October 6, 2017
October 6, 2017

Metropolitan France is the largest nation in Western Europe, with a total area of 674,843 square kilometres. It is surrounded by Belgium and Luxembourg, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and by water bodies the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean.

France is a land of flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west, forests and mountainous areas in the Pyrénées (south), Alps (east), and lower Vosges mountains (north east). The capital city is Paris.

Five Points About France

  • Very popular study destination and welcoming to international students in admissions policies
  • Incredible diversity of higher education institutions as well as programmes – something for everyone
  • High-quality, well-recognized degrees
  • Amazingly rich, old, and vibrant culture – a main reason France is the world’s #1 tourist destination
  • Many French schools have added international elements to their courses, allowing students to experience other European cultures


    Mainland France has cool winters and mild summers, with the occasional Mistral wind. The Mediterranean coast has mild winters and hot summers.

    Society and Culture

    France and particularly Paris have been key centres in European cultural development, including philosophy, arts, architecture, design, fashion, music, cuisine, wine, and filmmaking. A tradition of independent thinking has helped to fuel significant periods of internal social unrest. French beliefs and values hold that quality of life is of the essence and that work, a home, and education are essential rights.

    Food and drink play a major role in French culture, with fresh produce, fine meats, cheese, and wine the mainstays of the family table and a source of pride internationally. Meals are generally slow, often with several courses, and accompanied by conversation.

    The urban areas of France contain a diverse multicultural society. Football, tennis, skiing, and equestrianism are popular sports. Boules games are a traditional marketplace social activity in regional villages.


    France’s economy is the fifth-largest in the world in nominal terms and is a member of the G8 and G20 groups of leading industrialized countries. It has transitioned from an interventionist to a free market economy, with gradual privatisation of public assets and labour reforms; still, the government continues to play a significant role in some areas of the economy, particularly with regard to infrastructural industries. It has a mixed industrial and agricultural export-oriented economy, and is also prioritising its knowledge economy. France has an international reputation for excellence in the fields of space, transportation, sciences, biotechnology, health, and electronics, which many people attribute to its excellent higher education system.

    With 82 million foreign tourists per year, France is the world’s most visited country and has the third-largest income from tourism in the world. The currency is the Euro.

    Living Conditions and Cost of Living

    Students can live reasonably well on around €800 a month (other than Paris, which is more like €1,000): accommodation €215–€450; food €210; books/stationery €50 and other €250, depending on location and lifestyle. An accommodation grant may be available for international students from the 2nd month (the amount varies according to rent, e.g., for a university room at €215, the grant is around €95). Tuition fees vary considerably, €500–€15,000 per year. Language courses can be expensive, depending on the type of institution and whether it is public or private. The average cost of health insurance is around €40–€50 per month.

    Education System

    France spends more per capita on education (20% of total budget) than many other Western countries and has traditionally had high academic standards. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) currently ranks the French education system 25th in the world.

    Prospective international students must contact individual institutions directly for admission information and requirements for studying in France. Most programmes are taught in French, although more higher education institutions are now offering courses in English. Entry requires appropriate French-language proficiency. Some students may need to sit a French language test or undertake a French-language course. Enrolments should be made no later than September.

    Information Specific to International Students

    France has more international students than any country except for the U.K. and the U.S. The French higher education system is very accessible to international students; admission requirements are in fact the same for international students as for French students.

    Prospective international students should check current visa requirements at the French embassy or consulate in their home country. A long-term student visa is required for study exceeding six months, except for EU members and other specified countries. Passports must be valid for the length of stay. Proof of financial capacity is also required. Visas cannot be extended and tourist visas cannot be converted into student visas.

    Student visas don’t automatically include permission to work, though students from the EEA (plus Switzerland) are allowed to work freely.  

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