France is one of the top nations today with a strategic influence in the world. It is a political giant as a member of the EU, the UN Security Council, NATO, and the G8. The French economy is fuelled by key activities vital to society today – social work and education, retail, and industry, while also focusing on future-looking segments such as aeronautics, IT, and pharmaceuticals. Its prime location also makes for easy trading with fellow powerhouses in the region.

However, few nations exert such a cultural influence such as France. The country is home to some of the greatest enlightened thinkers of all time such as Descartes, Voltaire, and Camus, and also the birthplace of legendary artists such as Monet, Matisse, and Renoir. Their influence continues to permeate modern-day society through a plethora of museums and old-school architecture throughout the country. For the modern-day arts, France has been deemed a fashion capital as well, housing fashion giants such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior.

France cannot be mentioned without bringing up its high regard for food. The French love to eat and have an appreciation for fine food. Trying French cuisine will never be the same experience – each restaurant will make its version of the fine classics. France is also known as a wine country – its chateaus and wine vineyards are the gold standards for winemakers. Where other countries have day tours, France offers exclusive wine tours for visitors to get to the heart of winemaking.

There are too many ways to describe France – it is both a powerful political city, but also one with a soft side as a destination of arts and culture. Safe to say that taking further studies in this country will give students a well-rounded global perspective that will equip them for the future. Read on the find out the top French cities for international students:

Top Cities to Study in France

1. Paris

Paris would easily top the list of destinations for international students who wish to study in France. The city is not only the capital and the largest city in France, it also wields the largest influence on the fields of art, architecture, and science – not just in France, but in the entire world. This world-renowned city features various monuments which will delight the average traveler – from the iconic Eiffel Tower to the Palace of Versailles. Paris’s Champs-Élysées street covers the best luxury brands for those that love to shop, and a multitude of Parisian cafes and patisseries line the streets for anyone looking for an authentic French cafe experience.

Paris is also known as the City of Light not only for the inspiration it offers in culture but also for its great intellectual contributions during the Enlightenment period. This sentiment remains true today as Paris continues to develop its center of excellence in education. Universities in the city specialize in courses ranging from business to the arts, in key institutions such as:

  • Université PSL
  • Institut Polytechnique de Paris
  • Sorbonne University
  • Université Paris-Saclay
  • Université de Paris

2. Lyon

On the other side of France, Lyon carves its stronghold. Located in the Southeastern portion of France, this city is the third-largest in the entire country and an economic giant in its own right since the time of the Renaissance. With a long-standing priority on education, the city grew as a university town of sorts, becoming a key educational hub outside of Paris.

Lyon is among the best cities to study for international students in France as it has its cultural specialties, namely in the area of film and cinematography. Schools of art and design flourished here and became the most popular art schools in the country. For foodies at heart, Lyon is a great place to explore culinary delights as the city is coined as the gastronomic capital of the world. Restaurants here pop up left and right, offering unique global concepts at affordable prices. It is also in a perfect spot to sample local wines from its nearby neighbors Burgundy and Côtes du Rhône. Students will surely be filled to the brim with quality education, food, and experience in Lyon.

  • Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon
  • Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon
  • Université de Lyon

3. Toulouse

Another excellent city in the South of France, Toulouse keeps its charming, small-town identity while developing modern pursuits. The city is also known as “Pink City” as this is the color of most buildings in the city – creating a poetic, old-town vibe where art, history, and culture intersect. Taking a walk through the cobbled streets of Toulouse is like walking back in time. The amazing preservation of its original cityscape earned the city some UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin.

However, there is nothing small-town about the influence Toulouse has on France and the world. Toulouse is known for its focus on the aerospace industry, housing the European headquarters of Airbus, Intel, and the Toulouse Space Center – the biggest in Europe. Its universities specialize in the fields of social sciences and technology.

  • University of Toulouse
  • Paul Sabatier University
  • Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées
  • National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse

4. Nice

Functioning as the Southeastern hub of France, Nice is a Mediterranean seaport city with a tropical personality. A standout from the rest of France with its warmer climate, Nice is the leading resort city of the French Riviera. Its beautiful coastline dotted with pristine beaches is frequented by tourists locally and abroad.

As the border city between France and Italy – and also having been Italian before the year 1860 – the city is an excellent fusion of French and Italian culture, evident in its food, language, and people. The city is also a key destination for art lovers, housing the most museums after Paris and featuring Baroque architectural wonders.

Nice is one of the top destinations for international students who want to study in France and it is also a vibrant destination for festivals all year round. Enjoy the Carnival of Nice every February to March, and indulge in the birthplace of jazz through jazz music parties lining the streets. Enjoy all these and more with a study in any of these Nice universities:

  • University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis
  • Université Côte d’Azur



We hope that this article on Best Cities to Study in France was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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