Improve your language skills as you soak in the richness and diversity of French culture.
The most geographically diverse country in Europe, France is made up of many regions, each with its own distinct flavor. Wherever you’re placed to live and study, you’ll be immersed in the language, culture, and typical teen routine at a public or private lycée or collège. Although studies are rigorous (the school day ends at 5–6 p.m.), you’ll still have plenty of time to hang out at cafés, visit museums, play sports, watch French TV, and share traditional home-cooked meals with your host family.
“Over the last weekend in January, I went to a park called Les Trois Forêts with my host mom, my host brother, and my host mom’s sister and her two little girls, and it was the best experience I had. Not because of what we did (indoor swimming in a huge area, playing board games like a family, etc.), but because this was when I decided that I loved everything about this year, even the hard and the bad parts, and that I wanted to spend my life traveling and having moments like this one.”
-Madelyn F., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna
Upon arriving in France with your fellow participants, you will be met by CIEE staff in Toulouse, where you will begin your five-day orientation. During orientation, you will participate in a series of workshops focusing on a variety of themes — culture, language, academics, social norms, and current events — all designed to best prepare you for your experience in France. You will also take 10 hours of language classes to help prepare you for your language immersion experience. In addition, you’ll see some of the best that Toulouse has to offer!
Participate in an exciting scavenger hunt, where you’ll explore the city and put your French into practice. Visit some of Toulouse’s most impressive structures: the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, the Capitole de Toulouse, and the Pont Neuf. Additionally, you will spend time with French high schoolers, taking a cooking class and sharing a meal!
Beaches, skiing, world-class museums — there’s something for everyone in Europe’s largest and most diverse country.
With CIEE High School Abroad in France, you’ll experience what daily life is really like for your peers in the largest — and most diverse — country in Europe.
Lose your voice cheering for the local rugby team during a close match. Try eating escargot at dinner out with your host family (and surprise yourself to find it’s not as strange as you had imagined). Get a feel for regional slang, and build your vocabulary by chatting with local shop owners, neighbors, and friends of your host family.
Whether you’re placed in the center of Toulouse or in a nearby suburb, you’ll discover the country’s rich culture and history, both in class and through your own personal explorations. You’ll advance your French language skills through intensive study and casual conversation, and build practical, real-world skills that will serve you in college and beyond.
Whether you arrive with basic proficiency or on the brink of fluency, you’ll make dramatic strides in your written and spoken language skills while immersed in the French high school experience. Return home with advanced French conversational skills, ready to leap over the next level of language classes in the United States.
Based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, CIEE High School Abroad participants improve, on average, two language levels during the course of the program.
The CIEE High School Abroad program provides students more language contact hours in just a few weeks than the average U.S. high school student receives through high school language classes in an entire academic year — 150 hours.*
*Alice Omaggio Hadley’s Teaching Language in Context
You will receive an official record of classes and grades from your local school in France. Credit transfer will vary from school to school, country to country, so please consult with your U.S. school guidance counselor.
After immersing yourself in unfamiliar practices and customs, you’ll become better equipped to interact with people from other cultures — in school, on the job, or in your personal life. In today’s interconnected global economy, intercultural skills have never been more important.
94% of participants said their intercultural understanding and knowledge improved as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program, while 93% said their experience made them more aware of global issues.
Independence & Resilience
Come home better prepared to make transitions, take control of new situations, and appreciate challenging experiences for what they are: opportunities to learn and grow.
90% of participants said their level of independence increased as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program.
“I learned things that aren’t taught in schools: what is really important to me, what I want out of life, and how to be more open-minded and confident.”
–Sophie R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna
Studying abroad gives you the kinds of life skills that can’t be learned in a classroom — and shows college admissions reps that you’re already one step ahead in terms of initiative, maturity, and independence.
79% of participants said their experience with CIEE helped shape their college applications.
“Everyone is shocked to hear that I studied abroad when I was 15 years old. I’m shocked myself — yet, quite frankly, I’m shocked that it isn’t more common to study abroad in high school. CIEE gave me an opportunity that most people have never heard of. The program transformed me into the person I am today, with impeccable people skills and the ability to adapt to any environment. I owe a huge thanks to the CIEE program. I am proud to be a CIEE alumnus!”
-Alex A., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus
Passion & Direction
Upon return, you’ll likely have a better sense of what you want to study in college or even pursue as a career.
86% of participants felt their experience with CIEE impacted their educational or career pursuits and goals, while 96% of participants said they regularly use the knowledge and skills they acquired while abroad with CIEE.
Sample Activities & Excursions
Art, food, culture, countryside — take your pick of adventures in spectacular France.
France is well-known for its rich history, as well as world-famous art, architecture, food, and culture. With cosmopolitan cities, alpine ski villages, quiet countryside, and a bustling coastline, France has something for everyone. From the Eiffel Tower to the beaches of Nice, there’s no shortage of top attractions to explore. Wherever you’re placed to live and study, you are only a train ride away from a range of amazing destinations. You’ll have a whole year or semester to discover the country — on your own, with new CIEE friends, and with your host family.
As part of the program price, CIEE includes two trips per semester, with the option to participate in an additional at-cost trip each semester.
- Carcassonne (cost included)
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Carcassonne is listed by CNN Travel as being the second-best walled city in the world. Spend a Saturday with CIEE staff and your fellow participants exploring this incredible destination.
- Port-Vendres (cost included)
You’ll spend three days with fellow CIEE students exploring the colorful village of Port-Vendres and nearby Collioure, a few miles from the Spanish border. While visiting, you’ll taste the local French-Catalan cuisine, tour a seventh-century castle, and participate in cultural activities.
- Paris (additional cost) Optional
You’ll make the most of your time in The City of Light, hitting sights like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame. Your CIEE staff will help you gain an understanding of authentic Parisian life through off-the-beaten-tracks exploration and conversation with local citizens.
- Albi (cost included)
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Albi is located just one hour from Toulouse. Join your CIEE cohort in a day of exploration and good food! Spend time meandering through the city, visiting some of the top sights, and cap off your day with an incredible meal at a local restaurant.
- The Lot Valley (cost included)
You’ll travel deep into the French countryside to the beautiful Lot Valley. The trip will start in Cahors, a city with a fascinating blend of medieval, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture. From there, you’ll continue on to locations such as Saint-Cirq Lapopie and Rocamadour, ranked among the most beautiful villages in France. You might also visit the 20,000-year-old painted cave of Pech Merle and the underground river and limestone galleries of Gouffre de Padirac. There’s so much to see in the Lot Valley!
- Provence (additional cost) Optional
You’ll spend four full days traveling through the world-famous Provence region, one of the most beautiful areas of southern France. Your activities may include a trip to the medieval town of Avignon and a stop at Le Palais des Papes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After that, you’ll move on to the multicultural port city of Marseille, check out the Museum of Mediterranean Cultures, eat lunch at a North African spice market, and hike in a national park on the Mediterranean Sea.
Meet the Staff
Global High School Coordinator
Mathilde Baud was born and raised in France. Her passion for languages took her on a volunteering experience in Africa at the age of 16, followed by working in a cultural center in Slovenia for one year; studying and living in different cities in Italy, teaching French and English; and guiding groups of American students in Toulouse. Through those diverse experiences, she has gained the necessary knowledge, language and cultural expertise, management training, and conflict mediation skills to effectively support participants and/or resolve any crisis that might arise.
Very organized, Mathilde is quick to find safe and cost-efficient solutions for getting in and around Toulouse. She enjoys giving students updates on the local cultural events and is a great resource for learning and traveling tips. Her understanding of European cultural diversity will help students enlarge their experience, and her interest in all things historical and artistic is bound to be catching!
Mathilde’s motto is “when there is a word, there is a way,” and she won’t take “I don’t know the word in French” as an answer! You will see her carrying around her magical signboard to encourage students to speak in French.
A resident of Toulouse with American and French citizenship, Isabelle Jaffe received her licence (BA) in French and philosophy and her master’s degree in literature from the University of Paris–La Sorbonne. She has been on the teaching staff of New York’s Marymount College and the Alliance Française in Los Angeles, California. Isabelle has taught French and English at several institutes and colleges in Toulouse and Avignon, and she served as the supervisory director for the Centre International.