an opportunity to practice the language outside. frenchinthedordogne.com
- Cours-a-Cucugnan, Aude Private or group lessons in the morning, with the afternoon free for exploration or leisure. cours-a-Cucugnan.com
- CREA-Langues, Provence: This one, two, or three-week adult French course takes you to a renovated monastery in the thick of Provence. The first week is intensive and the second two weeks are immersion. crealangues.com
- Ludo Expression: Study between one and four weeks in Carcassonne, a medieval walled city in southwest France. Host families or nearby apartments are available. http://en.ludoexpression.com/
- Institut de Français, Cote d’Azur (Provence) Four-week programs of intense French, 8 hours per day. institutdefrancais.com
- Alpine French School (Morzine, France) You can study intensively or less intensively, as you wish, in this alpine ski resort an hour from Geneva, Switzerland. Do outdoor sporting events while you learn French.
- Centre International d’Etudes des Langues (CIEL), Strasbourg: This international language school in eastern France offers intensive French classes in both general or business French. ciel-strasbourg.org.
- American University of Paris offers courses in June and July that last several weeks. You can take French or another subject. Credits can be transferred to your university. aup.edu/culturalsummer
- Centre de Linguistique Appliquée, Franche-Compté. This program is part of the University of France-Compte, an area in the east of France. Serious studies for college students, foreign embassies, employees, and those needing to be trained in French.
- Passeport pour les Langues, Cannes. This program on the Mediterranean Sea offers courses from June to August for students of all ages and families. They help arrange accommodations, including hoestay, if desired, or private apartments.
- Kinder Exchange, Fontainebleau: A cultural exchange and language-learning program for children, in a beautiful city an hour south of Paris. Ages 8 to 11. Children are matched with other children of the same age, staying together in each other’s homes. kinderexchange.org/english
- La Sorbonne, Paris: This historic school located in Paris’ Latin Quarter offers classes of 60 hours (6 hours per day) in small classes with other activities available. paris-sorbonne.fr/universite-ete. Many years ago I took a summer course here!
For extra help before and during your stay, check out my book, Real French for Travelers, which will give you additional vocabulary and realistic dialogues. The book is a helpful companion for your French studies or a self-study book by itself.
I hope that stirs your desire to study French in France! A little immersion and French culture and cuisine go a long way!