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France for 3 months

I have this golden opportunity to stay in France for about 3 months.

I’ve been toying with the idea of either spending it all in one region, and taking French classes, or breaking it up into 3 parts, and still taking French classes.

Thought about Alsace (Strasbourg) for two reasons. Easy access to Germany/Switzerland. And perhaps easier to find language classes in this city.

Next place I thought of was Lyon.

Third might be Rouen.

But I’m open to other areas, providing I can study French.

The plan is beginning of April to end of June.

If you’ve studied French in France, or spent long periods in an area and loved it, please share. Any advice or suggestions are appreciated.

Posted by
3056 posts

My big opportunity was at the end of 2018. Improved my French at the intensive language school in Villefranche-sur-Mer, next door to Nice, on the Mediteranean coast. Stayed in an apartment in Nice, and commuted daily via a short bus ride to/from Villefranche. Many fellow classmates stayed in the school’s accommodations in Villefranche for an additional charge. Classes were Mon-Fri, 4-week session. If space available and your finances allow, a second 4-week session could be arranged. I went to Lyon one weekend to see the holiday lights, so free time was available, too. Lots to see and do in and around the Nice area!

Had a little time in Italy before the classes started. Really good experience, and a good time to be in Nice. April thru June would be before the summer heat and crowds fully arrive.

Posted by
23250 posts

Just to make you aware of the problems with 3 months. If you are from a country which has agreements with the EU for Schengen 90/180 visa-free travel (including the US, Canada, Australia, NZ) your limit will be a maximum of 90 days, including arrival and departure days, and overstayers are dealt with strictly. 90 days is a bit less than 3 months. There have been reports here of people missing by one day and getting a large fine and not allowed to return for several years. It is good advice not to take your plans right up to the max because if you have a flight delay or get sick or any of several other contingencies which cause you to run over by a little that could be big trouble.

On the other hand, if you knew about the 90/180 Schengen issue, never mind.

I hope you have a great trip and you can speak French fluently at the end.....

Posted by
16576 posts

When you count your Schengen days, you must include both the day you arrive and the day you leave.

I think Strasbourg, Lyon and Rouen would all be lovely places to stay put for a month. I don't travel north of the Alps in April, so I haven't researched the weather conditions at that time of year. I assume Lyon might be a bit warmer and Rouen cooler and damper, so I'd try to start in Lyon and end in Rouen.

From my own experience in taking language lessons, I'd day it's advantageous to have morning rather than afternoon sessions if you want to do some local or nearby sightseeing on school days. If you have to show up in class at 1 PM, it's not easy to get much sightseeing accomplished beforehand; so many sights do not open until 10 AM.

As a general rule, language schools tend to close on public holidays, and you get no reduction in your fees if you miss a day of classes for that reason. Check on public holidays during the period you are considering. I know Labor Day (May 1) is a very big deal in France. I think there is at least one other holiday in May.

Posted by
5695 posts

When we were considering this, we looked at the school in Villefranche sur Mer and it is both a beautiful area with good access by train up and down the Riviera but had good reviews for language learning.

I'd want a month in Paris.

And as someone else noted -- you don't get quite 3 mos, but 90 days if you don't have an EU passport.

Posted by
3056 posts

I won’t lecture you about the Schengen zone. My main purpose in a 3 month trip was to improve my French. After exhaustive research into schools in Paris, Lyon, and Nice, I found Le Institut de Francais in Villefranche. I was looking for immersive and intensive instruction. It was 8 hours a day for 4 weeks. I had some homework every night & didn’t have much time to sightsee, but I lived my everyday life speaking French only. Weekends were time to sightsee, and Nice is well located to see much of Southern France & nearby towns in Italy.

I think the type of school and location depends on your purpose for the trip. If you want immersion, I can’t recommend Le Institut enough. If you want a more casual approach, I found good programs in most of the larger cities. I love Lyon because it has so much culture & gastronomy. I have spent several summers there. I ruled out Paris early on in my search because of apartment costs and logistics. Also, I didn’t think I could operate only in French in Paris. I do love Strasbourg and was just there a couple of months ago, but it really is pretty small for a long term stay.
Happy travels. Bon voyage!

Posted by
100 posts

I'll be there the same period of time for three months. Perhaps we could have coffee or dinner if we can connect. I'll be moving about the country not stationary. How exciting!!!! Enjoy.

Posted by
449 posts

Thanks for all the tips and responses.

Yes, I know that 90 days isn’t quite 3 months, but it’s just easier to say to people in the US. I had read up about that. And I can’t stay longer, so wouldn’t be able to apply for a student visa, unfortunately. If I could, I would stay forever!

I like the sound of the immersion program in Villefranche, but I’m a bit concerned about that area being too warm. I tend to do better in the cold. I will still look into the program.

None of the areas I mentioned, are set in mud. Still reading about others.

How about rentals for that period? I looked at Airbnb to get idea of prices. Also thought about not staying in a city, but in the suburbs and traveling to the City for schools.

Posted by
3304 posts

The one thing I will add here is that you can sometimes negotiate cheaper prices for Airbnb apartments for longer stays such as what you plan to do. Make sure to message the owner about a possible discount before booking anything...all they can say is "no"! I know quite a few people who do this when they are moving to France and establishing residency - otherwise it can get very expensive, very fast.

Posted by
100 posts

I will bein France during the same period of time traveling about, aren't we lucky. PM me if we are in the same place at the same time, perhaps we could meet for lunch or dinner. Enjoy your journey.

Posted by
744 posts

What a wonderful opportunity. I also attended one month in Villefranche sur mer at l’Institut de Français, 10 or more years ago. Loved it. I stayed in a studio appartement arranged through the school and enjoyed it. I have returned to visit the town a few times since for up to a week.

Paris is my favourite city, so a month there would be great.

So difficult to say where else? Maybe Loire with a car for a part of it to see chateaux. 1 night at Mont St Michel, then the Normandy area.

I hope this becomes true.


Posted by
846 posts

Rouen is a great choice. I spent a month there two years ago taking classes at their Alliance Française which is one of the best rated AF’s. I rented an airbnb on Place des Carmes and had one of the most amazing months of my life.

Posted by
5017 posts

The plan is beginning of April to end of June

Unfortunately, it seems there's virtually zero chance of this happening. Maybe April - June of 2021 if all goes well. MAYBE.

The best laid plans...

Posted by
115 posts

You do realize France (along with most of the western world ) is shutdown for the next month or so and there are numerous advisories saying do not travel?

I had booked my trip to Paris and Normandy for May/June but cancelled that last week

I would say you have zero chance of your travel plans coming off

Posted by
6683 posts

This is a ghost post from January. Ginger gave up her plans weeks ago.

Posted by
7109 posts

Ginger might consider deleting this thread...

Posted by
3056 posts

France isn’t going anywhere. it is going thru horrible upheaval, but there will be 3 months in the future, sometime. Stay well in the meantime, everyone, or hopefully get well. I realize this isn’t ghappening for everyone, but wonderful travel opportunities are one reason to look forward, while dealing with the present.