France Program, Academics | Earlham College

France Program


The France Program was founded in 1956 and provides students with in-depth and extended contact with France, its language and its culture. Students strengthen their linguistic skills while exploring diverse aspects of culture in three distinctive regions of France: Nantes, a leading city in the West; Béarn and Basque country; and Paris. Conducted exclusively in French, this program includes courses in history, theatre and cinema, politics, art and architecture, and culture and language. France as a crossroads within an expanding European Union and a post-colonial world will provide the backdrop for the students' learning experiences.

Program Locations

The France Program begins with an orientation in Nantes, France's seventh largest city, located near the mouth of the Loire River in Brittany. The program then moves to Salies de Béarn at the foot of the Pyrénées, where students complete a stage (apprenticeship) by living and working with local artisans in crafts such as chair caning, pottery, weaving and metals. The stage is followed by an independent travel period in which students are free to explore Europe on their own. The group reconvenes in Paris for the second half of the program. With its rich history and cultura offerings, the City of Lights is the most visited city in the world.

Excursions and Cultural Activities

In Nantes, students may visit Mont St. Michel, the Fine Arts Museum, and Celtic sites of Brittany. Being in Paris provides access to museums, restaurants and commerce. Students may join Sunday walks to places such as Père Lachaise cemetery, Montmartre, André Citroën Park, and the royal forest and castle of St. Germain en Laye. Students also have the opportunity to visit places such as the UNESCO offices and the Institute of the Arab World.

Living Arrangements

In Nantes and Paris, students live in private homes with families. Homestay arrangements enrich the language learning experience and provide insights into daily life in France. Many of the hosts in Nantes have hosted past program participants and have maintained special relationships with Earlham students over the years. During the stage in the Pyrénées, living arrangements vary according to apprenticeship, although most students live in the home of the artisan with whom they work.


Click here to apply online for the France Program.


Courses and Credits

Students will earn a total of 18 semester hour credits for successful completion of the program. All students will be full participants in all of the courses that are offered and all students will receive grades for each course. Twelve semester hours may be applied toward a major in French. Courses are taught in French by French faculty and the program leader. Descriptions for all program courses are below.

Throughout the program:

French Language and Society (4 hours):  This course focuses on developing conversational and functional grammar skills. In the different sites of the program, this course concentrates on specific themes and incorporates group activities. 

In Nantes:

History of France After the Revolution of 1789 (2 hours):  This course discusses the main events of French history from the 1848 Revolution to De Gaulle's 5th Republic, including the Second Empire. The course also provides necessary background for the Political Science course in Paris.

In Paris:

Art & Architecture of France (4 hours, fulfills Gen Ed requirements in Fine Arts - Theoretical):  This course covers various stages of French architecture and painting since the Renaissance period. The course includes lectures and required visits to monuments and museums, including Le Louvre and the Rosary Museum.

France in Europe and the World (4 hours):  This course entails a study of France within the institutions of the European Union and beyond, within other global institutions. Each week includes a lecture and time for students to review the press and to present their findings.

French Theatre and Immigrant Cinema (4 hours):  The French Theatre portion of this course focuses on the significance of theatre in France, and particularly in Paris. Students attend plays in diverse theatre settings, read and discuss these plays, present on a theatre experience of their choice, and write short papers. The Immigrant Cinema portion of the course explores ways in which immigrant and non-immigrant African filmmakers have recreated their understanding and experience of immigration through the medium of film. Students visit the major immigrant community areas such as Montreuil, Strasbourg/St. Denis, and Gare du Nord.

Pre-Departure Course and Post-Return Course

Students accepted to the France Program are required to participate in Cross-Cultural Explorations I (1 credit) prior to departure and Cross-Cultural Explorations II (1 credit) after they return. Pre-departure sessions are designed to prepare students for the cross-cultural experience and will include readings, activities, films, lectures, and discussions with former participants of the program. A weekend retreat is part of this course. Students and parents will receive a Handbook of important information prior to the program. Following return to campus, students will participate in a 7-week course that will guide them in processing, analyzing and building upon their off-campus experience. Credit for Cross-Cultural Explorations I is dependent upon successful completion of the semester program.

Academic Programs



The program cost will be the equivalent of one semester of Earlham College tuition, fees, room and board. The program covers academic and educational costs, including field excursions and other group activities as well as room and board while on the academic portion of the program. A deposit of $350 is required after acceptance to the program, which is part of the total cost. Students on financial aid may apply their aid to one Earlham or Earlham-approved off-campus program during their college career.

Additional Costs

Each student should plan for additional money to cover round-trip airfare, passport and visa expenses, books, personal expenses, and costs for the independent travel period. A passport and visa is required for travel to France.


Students are responsible for arranging flights to and from France. Information on travel options will be provided during orientation.


Undergraduate students of all academic backgrounds and majors in good standing with the college may apply. Students on academic or disciplinary probation are not eligible to apply or participate. Students must have completed French 120 or one course at the 200 or 300 level at Earlham by the beginning of the program. Majors from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Final selection of participants will be made by a student and faculty committee. 



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