The diverse regions of France offer everything from picturesque villages steeped in history to thriving metropolises full of fashion-forward culture. A founding member of the European Union and the United Nations, France plays an integral role in international politics. Visit castles and beaches, and delve into a culture that has always been known for its world-famous art, wine and cuisine.



Languages Spoken:

French

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Students looking to pursue higher education in France have many options. Students can choose to attend public universities or may attempt to gain admission into specialized schools. 

Public Universities 

France’s system of higher education enrolls 2.2 million students, two-thirds of whom attend the country’s 88 public universities. In order to be admitted into the university system, students must pass the baccalauréat, or as it is more commonly known, the bac. The bac is a national examination taken after the third year of high school. The universities in France offer academic, technical and professional degree programs in all disciplines, preparing students for careers in research and professional practice in every imaginable field. They offer dozens of different national diplomas. 

Short degree programs, generally involving two or three years of study, are concentrated in the fields of manufacturing, trade and services. Most are offered by multidisciplinary institutes affiliated with a university – the so-called university institutes of technology, or IUTs. 

Grandes Écoles 

Grandes écoles are selective in their admissions and enroll far fewer students than the universities (which can enroll 100,000 students). They train students for careers in engineering, management, art and architecture, to name just a few. They are unique institutions, prestigious and very selective. Their programs are so well attuned to the needs of industry that their graduates are in very high demand. To be admitted into the grandes écoles, students must take two years of preparatory courses or cours préparatoires after they pass the bac, which prepares them for the concours (or entrance examination) to these highly competitive schools. 

Degrees 

The system of degrees awarded in French higher education reflects a common European architecture. The LMD system — for licence (bachelor), master and doctorate — is based on the number of semesters completed since leaving secondary school, and their equivalent in European credits under the European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS): 

Licence = six semesters = 180 ECTS (Baccalauréat + three years) 

Master = 10 semesters = 300 ECTS (Baccalauréat + five years) 

Doctorat = 16 semesters (Baccalauréat + eight years) 

 

STUDYING AT A FRENCH UNIVERSITY 

French universities operate in ways that are quite different from the system with which you are familiar. Understanding the differences will help you plan your program of study in France, use your time effectively while you are there and return with transferable credits. French students follow a highly structured curriculum specific to the degree they are pursuing from day one at the university. They do not take "liberal arts" or general education requirements before focusing on a major or area of study as most U.S. students do. At the end of each year, they must pass a set of required exams before they can move on to the next year's program. 

In general, French students have to assume more responsibility for themselves on campus than American students. They do not have as many campus support systems as American students, and they too may experience frustration when they first begin their studies. The amount of information you receive before you leave and during the first days or weeks of your stay abroad may seem overwhelming. However, if you review the material sent to you by ISEP and your host institution carefully, you will be better prepared to meet the challenges of adjusting to a different system, and find your coordinator and professors better equipped to help you. 

French professors are not as accessible as their American counterparts. Increasingly, however, professors do have office hours or may be available if you make an appointment. They will also be willing to answer questions and discuss problems before or immediately after class. It would be a good idea to introduce yourself to the professor at the beginning of the year, explaining that you are an international student. Do ask other students in class for advice or assistance if you do not understand something. 

In France the academic year begins in September or October and ends in May or June. The exact starting and ending dates vary from institution to institution and from program to program. Often times, the different departments or facultés have different start and end dates, so be sure to consult each departmental calendar to know when courses begin and end. 

 

There are several breaks during the year: 

-Two weeks in December-January for Christmas and the New Year 

-Two weeks in February for winter break 

-Two weeks in late March to early April for the Easter break 

Quite a few holidays fall in May: May 1 (Labor Day), May 8 (Victory Day, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe), Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Monday. 

Summer vacation stretches over the entire months of July and August, and sometimes includes parts of June and September as well. 

 

STUDYING IN FRANCE 

Courses 

French university courses are of two basic types: 

-Lecture courses are given in halls seating from 100 to 1,000 students. These are called cours magistraux (CM). The professor presents the subject; students take notes. Many professors prepare and distribute course outlines or lecture notes that help students prepare for exams. 

-Study sections, known as travaux dirigés (TD), consist of small groups of students. In the seminar-style sections, students apply and deepen what the professor has presented in the lecture hall. Attendance is mandatory. 

Because French students have very little choice with regard to the courses they take within their area of study, French universities often do not publish detailed course descriptions or course catalogues. Rather, a list of modules or unités d’enseignement with an indication of the number of hours per week or the total number of class hours for the course and the corresponding ECTS credits is provided. This information can often be found online under "formation", "licence (for a certain area of study)" and "programme." 

 

For example, you may see for a course description like such: 

L1 semestre 1 

UEF « Histoire moderne » / ECTS: 6 

Initiation à l’histoire moderne (1h30 CM + 2h TD) 

 

This can be interpreted as follows: 

 

L1 semestre 1 = first year of the license, semester one 

UEF: Unité d’enseignement fondamenteaux or a required course for the degree 

Introduction to Modern History for six ECTS credits 

1h30 CM = 1 hour 30 minutes per week of cours magistraux, or lecture 

2 h TD = 2 hours per week of travaux dirigés, or study section 

 

Registration 

Registration (inscription) is the process of enrollment into the university; you will fill out many forms and hand in several passport-size photos in order to receive the various university cards signifying your enrollment. 

Course Selection

As an exchange student, you have greater flexibility in choosing courses than French students do. You do not need to take a complete package of courses at one level. However, if you focus on courses in one or two departments, you will find it easier to put together a schedule, your program of studies will be more cohesive, and you will have a better chance of getting to know French students because you will be seeing the same group on a regular basis. 

Selection of courses is done during registration. You should expect to have to go to each building that houses the faculté (department) of the course you wish to take, find the administrative office, ask for a course listing and sign up for the desired course. Students should be aware that the registration process can take several days. French universities are not as "service-oriented" as those in the United States and there are many students for few administrators. Ask questions of your ISEP host coordinator if you have trouble registering. Also, the add-drop process is very informal. You may want to observe several classes before making your final selection and to make sure that you will be able to follow the course and fulfill all course requirements. Remember to consult about any changes in your course selections with your host and home coordinators and advisors. Be sure to keep track of your courses, including course titles, hours, professors, and assignments for after your exchange. In all cases, you must verify all of your course information with your host coordinator to ensure that you have enrolled properly. 

Course Load 

The actual number of hours in a class varies according to the department or subject and the amount of work expected of students outside class. Courses usually meet 1-2 hours each week, meaning you will probably be taking a higher number of courses than at home. Most current ISEP students in France are taking 24-30 ECTS per semester. 

Exams & Grading 

Student performance is assessed in two ways: 

-Short quizzes given throughout the semester allow instructors to check what their students have learned in each unit. 

-Examinations covering all the material presented during the semester are given at the end of each semester, generally just before the February break and again in June, before the summer break.

Some U.S. universities will only award credit if you have an exam grade. Exams may be oral or written. The professor will grade you as he or she does a French student. Although the grading system in France goes from 0 to 20, the grades from 0 to 14 are generally used; 15 and 16 are relatively rare; 17 and 18, very rare; and no one is sure that 19 and 20 really exist. A 10 is about a U.S. "C"; in some courses an eight or nine may be a "C" for a non-native speaker; 12 is good. Above that - bravo! 

The atmosphere at a French university may seem low pressure, but even if a class does not require regular assignments, you must keep up with the reading and attend classes. Final examinations are given at the end of each course. ISEP students should check with professors to determine when the exam will be given as most professors do not provide a syllabus at the beginning of a course. As a foreign student, you may not be required to take the final exam. You may be able to substitute written assignments for the exam. Check with the professor to find out whether you are expected to take the exam in order to get a grade (in many instances, the exam might be the only evidence that you have taken the class) or whether you can substitute other assignments. Taking a final does not automatically entitle you to a grade since you must pass your exams to receive a grade. Also, make sure to register for the exam in addition to taking it. 

If you make any special arrangements with a professor, obtain the agreement in writing signed by both you and the professor. Provide a copy of the agreement to both your home and host ISEP coordinators and keep a copy for yourself. Without an agreement in writing, it is expected that you will take all final exams. Credit transfer is not guaranteed if you fail to take exams or provide written proof of other arrangements. 

At the end of the exchange, the faculté will award you a final average. The grades you receive from the faculté are not contestable. The only way to modify a bad grade is to do supplementary work, the grade for which will be averaged with the bad one. 

Transcripts 

Before you leave for France check with your home institution about conditions for credit transfer. 

Students should be sure to provide a list of course titles and codes, professors, number of hours per week and the professor’s signature to the host ISEP coordinator. Your host coordinator may provide a standard form to assist you with this. In many cases, ISEP students have been able to learn their results and report this to their coordinator before they depart. Final results are very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain if the student has not provided such a list. Students should also bring all exam papers, graded homework and papers, and any other work home to their home institution to assist with credit transfer. 

French universities do not generate annual grade reports for students. Exam grades are usually posted on faculté bulletin boards. Transcripts must be requested and are usually not available until a student has completed a diploma. Your ISEP coordinator will provide an official transcript but only if you have given them a complete list of your courses and professors. The average grade for your class assignments may be listed on your transcript, under the heading controle continu. The transcript will be sent from your host coordinator to ISEP Global in Washington, D.C., to be forwarded to your home coordinator. 

REMINDER: Credit transfer is not guaranteed if you fail to take exams or provide written proof of other arrangements. 

Visa and Residency

(1) CAMPUS FRANCE (2) STUDENT VISA (3) RESIDENCE PERMIT

Introduction 

ALL students studying in France for more than 90 days (with the exception of European Union and European Economic Community passport-holders) must obtain a student visa prior to departing for France and French overseas departments. Students should begin visa application procedures as soon as they accept their placement, or at least four months prior to departure. 

Students studying in France for less than 90 days (summer programs) do NOT need to obtain a visa before arrival. 

Once a visa application is submitted, it can take up to eight weeks for the consulate to issue the visa depending on your jurisdiction. Students should verify estimated wait times with their specific consulate and plan accordingly. The visa processing time may take longer for students studying in the French overseas department (DOM) of La Réunion. 

In almost all cases you will be required to appear in person at the consulate to apply for the visa. Remember, your local French Consulate or visa application center is the official source of all visa information. If you have questions regarding the student visa application, you must contact your local French Consulate. ISEP cannot contact consulates on behalf of students. Visa fees and any visa-related travel costs are the responsibility of the student.  

Step 1: Submit your CampusFrance Application

Before submitting your visa application, students from the following countries are first required to enroll in CampusFrance. If you are applying in one of the countries below, NO visa will be granted without prior enrollment through the CampusFrance website. Students from all other countries can jump to Step 2. 

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, United States of America, Vietnam

Students from these countries must:

1) Go to CampusFrance.org, and then to the Campus France website particular to your home country or country of residence. The list of countries can be found by clicking on the Countries/Sites button in the upper-right part of the homepage. 

2) Once on the webpage for your home country, navigate to the application page for students "already accepted," and/or the page for those applying for a "long-stay visa" (depending on your country-specific website). 

You can register with CampusFrance immediately, but you cannot submit your materials to CampusFrance until you formally sign your ISEP Acceptance Package AND receive the official acceptance letter from your host university in France. A copy of the letter from your host university should be submitted with your CampusFrance payment. Please be sure to complete any required internal application for your host university as soon as possible to ensure you receive your acceptance letter in time to start the visa application process. 

3) A few application tips: 

- When filling out the CampusFrance application, ISEP students are considered exchange/study abroad students. Follow the instructions as such.

- It's best to submit your CampusFrance materials as early as possible to avoid delays, which often occur just before the start of each semester.

- If possible, it is recommended that you set English or your native language on the CampusFrance site (upper righthand corner of the page) as your default language to avoid any misunderstandings in working through the application.

- Education term: "Bac + number" is used to indicate the number of years after the completion of your secondary school (high school) education. For example, Bac+1 = first year after you complete secondary school, Bac + 2 = second year after you complete secondary school, Bac + 4 = fourth year after you complete secondary school.

- You are not a "boursier" (French government scholarship holder) even though you might receive financial aid at your home institution or from your home country.

- Do not worry about sections/questions dealing with DALF/DELF exams, internships, or your resume. The aim of the CampusFrance application for study abroad students is to have you provide as much demographic and educational information as possible. Fill out as much as you can so you can complete your CampusFrance application.

- ISEP students are NOT required to take a language test or have an interview with CampusFrance. You may note "Exempt" from interview on your pastel account. This DOES NOT mean you are exempt from an interview with your consulate. This simply means that you are exempt from a CampusFrance interview.

- If you don't receive a response after your submission, wait 3 weeks from the time of your application submission (if this is the processing time you have selected) to contact CampusFrance. It’s recommended to contact CampusFrance through the CampusFrance messaging portal where you complete your application.

Step 2: Submit Student Visa Application to your Consulate

Go to the FranceVisas website to start your visa application. Almost all French Consulates will require visa applicants to apply in-person, as the collection of biometrics is a requirement of the France visa application process. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: In addition to the standard visa application, the French immigration (OFII) form should be completed by the following students and submitted with the rest of your visa paperwork:

- ALL students who will be staying in France for more than six months (180 days)

- Students who will be staying in France for a period of time between three and six months (for a total duration of 91-180 days) who wish to be allowed to work or intern in France while studying

- Students who will be staying in France for a period of time between three and six months (for a total duration of 91-180 days) who wish to be able to extend the visa once they are in France

Students should bring the OFII form to their consulate appointment and should make sure to print their e-mail address very carefully on the form to avoid any risk of confusion or error.

Students spending between 91 and 180 days in France may "opt out" of the OFII procedure. This decision is made at the time of application for the visa at the Consulate/VAC in a student’s home country and cannot be changed afterwards. Students who opt out of the OFII procedure may not work in France or extend their stay. 

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR U.S. STUDENTS: 

U.S. students applying for the French student visa will submit their visa applications at one of eight Visa Application Centers across the U.S. (Washington D.C., Boston, New York City, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco) rather than at the local Consulate. It is strongly recommended that students begin the process at the earliest possible time in the event of unforeseeable delays. 

Students MUST apply in-person but can schedule a visa appointment at any one of the eight Visa Application Centers, regardless of jurisdiction. Appointments can be made on the France-Visas website once students have completed their CampusFrance AND France-Visas applications. The visa application appointment can occur no sooner than 90 days before the departure date, but students may start the CampusFrance application as soon as they have received their acceptance letter from their host university in France. 

APPLICATION MATERIALS: 

For your visa application, most students will need the following documents, but you should verify specific application and documentation requirements with your consulate:

- COPY: A copy of the student’s official acceptance letter from the host university in France, addressed to the student and mentioning their full name, printed on institutional letterhead and specifying the exact dates (day, month, year) of the academic program and including full contact information for the individual issuing the offer or acknowledgment, as well as the full address of the educational institution, and be signed and stamped. Said address may serve as the student’s temporary address in France for the purposes of the visa application. 

- COPY: An e-mail message from CampusFrance with the subject line "confirmation e-mail" (if your home country requires the CampusFrance Application - see above) 

Attention: This message should not be confused with the earlier message from CampusFrance notifying the student of the creation of their CampusFrance account, or with the message indicating that a receipt for payment was available for download.

- COPY: Receipt for payment issued by CampusFrance (if your home country requires the CampusFrance Application - see above) 

- ORIGINALS: 2 application forms for extended-stay visa, completed and signed.

-Note: students should request a "multiple-entry" visa 

- ORIGINALS: 2 recent photographs in passport photo format.

- ORIGINAL + 1 PHOTOCOPY:

- (i) Original passport in good condition, with a date of expiration at least 3 months after the end of the student’s proposed stay in the Schengen area, issued within the past 10 years and containing at least 2 blank pages.

- (ii) Photocopy of the pages containing the passport holder’s personal data ("face page").

- Citizens of third countries: (i) Passport in good condition, with a date of expiration at least 3 months after the end of the student’s proposed stay in the Schengen area, issued within the past 10 years and containing at least 2 blank pages. (ii) Photocopy of the pages containing the passport holder’s personal data plus photocopy of the pages containing the student’s proof of legal presence in the country (green card, visa, I-20 or other immigration paperwork, etc.). Nationals of other countries must be in possession of a valid visa to re-enter the country where they study full-time after their program in France.

- ORIGINAL + 1 PHOTOCOPY: Proof of sufficient means of support.

- In most cases, ISEP Exchange students may submit their Letter of Certification and ISEP contract (specifics of housing/meal stipends) as proof of sufficient means of support.

- ISEP Direct programs that do not include meals may require students to prove that they have access to additional funds. Proof may be provided in the form of (i) a bank statement or (ii) a notarized statement from a guarantor declaring that the guarantor will provide the student applicant with the required amount per month, accompanied by the guarantor’s most recent bank statement.

- ORIGINAL: An airline reservation showing date of departure or a handwritten and legible statement from the applicant indicating the intended date of departure, as well as a formal commitment not to depart before that date. It is not possible to modify the start date of a visa once the application is made.

- Visa application and processing fee (nonrefundable - check your the FranceVisas information for your home country, as the rate of exchange changes frequently)

Remember to keep a copy of all documents for your own records! Students are also advised to bring all records to France in case they are necessary after arrival. 

You should use the online student visa application that is provided. The visa can take up to eight weeks to process once a student has the in-person visa appointment, although this varies by consulate. 

Step 3: Once in France

Contact your host coordinator to help you navigate the visa process. This process is also generally explained during the onsite orientaiton. Long stay visa holders who need to complete the OFII form will have to register with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) within a few days of arrival in France.

Students who choose to go through the OFII procedure are expected to limit their travel to the Schengen area after their first 90 days in France if they have not yet received their OFII vignette.

Students will have to send by registered mail to their local OFII:

- A completed OFII Residence form (Demande d’Attestation).

- A copy of the ID pages of passport and of the immigration stamp received at the border.

You will then be requested to appear for an interview and medical examination with:

- Your passport.

- Proof of accommodation in France.

- One ID picture.

- Means of payment for the processing fees for students.

When the file is complete, a registration stamp will be added to your passport.

Important information regarding foreign travel while waiting to complete OFII paperwork:

1) If you wish to travel outside of France but within the Schengen zone: a valid multiple-entry long stay visa will suffice to travel in the Schengen Area.*

2) If you wish to travel outside of France and the Schengen zone or return to your home country: 

A. Within the first three months of your arrival in France, travel is authorized without the OFII sticker or proof of paperwork submission ("attestation de dépôt de dossier") provided you have a valid multiple-entry long stay visa 

B. Beyond three months, the OFII sticker is mandatory or, in its absence, proof that you have submitted your paperwork to the OFII ("attestation de dépôt de dossier") to leave France. If you have not submitted your paperwork to the OFII in the indicated timeframe (3 months), you will need to apply for another long stay visa in your home country.

Please note that you should consult your local OFII and your host coordinator to verify the correct process and documents necessary for registration upon arrival.

*A Note Regarding the Schengen Area

France is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

Current Schengen signature countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. 

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and, most notably, the United Kingdom are NOT part of the Schengen zone.

Culture

CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT

Become aware of the cultural, social, political and economic facts of life in France and you will be vastly rewarded, as there is no subject dearer to the heart of the French than that of la vie française.

Seeing a new country is so much more than seeing its cathedrals and other historical landmarks. It means so much more to learn about the people, what impressions and influences have shaped them and continue to influence their responses to life.

Alexandra Wells, ISEP participant from Ball State to Rennes 2

Do not expect everything to be just as it is back home. Above all, do not assume that those you encounter on the street or in shops will speak English. The French are proud of their language and way of life, and your efforts to speak French and live like a local will be appreciated and will go far in your interactions with those you meet.

When greeting people, the French will either shake hands or kiss on both cheeks. The former prevails when meeting strangers, while the latter is common among friends. If you are unsure whether to shake hands or faire la bise (give a kiss), wait to see what is initiated by the other person and follow from there.

It is always important to consider gender relations when traveling to a new country, as these can vary greatly according to cultural context. Women in particular should be cautious when interacting with strangers in a new environment. Some individuals may not understand that a familiar way with others, for example, is merely a gesture of friendliness and may misconstrue it as something more. Firmly say "no" to any invitation you don't want to accept, and give your address only to people you know and trust. We are not advocating narrow-mindedness, but rather pointing out that cultural differences, if not understood, could lead you into a difficult situation.

For more information about French culture and advice for adapting smoothly into your host country, ISEP recommends Polly Platt's book French or Foe.


FOOD AND MEAL TIMES

Food plays a major role in the country's social life. Wine and cheese are sources of national pride and reflect regional differences. Meals are ritualized and full of social and cultural meaning. There are also political aspects to the meaning of food. For instance, there has recently been much concern about the quality of "engineered" food and a rejection of foods that have been genetically altered.

The three main meals are le petit déjeuner (breakfast), le déjeuner (lunch) and le dîner (dinner). Although the midday meal had great importance in an agricultural economy and is still the main meal in rural areas, there is a tendency for families to eat the largest meal in the evening. Breakfast is a light meal of bread, cereal, yogurt and coffee or hot chocolate. Lunch and dinner generally involve several courses, at minimum a first course (l'entree) and a main dish (le plat), followed by cheese and/or dessert. In restaurants, it is common to have a price that includes all these courses, with a choice of dishes.

Meals involve a succession of courses eaten one at a time. A typical family meal starts with a soup, followed by vegetables and a meat dish and then a salad, cheese and dessert. Wine is commonly served at meals. Convenience foods are becoming more prevalent, and fast food is a growing trend.

STRIKES

Strikes (Grèves) in France are quite common; the right to strike is guaranteed in the French constitution, with the public sector having the highest frequency.

In France, striking is just part of the process. There is little bargaining between management and workers before things get to the decision stage. At that point, management acts and the workers respond. The concept of collective bargaining does not exist in France.

It is not uncommon at the national or local level for teachers, doctors and transport workers to strike – be it long term or just for a day or so. SNCF (national French train company) strikes can be quite disrupting, as France depends greatly on its rail system.

Daily Life

CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT

Become aware of the cultural, social, political and economic facts of life in France and you will be vastly rewarded, as there is no subject dearer to the heart of the French than that of la vie française.

Seeing a new country is so much more than seeing its cathedrals and other historical landmarks. It means so much more to learn about the people, what impressions and influences have shaped them and continue to influence their responses to life.

Alexandra Wells, ISEP participant from Ball State to Rennes 2

Do not expect everything to be just as it is back home. Above all, do not assume that those you encounter on the street or in shops will speak English. The French are proud of their language and way of life, and your efforts to speak French and live like a local will be appreciated and will go far in your interactions with those you meet.

When greeting people, the French will either shake hands or kiss on both cheeks. The former prevails when meeting strangers, while the latter is common among friends. If you are unsure whether to shake hands or faire la bise (give a kiss), wait to see what is initiated by the other person and follow from there.

It is always important to consider gender relations when traveling to a new country, as these can vary greatly according to cultural context. Women in particular should be cautious when interacting with strangers in a new environment. Some individuals may not understand that a familiar way with others, for example, is merely a gesture of friendliness and may misconstrue it as something more. Firmly say "no" to any invitation you don't want to accept, and give your address only to people you know and trust. We are not advocating narrow-mindedness, but rather pointing out that cultural differences, if not understood, could lead you into a difficult situation.

For more information about French culture and advice for adapting smoothly into your host country, ISEP recommends Polly Platt's book French or Foe.


FOOD AND MEAL TIMES

Food plays a major role in the country's social life. Wine and cheese are sources of national pride and reflect regional differences. Meals are ritualized and full of social and cultural meaning. There are also political aspects to the meaning of food. For instance, there has recently been much concern about the quality of "engineered" food and a rejection of foods that have been genetically altered.

The three main meals are le petit déjeuner (breakfast), le déjeuner (lunch) and le dîner (dinner). Although the midday meal had great importance in an agricultural economy and is still the main meal in rural areas, there is a tendency for families to eat the largest meal in the evening. Breakfast is a light meal of bread, cereal, yogurt and coffee or hot chocolate. Lunch and dinner generally involve several courses, at minimum a first course (l'entree) and a main dish (le plat), followed by cheese and/or dessert. In restaurants, it is common to have a price that includes all these courses, with a choice of dishes.

Meals involve a succession of courses eaten one at a time. A typical family meal starts with a soup, followed by vegetables and a meat dish and then a salad, cheese and dessert. Wine is commonly served at meals. Convenience foods are becoming more prevalent, and fast food is a growing trend.

STRIKES

Strikes (Grèves) in France are quite common; the right to strike is guaranteed in the French constitution, with the public sector having the highest frequency.

In France, striking is just part of the process. There is little bargaining between management and workers before things get to the decision stage. At that point, management acts and the workers respond. The concept of collective bargaining does not exist in France.

It is not uncommon at the national or local level for teachers, doctors and transport workers to strike – be it long term or just for a day or so. SNCF (national French train company) strikes can be quite disrupting, as France depends greatly on its rail system.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference the Health and Safety section of the ISEP website for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about mainland France can be found here.

Detailed information about the French Antillies, including Guadeloupe and Martinique, can be found here.

Detailed information about Réunion can be found here

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State and the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Non-U.S. and British nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates, Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements and Travel Advice Help and Support sections. 

Currency

CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE

France uses the Euro as it is the common currency of the European Union.

Compare your currency to the Euro.

BANK ACCOUNTS

When studying in France, you are required to open a bank account as your stipend will be deposited directly into that account by the host university. You should open an account during your first week at your host university and provide the account information to your host ISEP coordinator or the person on campus who handles financial issues for ISEP students in order to ensure speedy processing of your stipend. Your coordinator will advise you about recommended banks and procedures. Foreigners have little difficulty opening bank accounts. Usually the type of account that a foreigner holds is a special checking account for foreigners, called, reasonably enough, un compte d'étranger.

This account is similar to a U.S. account. The essential difference is that if you deposit your money in dollars, it is changed into euros at the exchange rate of the day it clears. Usually, three days are required before a deposit clears.

La Banque Nationale de Paris offers a completely free checking account of this type with monthly statements, and its checks are widely accepted throughout the country. Two of the other larger banks are the Crédit Agricole and Société Générale.

COST OF GENERAL ITEMS

Meals and Food Items
A meal

  • at a university restaurant: €3.00
  • at a fast-food restaurant: €7
  • at a neighborhood café or restaurant: €10-20
  • a sandwich: €3-5
  • coffee: €1-2
  • bread: €0.80
  • croissant: €1
  • cheese: €2-6
  • eggs: €1.50
  • 1 liter of milk: €1.20
  • 1 kg of potatoes: €1.20
  • 1 kg of rice: €1.90

Recreation and Amusements

  • Movie ticket (student rate): €6.80
  • Museum admission: €5-10
  • Theater ticket: €10-30
  • Newspaper: €1.20
  • Night in a mid-range hotel: €60
  • Admission to public swimming pool: €2.50
  • DVD player: €50-150
  • MP3 player: €30-150

Transportation

  • Monthly pass, Paris transport: €55-122
  • Round-trip ticket between Paris and Nice by high-speed train: €135
  • 1 liter of gasoline: €1.20

Sources of Information

LINKS

http://fr.franceguide.com
Maison de la France, the official site for tourism

http://www.france.com/
The French Information Center.

http://www.voyages-sncf.com
French National Railway reservations and information.

http://www.americansinfrance.net/
Resource for living and traveling in France.

http://www.wasteels.fr/
Voyages Wasteels

http://wikitravel.org/en/France
Wikitravel entry for France.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

*All links below will take you to the Amazon.com Web site for content and purchasing information.


Guides

Lonely Planet France 2009

Culture, History, and Politics

Culture Shock! France: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Culture Shock! France)

Asselin, Gilles and Ruth Mastron. Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French

Carroll, Raymonde. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience

Howarth, David and Georgios Varouxakis. Contemporary France: Introduction to French Politics and Society (Hodder Arnold Publication)

Nadeau, Jean-Benoit and Julie Barlow. Sixty Million Frenchmen Cant Be Wrong

Platt, Polly. French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France

Traveler's Health

CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010 (Health Information for International Travel)

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