France is a beautiful country with a long history of higher education. Located in Western Europe, it occupies a geographically diverse area from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Sea and the English Channel. This gives France stunning natural beauties you may wish to explore. Culturally, France is a country with a long history as well as rich artistic, philosophical and scientific tradition. France is one of the major centres of culture, cuisine and literature. All these reasons make it an exciting destination for international students across the world.
The top tourist attractions in France include:
- Eiffel Tower (Paris)
- Chateau de Versailles (Versailles)
- Mont Saint Michel (Normandy)
- The Cote d’Azure
- The Louvre (Paris)
- Mont Blanc (Western Europe’s largest mountain)
Cost of Studying & Living in France
France uses the Euro (€) for its currency. Tuition rates at public institutions are set by the government and they are very affordable. In fact, tuition rates at France’s public institutions of higher education are identical for domestic and international students.
Tuition costs are set every year. In 2017, average annual tuition costs for undergraduate studies were less than €200 (under US$250). For master’s studies, the rates are around €259 (around US$305) and for doctoral studies it’s around €393 (US$460). Students are often required to pay certain administration fees which raise tuition costs slightly. Despite these fees, studying in France remains one of the most affordable options for international students who seek a quality higher education.
These rates apply to public institutions only. If you wish to study at a private institution, the rates tend to be much higher and go up to €10,000 (US$12,000) per year.
There are also certain scholarships and mobility schemes available for those who wish to study abroad in France. Some of the most popular ones include grants from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, funding made by National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), awards from regional councils, Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programs.
Unlike tuition rates, costs of living in France tend to be higher than neighbouring countries. Luckily, students are often eligible to subsidised rates at restaurants and transportation. There is also specialised housing for students which is available to international students who wish to study in France. Costs of living are lower in smaller towns, so this is something to keep in mind when deciding on where to study.
International students will have several choices for accommodation in France. You could live in university accommodation for around €120 per month. The demand for these is very high, however. Selection is based on social criteria and given to exchange or scholarship students. Renting a private studio apartment will cost around €457-€542. Homestay is another option for international students. This will cost around €200-€800 per month depending on the location. Homestay also includes at least one meal per day provided.
Students have the option to apply for a grant from their local Caisse d’Allocation Familiale (CAF). It is free to apply for, and if you are eligible you can get up to 35% of your rent back monthly.
Other living costs may include:
- Electricity, gas, internet – €60 per month
- Study materials – €50 per month
- Travel card or transport pass – €70 per month
- Return train ticket – €25 (in advance)
- Groceries – €250 per month
- Eating out – €12 on average
- Gym membership – €38 per month
Many galleries and museums are free to people under the age of 26. France is one of the best countries for student discounts, so it is always worth asking about this when you go out.
Funding to study in France
As an international student hoping to study in France, there are is a variety of funding assistance options available to you. You may be eligible for a grant offered by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, or another kind of scholarship offered by the French government.
If you are not eligible for this type of grant or scholarship, you may be able to access funding assistance from your home government, or your institution of choice. For more information about what assistance you can apply for, as well as requirements and what details you need to provide, contact your institution.
Find out more about funding your studies in our Funding and Scholarships for International Students advice article.
How to Apply
The way in which you should apply as an international student differs depending on what kind of course you are applying for, as well as what level of study you are undertaking. If you are applying to a Grandes Écoles, you will need to contact them directly. If you are applying for a Licence degree, you will use the Parcoursup application platform. If you are applying to study at Masters level, you will need to contact the institution directly like French students do.
For more information about how you will need to apply, what the requirements are, and any deadlines that need to be met, you should get in touch with your institution of choice. In general, you will likely need to provide proof that you have sufficient funds, can understand the tuition language to a high enough standard, and have health insurance (if you are not an EU/EEA citizen).
Want to study abroad but not sure on how to begin? Take a look at our advice article on Deciding to study abroad: The first steps.
French Student Visas
If you wish to study in France, it’s important to inform yourself about all the possible visa requirements. French government regulates these issues and regulations depend on your citizenship.
For EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, no visa is required.
Applicants from outside the EU: You will need to obtain a visa, which includes a residence permit (VLS-TS). It is valid for one year and can be renewed later if necessary. In order to obtain this visa you have to complete an application form as well provide OFII (the French Office of Immigration and Integration) passport photos, proof of your qualifications, a police certificate attesting that you don’t have a serious criminal record, proof you can speak French (if your course is in French) and proof that you have sufficient financial means. Once you arrive in France you will need to contact OFII (you may need to take a medical examination).
If you are from a country inside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and a holder of an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) then you do not need to get health insurance. You will be able to access healthcare at the same places and same cost as local residents. If you are from a country outside of the EEA, you will need to purchase health insurance for your stay in France. This will cost around €20-€50 per month, depending on the cover.
International students will have to prove that they can financially support their studies. You should have around €7,400 per year in order to prove they can support themselves without working. However, international students are permitted to work up to 20 hours a week, so there are opportunities to earn more money.
For more information about getting a French student visa, see our France Student Visa Guide article.
Many French people speak languages other than their own. However, for effective communication and studying in France, you should know French. International students who are fluent in French have a much easier time with their studies and everyday life. If you feel your French is not good enough, there are many language courses available for the students who wish to perfect their language skills. Socialising with locals and making an effort to speak French is a good way to improve your language ability.
At the same time, you can study and communicate in English. However, international students are still encouraged to learn French and improve their language skills. Don’t take this as an obstacle but a challenge. Any sort of fluency in French will look great on a CV or resume!
In the event of your course being taught in French, you will need to prove that you are sufficiently fluent by taking one of the approved tests: TCF DAP (Test de Connaissance du Français, Demande d’Admission Préalable), DALF (diplôme approfondi de langue française) or CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). In case your course is in English, you should prove English language proficiency.
Many cities in France are homes to universities and other institutions of higher education. French cities are beautiful and atmospheric, so they provide unique experience to all international students.
It is easy to see why Paris is called the city of love. If nothing else, you’ll fall in love with the food and culture available. As a student, you’ll be studying in a culturally wealthy city, enhancing yourself both inside and outside of lectures. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and offers many opportunities to have a great time.
Paris is a major cultural center, with many attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and world-famous galleries such as the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay. Students will have a chance to experience Paris to the fullest: it’s nightlife, picturesque streets and lovely cafes. Being the capital, Paris also benefits from excellent universities and institutions, many of which specialise in particular subjects. Living in Paris provides an excellent opportunity for all international students who wish to study at a prestigious institution while experiencing the city in all its beauty.
Find out more about Universities in Paris.
Lyon is located near France’s border with Italy and Switzerland. This beautiful medieval city is known as the culinary capital of France. It is also the most affordable city for students. The city has stunning architecture all visitors admire, particularly as Lyon’s well-preserved architecture has gained UNESCO World Heritage Status. International students who like nature and winter sports will like the proximity of the French Alps.
The city is known as one of France’s main financial centres and in addition to many interesting sites, Lyon has a lot to offer for those who seek higher education. It has 4 major universities: Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon, Université Lumière Lyon and Université Jean Moulin Lyon.
Lille is located in the north-west of France, and it serves as a great base for exploring the rest of the country as well as countries of Northern Europe. Lille was once known as one of the main industrial centres of France. In the recent years, the city has expanded its cultural scene and commercial aspects. If you wish to study in France, consider Lille: it offers many advantages of living in a smaller town. It has plenty of opportunities for education and it serves as a good base for international students. At the same time, it is not as busy or expensive as some of the larger cities, such as Paris.
Bordeaux is a famous port city in the south-western France. This is a capital of the wine industry and a home to the world’s greatest wine fair, Vinexpo. The city has a long history of wine production: Bordeaux wine has been produced in this region since the 8th century. The city is also known for its remarkable architecture, and the old part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Bordeaux is known as the City of Art and History and it’s home to one of Europe’s largest 18th century architectural urban areas.
Bordeaux offers plenty of opportunities for international students seeking higher education. The famous University of Bordeaux was originally created in the 15th century. Today, it has a student body of about 70,000 and it’s divided into 4 sectors: 1 for Maths, Physical sciences and Technologies, 2 for Medicine and Life sciences, 3 for Liberal Arts, Languages, Humanities and History and 4 for Law, Economy and Management. There is also the Institute of Political Sciences of Bordeaux.
Sitting on the banks of the River Garonne, Toulouse is the fourth-largest city in France. Nicknamed la Ville Rose (‘the Pink City’), the city has a unique architecture made up of pinkish terracotta bricks. Toulouse boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Canal du Midi, and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe.
Located in the city are several higher education institutions. The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe, and was founded in 1229. You will also find Toulouse Business School, Toulouse School of Economics, and INSA Toulouse in the city, among many others.