France: French Language and Culinary Traditions

Advance your French language skills and learn the art of French cooking on this summer abroad program for high school students.

Embark on a culinary and linguistic journey through France on a high school summer abroad program. Explore multiple regions of the country known for their culinary specialties. Learn about French cheeses, sweets, and pastries. Take culinary classes at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon or the CFA Sainte Catherine in Le Mans. Engage with professional chefs, meet with farmers and producers, visit local markets, and learn how to cook local recipes such as macarons and nougat.

Further enhance your knowledge of French language during a week of formal language instruction. Put your language skills to use during the program’s homestay, which ranges from 12 to 15 days.

The program begins and ends in Paris, giving you time to explore France’s beautiful and historic capital. Together with your group, you will join local residents in a café for a morning croissant before navigating the streets of Paris to the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, or Louvre. Sample traditional baguettes, cheeses, and local specialties and enjoy a picnic on the Seine’s famous left bank or in one of the city’s many parks. Explore the Montmartre art district beneath the spires of Sacré-Coeur and dine at tiny cafés that serve regional specialties from across France.

Language Certificate: At the conclusion of this program, participants will earn a language certificate noting how many hours of language classes they completed.

Orientation: Paris, 2–4 days
Homestay: Montélimar or Pierrelatte,* 12–15 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels, manoir (manor)

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–4

Orientation in Paris

Students exploring Paris

  • Learn about the history and culture of France
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions
  • Explore diverse neighborhoods, navigate the metro, and sample French cuisine in street-side cafés
  • Visit famous sites and museums throughout the city
  • Practice your French language skills

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Days 5–19

Homestay

  • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a French family and community
  • Do activities with your host family
  • Explore your host community and the surrounding area

Thematic Focus

  • Attend intensive French language classes
  • Learn about regional food specialties and recipes

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Les Baux-de-Provence, Pierrelatte, Vannes, Saint Malo, Nantes, Blois

Days 20–27

Thematic Focus in Lyon

  • Explore Lyon
  • Take cooking classes at the Institut Paul Bocuse
  • Meet with professional chefs as well as farmers
  • Learn about French cuisine, cheese, and patisserie
  • Learn cooking techniques and make French dishes
  • Dine on the food you have prepared
  • Graduate from the cooking institute in a special ceremony

During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Day 28

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Paris

  • Enjoy a final Parisian meal
  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Day 29

Departure

These are leader bios from summer 2014.

Mark Anthony Arceño

Mark ArcenoPhilippine-born and Metro-Detroit-raised, Mark Anthony Arceño graduated from Albion College in 2010 with a BA in French and international studies and concentrations in ethnic studies and public policy and service. He studied and conducted independent research throughout South Africa with SIT Study Abroad's Cape Town: Multiculturalism and Social Change program and studied in Paris and interned in Fontenay-sous-Bois Cedex. Additionally, Mark Anthony's undergraduate coursework brought him to Noisy-le-Roi, France, New Orleans, and Québec. He has been studying French for the past 16 years, and 2014 marked his third summer leading an Experiment program to France.

Currently, Mark Anthony is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at The Ohio State University, and he authors a food and culture blog based on the notion of “learning through food.” His principal research focus is the intersection of food, place, and identity, with an emphasis on local/regional French gastronomies and cultures. Prior to OSU, Mark Anthony was the program coordinator in the Office of Multi-Cultural Student Affairs at Denison University. Mark Anthony also enjoys movies, photography, and tennis.

Rajai Bimbo

Rajai BimboA native of Birmingham, Alabama, Rajai Bimbo graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, in 2004 with a BA in anthropology and sociology. While at DePauw, Rajai studied abroad in Paris, France, and in Bamako, Mali. In 2004, Rajai joined the United States Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, where he served two years as a community health agent and teaching assistant at a school for children with disabilities. Later, he returned to Greencastle in the position of study abroad advisor, where he spent four years advising hundreds of students for long- and short-term experiences abroad. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in language education in France. In his free time, Rajai enjoys unicycling, contemporary dance, sign language, and theatre.

Lauren Hull

lauren hullA graduate of Wake Forest University, Lauren Hull majored in economics with a focus in international development and a second major in French. After four years in North Carolina, she received her BA in the spring of 2013, and she set off for France to teach English as a foreign language. Originally from the plains of the Midwest in St. Louis, Missouri, Lauren developed a desire to travel from a young age. She has lived and learned in Europe and Africa, specifically in France and in Cameroon, where she studied abroad with SIT. A former camp counselor, Lauren enjoys all outdoor activities including hiking, climbing, and especially running.

Kelly O’Brien

Kelly OBrienBorn and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, Kelly O'Brien graduated from Fordham University in 2013 with a BA in American studies and minors in French and philosophy. Following graduation, she went to Montréal, Canada, on a Fulbright research grant to study the transnational subculture of graffiti and street art. Kelly is an alumnus of the SIT Study Abroad Language, Community, and Social Change program in Toulouse, France. She has also lived in Connemara, Ireland, as part of Fulbright Ireland's Summer Gaeltacht Award program and traveled in Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, and the Czech Republic. A current resident of Chicago, Kelly now divides her time between tutoring high school students and working at the University of Chicago. When she's not interviewing graffiti artists or learning a language, Kelly loves scouting out new and local cuisine, going to the theater, riding her bike, and photographing the world around her.

Taylor Saia

Taylor saiaBorn and raised outside of Philadelphia, "The City of Brotherly Love," Taylor Saia grew up in a loving, rambunctious family of seven. He graduated magna cum laude from American University in Washington, DC, in 2013 with a BS in business administration and French. Recently, he completed a Fulbright in Indonesia, where he served as a cultural ambassador on behalf of the US Department of State and taught high school English. He has previously instructed ESL in France and math in Washington, DC; has interned at National Geographic; and has led a fabulous Experiment in International Living program in France that focused on French cooking and culinary traditions. Currently, Taylor lives in New York City and works as a market researcher where he spends his days analyzing social media data, making pretty charts, and discovering some of the craziest hashtags you've ever seen. Whether in a recreational or professional context, his experiences in international education and integrated communications have bolstered his passion for listening to people and making meaningful impacts on their lives. 

Taylor first became fascinated by the art of travel after a trip to France in high school, which inspired him to return to the French Riviera to live and teach for a year. His excitement for exploration and foreign cultures has since propelled him to journey widely through Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition to his enthusiasm for international adventure and service, Taylor enjoys singing, playing ukulele, and people-watching on the New York subway.

Nancy Strom

Nancy StromA two-time Experiment leader to France, Nancy has a rich teaching and traveling background. After college, Nancy spent three years in Paris living with a host family, studying French and art history. She then studied in Germany, lived briefly in Spain, was a student-teacher in Mexico, volunteered in Guatemala, and, many summers, returned to Paris to teach. With her experience studying languages and living in other cultures, and a master’s in language education from SIT Graduate Institute, Nancy has committed her career to helping her adult ESL students with English and cultural competency skills, coordinating college-level ESL programs and teaching literacy classes.

In addition to her teaching career, Nancy’s lifelong passion has been to research Paris, study art, and spend time in Paris museums. She enjoys cooking, especially French, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese cuisines, and she assists in professional cooking classes. Nancy is married, has two children (ages 18 and 21), and lives in Seattle.

My parents have a tight leash on me and I had never been this independent and out of my comfort zone. I knew this going into the process but forced myself to swallow the thought whenever it popped up into my head. We landed in Paris and spent the day running around the city. I’m not quite sure if it was the adrenaline, terror, or French pastries that kept us going. At dinner, we felt comfortable enough with each other, or just did not care, and some people fell asleep in their dinner! By the next night, we felt as if we had known each other all of our lives and were already bonded as a group. We marched in circles and up and down stairs to find a side street café in Monmartre and missed the cutoff to the Eiffel Tower twice, but managed to make the metro by sprinting. Chatelet, the main metro center, was our home and we could do the metro in our sleep. There is something empowering about coming home and being able to say that I rocked the metro at night in Paris all on my own …

Haley Stutts, The Westminster Schools

The language classes were so very different from what I was accustomed to at home. At home, we learn vocabulary and grammar that is of course important, but not as useful in France. In these language classes, we went over the phrases and words that we would need to function in a French family, but are not normally in a textbook. This really prepared me to live in the home stay. I discovered so many types of cheeses that I had never before heard about. My favorite activity of Saint Rome de Dolan was canoeing in Les Gorges du Tarn, an incredibly beautiful canyon near Saint Rome de Dolan. It was definitely the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Traveling through the crystal-clear water at the bottom of gigantic cliffs was simply breathtaking. The only thing I regret was not having a waterproof camera with me so that I could have taken pictures! This time in Saint Rome de Dolan prepared us perfectly to speak French constantly during out upcoming homestay.

Christina Urban, Convent of the Sacred Heart