France: French Culture and Regional Identity

Explore Paris and a French border community, and then spend time in a neighboring country during a summer abroad.

Travel from Paris to a French border community and then to a neighboring country as you explore regional cultures and identities. This high school summer abroad program commences with an immersive introduction to French history and culture in Paris. Visit famous sites and museums throughout the city, such as the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, or Louvre. Explore diverse neighborhoods, navigate the metro, and sample French cuisine in street-side cafés as you deepen your understanding of Parisian culture and the city’s role within France.

Following orientation, you will travel with your group to a community in southern France near the Italian border, to a French community near the German border, or to a community near the Spanish border. Become fully immersed in the daily life of a French family during a 10-day homestay. Take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the homestay to learn some French and to gain a unique glimpse into French life and culture.

After saying goodbye to your host family, cross the French border with your group into either Italy, Germany, or Spain to explore the landscapes and culture of a French neighbor. Whether you’re strolling through picturesque villages in Alsace, exploring the French Riviera, or visiting beautiful Cinque Terre or Barcelona on the Mediterranean, you’ll gain deeper insight into the diversity of France and the culture of an adjacent country.

Orientation: Paris, 2–4 days
Homestay: Saint-Raphaël, Nîmes, or Nice (near the Italian border); Saint-Dié-des-Vosges or Nancy (near the German border); or Castres (near the Spanish border),* 10 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–4

Orientation in Paris

  • Learn about the history and culture of FranceStudents exploring Paris
  • 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

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

Days 5–15


  • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a French family and community
  • Do activities with your host family
  • Explore your host communities and the surrounding area
  • Visit surrounding villages and beaches
  • Get introduced to the culture of the French Riviera

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Nîmes, Nice, Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, Nancy, Saint-Raphaël, Castres

Days 16–20

Thematic Focus in One of Three Locations

Italy and the French Riviera (5-night excursion)

  • Hike through villages and vineyards perched above the Mediterranean
  • Go on a daylong excursion by boat to the Cinque Terre and see towns built on terraces overlooking the sea
  • Enjoy the beautiful Italian coast and relax on the beach in Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino
  • Go on a daylong excursion by train to the small country of Monaco and enjoy the city and the beach
  • Visit Menton and see the Jean Cocteau Museum

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


Germany and Alsace (5-night excursion)

  • Take a guided tour of Freiburg
  • Explore picturesque German villages in the region surrounding Freiburg
  • Go on an excursion to Titisee-Neustadt
  • Have a picnic in the Black Forest
  • Visit the city of Colmar and attend an open air movie at Natala Park, visit the Bartholdi Museum, bike through vineyards, and explore the city’s “La Petite Venise” district


Spain and the Pyrenees (5-night excursion)

  • Visit Barcelona, the capital city of Spanish Catalonia, and explore La Rambla, the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Gaudí and Picasso museums
  • Take an excursion to Gerona or Figueres
  • Explore Perpignan, the Pyrénées-Orientales department’s capital city, located in southern France on the Mediterranean Sea
  • Visit the old village of Vernet les Bains at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains

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

Day 21

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 22


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.

Emilie Clark

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Emilie is currently living in The Big Apple, where she works with Girl Be Heard, an NGO that uses theater to empower young women to be active agents of social change. Emilie lived abroad in France during her junior year of high school, where her love for travel kicked in full force. Emilie has a BA from Long Island University (LIU) Global in global studies, with a concentration in gender studies and youth engagement and minors in political science and Latin American studies. Throughout her education, Emilie has lived, traveled, studied, and volunteered in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, India, and Morocco. She has also traveled through China, Nepal, Hungary, the Czech Republic, England, and Ireland. During her undergraduate education, Emilie conducted independent research on the topics of arts activism, women's rights, Islamic feminism, community development, and youth empowerment. She is an extremely passionate social justice advocate and life enthusiast who believes that study abroad can be one of the most meaningful and transformative experiences a student can have. Emilie loves adventure, the great outdoors, city streets, and finding beauty wherever she goes!

Chrissie Faupel

Chrissie Faupel is a native of Auburn, Alabama (she can only do the accent upon request), and received a BA from the University of South Carolina in French and international studies. During her time as an undergraduate, she studied for a year in California with the National Student Exchange and for a summer in Tours, France, as a Watson Scholar. She taught English as a Foreign Language in Mexico, South Korea, and Thailand; settled for a while in the US to teach for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (when not teaching inmates, she moonlighted as an assistant to Sparkles the Clown); then moved to Senegal for two years with the Peace Corps as a preventive health educator. In fall 2014, Chrissie moved to Vermont to begin a master’s in international education at SIT Graduate Institute.

Aly Galef

Aly Galef is a native of Mount Kisco, New York. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2013 with a BA in history and a concentration in the Middle East and Africa. In addition to being a French speaker, Aly has studied Arabic for several years, with a focus on the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. As a part of her undergraduate experience, she studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco, with SIT, and spent a summer studying in Aix-en-Provence, France. After college, Aly spent a year working at a human development NGO based in Morocco. She is currently pursuing a master's in green management, energy, and corporate social responsibility at Bocconi University in Italy. Aly has led Experiment programs in both Morocco and France, and in her free time she enjoys dancing, rowing, and cooking.

Julie Yen

Julie Yen is a native of Concord, Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and a language citation in German. In high school, Julie learned French, her first foreign language, and traveled abroad as an exchange student to live with a host family near Versailles. During college, she studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany, and traveled throughout Europe, studying European history, politics, cultures, and societies. She also interned at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, volunteered as a tutor to low-income students, and sang in a choir. In fall 2014, Julie began working in arts administration and dance education at the José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Julie is a lifelong ballet dancer, she loves to bake, and she is passionate about language learning and cultural exchange.

Cooking was originally my mom’s idea, saying it will be a great way to introduce them to Filipino culture.  So the last weekend of our stay, I asked my host mom to bring me to the Asian supermarket to buy ingredients for Tinola, a Filipino dish consisting of chicken cooked in ginger and fish sauce with green papaya.  My host mom and sister watched and listed the recipe and instructions as I cooked.  The smell emanating from the pot eventually brought my host dad to the kitchen too.  When it was done and I let them try it, all I heard was “J’ADORE!”  They loved it, to the point that they all had clean plates and an almost cleaned pot.  It was a priceless experience.  I never could have imagined eating home-cooked Filipino food in the middle of the French Riviera with a very French host family.  I think this is one of the reasons they bought me a French cookbook as a farewell present, so that I can keep cooking.

Amiel Leano, Westmoor High School