About Study Abroad in Montpellier, France
Live and study in Montpellier, one of France’s fastest growing cities and an emerging cultural and educational center. Within easy reach of both mountains and the Mediterranean, and home to 100,000 university students, Montpellier is a young, vibrant city with a centuries-old history of intellectual advances and social tolerance. It is the ideal place for an introduction to French language and culture.
Based at the Paul Valéry University, the liberal arts division of the University of Montpellier, this program also provides access to the highly regarded medical, engineering and law departments through an extremely flexible course structure. Choose from a mix of special courses with US and foreign students and regular University of Montpellier courses with French students.
Housing & Meals
Live with a French host family, in a traditional French apartment, the Observatoire student residence or in a dormitory.
If you have special dietary needs or severe allergies to cats or dogs, we strongly encourage you to select the traditional apartment, Observatoire or dormitory option. In some instances, host families cannot accommodate special dietary needs and many families in France have dogs or cats.
Intensive French Summer students have a choice between living in the dorm or a homestay. Students on the Advanced French Summer Program begin with a 2-week homestay, and then have the choice of either continuing with the homestay or moving to the university dormitories.
Homestays provide a vital connection to the local culture and social life, as well as the opportunity to experience daily life of the French. Host families provide breakfast and dinner during the week and all meals on the weekend. Housing is not provided during program breaks unless specifically arranged. Host families are usually located in the suburbs, approximately 45 minutes by bus, tram and foot from the city center and from campus.
If you wish to maximize your linguistic development through regular family contact and are willing to adapt to a French family's lifestyle and schedule, this housing option may appeal to you. The level of integration you experiences with your host family may vary—some families will go to great lengths to make you feel like part of the family while others may have a more independent approach. If you are concerned about adjusting to a host family, one of the other housing options may be a better fit.
Traditional French Apartment
Live with other program participants in apartments, usually located in town and approximately 30 to 45 minutes by foot and tram from the University and downtown Montpellier. You will share the apartment with two to four other students from the program, often with two people (of the same gender) sharing a room. The program fee for this option does not include meals, utilities or the apartment deposit. See the Fees information for additional costs. If you have special dietary needs and/or intend to have an active social life with frequent evenings out, this is a good option for you.
The Observatoire is a student residence with basic studio rooms with a small private bathroom and basic kitchenette. The rooms are very spartan, but are furnished with a single bed and a desk. TheObservatoire is located in downtown Montpellier. You will have a commute of about 30 to 45 minutes by foot and/or tram to the University. This housing option does not include meals. Utilities are included in the program fee; however, there is an additional $500 apartment deposit.
If you are independent and interested in living in the city center, the Observatoire may be a good fit for you. However, many students find the studios spartan and uninviting. If you choose this option, be prepared for this reality. You should also be aware that there is typically little social interaction among residents, so this is not a good option if you are seeking a social community. If you are placed in this option, it is difficult to change your placement if you are dissatisfied with the placement once you arrive onsite, and you may be liable for the cost of the studio for the duration of the semester, so please think carefully before making your choice.
The university dormitory is conveniently located near the Paul Valéry campus. You will have a single room, and there is a cafeteria but no cooking facilities. Bathrooms are co-ed and located on each floor. The program fee for this option does not include meals.
Dormitories in France are typically reserved for financially-needy international graduate students, and there is little social life, unlike dorms in the US. The Study Abroad in Montpellier program has only two dormitory rooms per semester, and these are reserved for students with significant financial need. If you are extremely independent and have significant financial need, the dormitory may be a good fit for you. It is not a good option if you are seeking a social community.
During the summer, however, the dormitory is inhabited by US and international students participating in the language programs at the Institute for Foreign Students, and therefore is more active socially than during the academic year.
For more help deciding between the housing options, consult the Housing Comparison Chart (pdf).
Excursions & Social Activities
Three excursions are included each term to introduce you to the unique character of southern France. In addition, the program’s social and administrative assistants organize activities to familiarize you with the city and provide you with opportunities to meet French students. Optional longer trips at an extra cost may also be organized by the program. Past trips have included skiing in the Alps and a trip to Morocco.
You can also participate in local clubs that offer activities such as skiing, hiking and photography. A two-week break in December, a two-week break in the spring and travel before or after the program are excellent opportunities to explore France.
- Strengthen French linguistic skills
- Deepen crosscultural understanding through interaction with local students, host families, and community members
- Gain French, European, and international perspectives on academic disciplines
- Increase independence and self-reliance by learning to navigate French society
Faculty & Staff
Françoise Defrecheux-Chaton is the on-site director. She and her staff provide housing arrangements, an in-country orientation, academic advising and on-going support during the program. She has coordinated this program for many years and has taught at US and French institutions. A team of additional on-site staff provide support to participants and organize a variety of cultural activities.