France: Painting and Photography in Paris and Provence

Develop your creative talents while experiencing France's artistic sites and heritage on this summer abroad program for high school students.

Embark on a creative exploration of French art and culture, from the “City of Light” to the French countryside, on this high school summer abroad program in France. Visit galleries and world-renowned museums—such as the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre—and attend drawing, painting, andphotography sessions under the guidance of a French artist. Visit photo exhibits in the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, set up a photo shoot in Pere Lachaise or the Belleville Market, and explore Paris’s arrondissements with a French photojournalist. Trace the footsteps of famous artists who have been inspired by the region of Provence, including Cézanne and Van Gogh. Learn the art of Provençal watercolor, and fill a canvas with your own impressions of Provence’s landscapes and extraordinary beauty.

During your homestay period in Les Baux-de-Provence, you will meet with local artists and craftsmen, participate in a pottery workshop, and enjoy regional food while becoming fully immersed in the daily life of a French family and community. Take day excursions with your host family or Experiment group to nearby cities of historical and artistic significance, such as Marseille, Avignon, and/or Arles. You’ll also create a carnet de voyage (travel book) with assistance from a French artist. As your artistic journey unfolds, take advantage of continuous opportunities to enhance your French language skills and knowledge of French culture.

Note: Participants should bring a working digital camera with them on the program. A drawing kit will be supplied once in France.

Orientation: Paris, 2–4 days
Homestay: Les Baux-de-Provence,* 13–15 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–4

Students exploring ParisOrientation in Paris

  • Learn about the history and culture of France
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions
  • Visit famous sites and museums throughout the city
  • Explore diverse neighborhoods, navigate the metro, and sample French cuisine in street-side cafés
  • Practice your French language skills
  • Meet your French art teacher, learn about famous French artists in guided museum tours, and take classes in painting and drawing

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

Days 5–9

Thematic Focus in Provence

  • Attend intensive drawing and photography classes, learn technique, increase your skills, and develop your creativity
  • Explore the Provence region, including places such as Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, and Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume
  • See lavender fields, medieval villages, and vistas that inspired Cézanne and Van Gogh
  • Participate in workshops with local artists
  • Visit museums and see famous works of art

During this period, you and your group will stay in hotels and hostels.

Days 10–23


  • 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

  • Practice your photography skills in your host community
  • Learn about regional differences in culture and art

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host community: Les Baux de Provence

Days 24–27

Thematic Focus in Paris

  • Explore Paris and the surrounding region with your art and photography teachers
  • Visit museums, cultural sites, and galleries such as Musée d'Orsay, Musée l’Orangerie, Pompidou Centre, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, and Monet’s house in Giverny
  • Meet with art and photography experts
  • Learn how to develop photographs in a laboratory
  • Exhibit your art and photography project

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

Day 28

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Paris

  • 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


Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

These are leader bios from summer 2014.

Camille Inge

Camille IngeCamille was raised in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, and in May 2014 she received her BA in linguistics from Barnard College at Columbia University. Camille spent the spring of 2013 studying Tibetan and Himalayan culture in Nepal, Bhutan, and India through SIT Study Abroad, where she researched linguistic human rights in the Tibetan diaspora. During her semester abroad, she also volunteered at an NGO, The Tibet Hope Center, as an English conversation guide. Within linguistics, Camille has loved studying French phonetics, the morphology of Swahili, and the semantic relationship between Tibetan and Buddhism. She spent her non-academic time in college leading and arranging music for Barnard's all-female a cappella group and working as a community habilitation worker for a company that provides services for disabled youth. Before that, she spent time volunteering as an ESL teacher, traveling throughout France and Greece, kicking soccer balls, and inventing her own smoothies while working as a barista. Camille currently works as a researcher and program manager at the NeuroLeadership Institute in New York.

Sarah Heck

A two-time Experiment leader to France, Sarah Heck developed a love for traveling and experiencing different cultures while growing up in Europe. With a German father and an American mother, she was exposed to multiple cultures at an early age. While studying at the University of Washington, she spent a year in Paris through a direct exchange at Sciences Po. Upon her return to Seattle, she interned at the French-American Chamber of Commerce and the World Affairs Council. After graduating with a BA in international studies and French, she spent her summer traveling through India, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In her free time, Sarah enjoys watching foreign films, going to art expositions, biking, photography, scuba-diving, and exploring different countries and cultures. In fall 2014, Sarah moved to Réunion, off the coast of Madagascar, where she serves as a teaching assistant through the French Ministry of Education.

It is strange how I transformed more in the course of five weeks than my lifespan of sixteen years; it goes to show how much awaits us all abroad. Honestly, I feel more experiment-sick than homesick! Life is filled with surprises, and with curiosity anyone can discover the next best thing… I still cannot fathom how amazing this summer voyage was, and I can’t wait to go back to France, and revisit all the places I’ve seen and friends I’ve made!

Roxy Moinzadeh, Santa Monica High School

I loved my homestay experience! We were matched up perfectly and couldn’t ask for a better family. We were constantly outside the house; may it be going to the many beaches or having a 3 day hike on the Pyrenees Mountains which was fantastic! Although we may have not understood each other 100% of the time, the relationship was strong and they made me feel as part of the family and never left me out of their own family discussions. It felt as if I was at a home away from home. As for what I have learned, I was able to appreciate how close family bonding can really have an impact on the entire family in a positive way and I am glad I was [able] to be there with them.

Armando Nuno, San Lorenzo High School