A group of students in Montpellier, France

Consuming French Culture & Cuisine

  1. Program Details

    Examine the relationship between food and culture in the context of France, a country well-known for its commitment to food.

    Location Montpellier & Paris, France
    Term May Session
    Housing Apartment, Hotel
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA No Requirement
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
    Language No Language Prerequisite
  2. About Consuming French Culture & Cuisine

    French philosopher of gastronomy Brillat-Savarin wrote famously in his Physiology of Taste: “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” While this is a truism that could pertain to any individual and any society, France—and the French—have a cultural identity that is especially signified through food, from the cuisine gastronomique to the humble baguette. It’s no surprise that French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s The Raw and the Cooked proposes a system for studying cultures expressed in culinary terms. The symbolic equivalence between food and cultural identity has long been perpetuated in political, economic, and scholarly discourses as well as in literature and film. The bigger-than-life appetites of the hero of Rabelais’s Gargantua link the ingestion and digestion of vast quantities of food to the production and consumption of knowledge in the new age of humanism sweeping through France during the Renaissance. In modern times, a much celebrated scene in Proust’s Swann’s Way made a simple tea cake (madeleine) synonymous with the narrator’s childhood memories and, in the broader spectrum, cultural memories. Dining scenes are often a feature of French films, reflecting the importance of social rituals surrounding the preparing and eating of food and the communities that form or are affirmed through them.

    Course Description

    The purpose of this course is to examine the relationship of food to culture in a place where food is a privileged cultural medium—one could say almost a national pastime. In an average French household, the time spent acquiring fresh ingredients, preparing meals, and consuming them far outpaces that spent by American families in the same activities. Food and its manner of consumption can tell us much about gender, family, class and ethnic differences as well as and the principles of sociability and conviviality attending the French meal; it can also reveal how national and regional identities evolve, as new foods, languages and cultural practices are assimilated.

    Course readings will draw on a variety of disciplinary perspectives on the theme of the place of food, from cultural anthropology to history, to sociology, to cultural studies and gastronomy as well as to literature and film. Discussion and written assignments are intended to invite students to understand the cultural specificity of the French while reflecting critically on the differences in the role food plays in our own culture.

    Housing & Meals

    You will live in shared housing with other program participants. Welcome and farewell meals, and some other additional meals, are included in the program fee. Additional meals can be prepared in the housing or taken at local eateries.


    We will visit a number of locations where food is produced and consumed:

    • Arceaux Market
    • Domaine Haut-Lirou winery in the Pic Saint-Loup region
    • Aigues Mortes
    • Salins du Midi, the most important salt producer in France
    • Roquefort (the cheese) caves
    • Medieval village of La Couvertoirade
    • St. Etienne
    • Hiking the Cévennes
    • Stay in a mountain cottage in the Cévennes
    • Mediterranean sea
    • Visit an oyster park by boat
    • The port city of Sète


    All program participants will take the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight; you will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center about your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed.


    Learning Outcomes

    • Develop independence by challenging yourself in a new environment
    • Function as an effective team member by utilizing your personal strengths in a group setting
    • Explore a specific topic through experiential and interdisciplinary approaches

    Faculty & Staff

    Trina Whitaker is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in French within the College of Liberal Arts who has been teaching French language and culture for over 25 years.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  3. Program Structure

    Program Type Field Study, Study Abroad Center, Instructor-Led
    Program Level 3000-level coursework

    One 3-credit course

    Global Seminars are 3-week study abroad programs led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff that feature:

    • Intensive learning in a location that illuminates the topic
    • Small groups of 15–25 students
    • No prerequisites or language requirements
    • Included excursions and cultural activities
    • Instruction in English


    Coursework for this program will include a mix of journal assignments and papers.

    Receive credit for: FREN 3650 (elective for French major or minor) or FREN 3750 (non French major or minor)

    Liberal Education fulfillment: Global Perspectives

  4. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Term Program Dates Priority Application Deadline* Final Application Deadline
    May Session 2021 May 14 – Jun 5, 2021 February 1, 2021 March 1, 2021

    Program dates are subject to change.

    If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

    Important Note: Enrollment on this program is limited to 16 students. Admission is granted on a rolling basis and applications are reviewed in the order they are completed. Some programs may fill to capacity prior to the application deadline, therefore applying early is recommended. Additionally, applying early will allow for more time to plan ahead and prepare for the program.

    Orientation Dates & Locations

    Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

    See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

    Term Abroad Date/Time Location
    May Session 2021 TBD TBD
  5. Fees for Consuming French Culture & Cuisine

    May Session 2021 Cost of Participation forthcoming

    Program fees can vary widely due to location, cost of living, airfare, and program inclusions. The program fee generally includes tuition, group flight airfare, program administration, housing, some meals, international health insurance, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, and local transportation. Generally, our program fees range between $6,300–$7,000. You must also budget for passport and passport photos, most meals, textbooks, independent travel, and miscellaneous living expenses.

    Cost of Participation

    If you do not see a cost of participation for the term you intend to go abroad, the fee has not yet been finalized. We strive to post fees for this program at least 30 days prior to the application deadline. The Learning Abroad Center will delay the posting of some fees until enrollments, inflation, and exchange rates are determined. Note the average increase in fees will be 3–10%. Program fees are based on estimates and may change depending on international economic factors.

    Fees or tuition from home institutions may be added to or differ from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center fees listed on this page.


    All students are encouraged to apply for financial aid and scholarships.

    Billing & Payments

    Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

    Financial Aid & Scholarships

    Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

    Bridging Loan

    Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

    Cancellation Policy

    Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
  6. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term May Session 2021
    Program Name Global Seminar: Consuming French Culture & Cuisine
    Track Name Consuming French Culture & Cuisine
    Country France


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.


    After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

    • Application Essay

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

    Next Steps

    After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.
  7. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Amy Garwood-Diaz or call at 612.624.1537.

Passport Information

If you do not currently have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months past your return date, or are still needing to apply for a new one, start the process as soon as possible. Visit the UofM Passport Office website for more information.

Virtual Info Session

Learn more about this program and other Learning Abroad Center May & summer seminars through this virtual info session.

Tuesday, December 15th 2:30–3:30p.m.

More info & registration