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27 October 2023

9 minutes read

Discover the Best Places to Study in France: Top Student Cities

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Are you considering the idea of studying in France? As one of the most popular study abroad destinations in the world, France offers a unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and top-notch education.

With its excellent universities, diverse landscapes, and strong international student population, France is the perfect place to pursue your academic dreams. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the best places to study in France, from the bustling cities to the charming towns, all offering a unique study abroad experience.

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Best Cities in France for Students

Lyon – The Gastronomic Capital

Study in France: Lyon

Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Lyon is often hailed as the gastronomic capital of France. But it’s not just about the food – Lyon boasts several prestigious universities and a rich cultural scene. The city’s historical old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a glimpse into France’s past, making it an ideal destination for history buffs.

Lyon’s universities, such as the University of Lyon and Lumière University Lyon 2, consistently rank among the top in France. International students can choose from a wide range of programs, from humanities to sciences, all while indulging in the city’s culinary delights.

With a student-friendly atmosphere, Lyon offers numerous cultural events, museums, and a bustling nightlife. The city’s central location in Europe also makes it easy to explore neighboring countries during your study-abroad adventure.

Grenoble – An Alpine City

Study in France: Grenoble

Nestled in the French Alps, Grenoble is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It’s also home to some top-notch universities and research institutions. If you’re interested in science or winter sports, Grenoble might be the perfect city to study in.

Grenoble’s crown jewel is Grenoble Alpes University, known for its strong emphasis on science and technology. The city’s proximity to the Alps offers fantastic opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking during your downtime.

The international student population in Grenoble is thriving, creating a multicultural environment where you can make friends from all over the world. Exploring the breathtaking natural landscapes of the Alps is just a short journey away from your academic pursuits.

Bordeaux – Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Study in France: Bordeaux

Famous for its wine, Bordeaux is a city that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. It’s known for its excellent business schools and universities. With its mild climate and proximity to both beaches and the French countryside, Bordeaux offers a well-rounded study-abroad experience.

The University of Bordeaux is a top choice for international students, offering programs in various fields, including business, science, and the humanities. Bordeaux’s reputation as a wine capital also means you can learn about viticulture and enology from experts in the field.

Apart from academics, Bordeaux’s cultural scene is thriving, with numerous theaters, music venues, and art galleries to explore. The city’s location in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region ensures that you’ll have access to some of the finest wines in the world.

Toulouse – Aerospace and Beyond

Study in France: Toulouse

Toulouse, often called the “Aerospace Capital of Europe,” is a hub for engineering and aerospace enthusiasts. The city’s universities are renowned for their science and technology programs. If you’re passionate about cutting-edge technology, Toulouse might be your ideal study destination.

The University of Toulouse and Toulouse Institute of Technology are among the institutions that attract international students interested in aerospace engineering, aviation, and related fields. Toulouse offers a unique opportunity to study in a city where Airbus and the European Space Agency have a significant presence.

When you’re not immersed in your studies, Toulouse’s warm climate and lively atmosphere provide the perfect backdrop for exploration. Discover the city’s historical sites, beautiful parks, and lively cafés during your time off.

Montpellier – Mediterranean Charm

Study in France: Montpellier

Montpellier, located in southern France, offers a Mediterranean climate and a vibrant student population. Its universities are known for their diverse academic programs, making it a popular choice for international students.

The University of Montpellier and Montpellier Business School are well-regarded institutions that welcome students from all over the world. Whether you’re pursuing a degree in the humanities, sciences, or business, Montpellier has something to offer.

The city’s Mediterranean location means you can enjoy warm, sunny days and stunning beaches in your free time. Montpellier’s historical old town, lively markets, and cultural events provide a perfect balance to your academic pursuits.

Cannes – The Glamorous City

Study in France: Cannes

Famous for its annual film festival, Cannes is a city that exudes glamour and charm. While it may be best known for its red carpets, Cannes also offers excellent universities and a unique study experience on the French Riviera.

Cannes University, known for its programs in communication, media, and entertainment, attracts students interested in the film industry and related fields. Studying in Cannes offers an unparalleled opportunity to network and learn from professionals in the glamorous world of cinema.

When you’re not rubbing shoulders with celebrities during the film festival, you can explore the stunning beaches, elegant boutiques, and vibrant nightlife that Cannes has to offer. It’s a city that beautifully combines academic excellence with a touch of Hollywood glamour.

HEC Paris – Excellence in Business Education

Study in France: HEC Paris

For those looking to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration, HEC Paris is one of the world’s top business schools. Located just outside the capital, Paris, HEC offers an excellent place to study business in a global context.

HEC Paris consistently ranks as one of the best business schools globally, with a strong emphasis on leadership and entrepreneurship. The campus is a melting pot of cultures and ideas, providing a rich learning environment for aspiring business leaders.

Studying at HEC Paris also means you’ll have easy access to the cultural and professional opportunities that the bustling city of Paris has to offer. It’s a perfect choice for those seeking a career in business on an international scale.

Paris – The City of Lights

Study in France: Paris

Last but certainly not least, Paris is by far one of the most iconic and sought-after study abroad destinations in the world. With its world-class universities, rich history, and unparalleled cultural experiences, the French capital offers the best of both worlds – academic excellence and the opportunity to explore one of the most famous cities on Earth.

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History and Culture

Paris is a city steeped in history and culture. From the iconic Eiffel Tower to the historic Louvre Museum, you’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s most famous landmarks. Studying in Paris means immersing yourself in a city that has been at the center of art, literature, and philosophy for centuries.

The city’s universities, including the Sorbonne and Sciences Po, are renowned for their academic excellence. Whether you’re pursuing a degree in the humanities, social sciences, or STEM fields, you’ll find world-class programs in Paris.

Cultural Experiences

Paris offers a wealth of cultural experiences beyond its famous monuments. Attend classical concerts at the Philharmonie de Paris, explore contemporary art at the Centre Pompidou, or enjoy a night at the opera at the Opéra Garnier. The city’s vibrant arts scene ensures that there’s always something exciting happening.

Culinary Delights

French cuisine is celebrated worldwide, and Paris is at its epicenter. Indulge in croissants and café au lait at charming sidewalk cafés, savor exquisite French pastries, and dine in Michelin-starred restaurants. Paris offers a culinary journey like no other.

Language Learning

Studying in Paris also provides an excellent opportunity to learn the French language. While many programs are available in English, immersing yourself in the local culture and practicing your French skills is a rewarding experience.


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Cost of Living

Understanding the cost of living in France is essential for international students planning to study in this beautiful country. While France offers an excellent education system and an enriching cultural experience, it’s crucial to manage your finances wisely. Let’s delve into the various aspects of the cost of living in France for international students.


Your choice of accommodation can significantly impact your monthly expenses. Here are some options to consider:

1. University Housing: Many universities in France offer affordable housing options for international students. These can range from dormitories to shared apartments. While they are usually budget-friendly, they may have limited availability, so apply early.

2. Private Rentals: Renting a private apartment or studio is another option. This provides more independence but tends to be more expensive. Prices vary widely based on the city and location.

3. Homestays: Living with a local family can be a great way to immerse yourself in French culture while potentially saving on accommodation costs. It also includes meals in most cases.

4. Flatshares: Sharing an apartment with other students or renters can reduce costs significantly. It’s a popular choice among students looking for a balance between affordability and independence.


French cuisine is renowned for its quality, but dining out frequently can add up. To manage your food expenses:

1. Cook at Home: Buying groceries and cooking your meals is one of the most cost-effective ways to eat in France. Local markets offer fresh produce and ingredients.

2. University Cafeterias: Most universities have on-campus cafeterias or restaurants that offer reasonably priced meals for students.

3. Eating Out Strategically: While dining at restaurants is a delightful experience, reserve it for special occasions. Enjoy the occasional café or bistro visit while exploring French cuisine.


Getting around in France is generally convenient, thanks to a well-developed public transportation system:

1. Public Transport: Most cities have reliable and affordable public transport networks, including buses, trams, and metros. Consider getting a monthly or yearly transportation pass for savings.

2. Bicycles: Many cities offer bike-sharing programs, making cycling a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to commute.

3. Walking: France’s cities are often pedestrian-friendly, and walking is not only healthy but also a great way to explore your surroundings.

4. Student Discounts: As a student, you may be eligible for discounts on transportation passes, so be sure to inquire about these opportunities.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for international students in France. While some countries have reciprocal agreements with France, it’s essential to check your eligibility and explore insurance options.

1. Social Security: If you’re from an EU/EEA country, you may be eligible for French Social Security. Non-EU/EEA students often need to purchase private health insurance.

2. University Coverage: Some universities offer group health insurance plans for international students. Check if your institution provides this option.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Additional expenses may include:

1. Books and Supplies: Budget for textbooks and course materials, which can vary depending on your program.

2. Mobile and Internet: Consider prepaid mobile plans and student internet packages to save on communication costs.

3. Entertainment: Explore free or low-cost entertainment options such as museums, parks, and student discounts for cultural events.

4. Travel: France’s central location in Europe makes it an ideal starting point for exploring neighboring countries. Plan your travels wisely to make the most of your experience.

Budgeting Tips

To effectively manage your finances while studying in France:

1. Create a Budget: Develop a monthly budget that outlines your income and expected expenses. Stick to it as closely as possible.

2. Part-Time Work: As mentioned in the FAQs, international students can work part-time in France. Consider part-time jobs to supplement your income, but ensure it doesn’t negatively impact your studies.

3. Student Discounts: Always carry your student ID card to take advantage of discounts on transportation, cultural events, and more.

4. Seek Financial Aid: Explore scholarships and financial aid options available for international students.

5. Banking: Open a local bank account to simplify money management and reduce currency conversion fees.

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International Student Community

Paris’s international student population is vast and diverse. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with students from all corners of the globe, making lifelong friendships and expanding your global network.

Explore the City

When you’re not in class, take time to explore the city’s neighborhoods. Stroll along the Seine River, visit charming Montmartre, and wander through the historic Latin Quarter. Each district has its own unique character and attractions.

France isn’t just about Paris; it’s a country with a diverse range of study destinations. Whether you’re interested in the arts, sciences, business, or technology, you’ll find a city in France that caters to your academic interests.

With a variety of programs, a welcoming international student population, and the chance to learn the French language, studying in France is an experience like no other.


France offers a world-class education system, a rich cultural heritage, and a high quality of life. Whether you choose to study in the bustling metropolis of Paris or the picturesque town of Montpellier, you’re sure to have an unforgettable study abroad experience in this beautiful country. So, pack your bags, brush up on your French, and embark on a journey to one of the best places to study in France!


What are the tuition fees like for international students in France?

Tuition fees in France vary depending on the university and program. Public universities generally have lower fees, while private institutions may be more expensive. However, compared to many other countries, France offers relatively affordable education for international students.

Can I study in France without speaking French fluently?

Yes, many universities in France offer programs in English, especially at the postgraduate level. While having a basic understanding of French can be helpful for daily life, it’s not always a requirement for academic studies.

How do I apply to universities in France as an international student?

You can apply to universities in France through the online application system called Campus France or directly to the universities of your choice. Be sure to check the specific admission requirements and deadlines for your desired program.

Are there scholarships available for international students in France?

Yes, France offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. You can explore opportunities through the French government, universities, and external organizations.

What is the cost of living like in France for international students?

The cost of living in France varies depending on the city and your lifestyle. On average, you should budget around 700 to 1,000 euros per month, which covers accommodation, food, transportation, and other expenses.

Can I work while studying in France as an international student?

Yes, international students in France are allowed to work part-time during their studies, typically up to 20 hours per week. This can help offset living expenses and gain valuable work experience.

What are some popular study-abroad destinations in France besides the cities mentioned in this article?

France has many other fantastic study-abroad destinations, including Aix-en-Provence, Strasbourg, and Nantes. Each offers its own unique cultural and academic experiences.

How can I make the most of my study abroad experience in France?

To make the most of your study abroad experience in France, immerse yourself in the local culture, explore the city and surrounding areas, participate in extracurricular activities, and connect with fellow students. Don’t forget to try the delicious French cuisine and embrace the opportunity to learn a new language.

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