France, world-renowned for its artistic, architectural and culinary achievements is a
country of true inimitable charm. It is so much more than just the city of Paris, and
with its overwhelming abundance of museums, galleries, bistros and stunning vistas
to explore, it’s easy to embrace the French expression joie de vivre – the joy of living
– when exploring French culture.

People & Culture

Even if on first meeting they may appear rude and love to complain about everything, French people are very welcoming and like to discover new cultures. They are very happy to be French and love to share their own culture, which is rich and varied, with a way of life and traditions that comprise gastronomy, the arts, fashion, literature, architecture and history.
France is an ancient country, where you can still find Roman antiquity, medieval castles, French renaissance buildings and more. There is much to surprise you, from the big cities to the smallest towns, and picturesque landscapes.

Climate & Geography

France is composed of the France metropolitaine and the Dom-Com (department and region of France that are over sea as Martinique, New Caledonia, Reunion Island…). France is the third biggest country in Europe, and it is in the board of 8 European countries and 6 maritime zones. It is very diverse, offering beautiful countryside, the Alps, and three coasts: the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. There are mountains, volcanoes, rivers and the sea … you are sure to find something you want to visit. The weather in France is pretty good, not too cold or too hot, even if sometimes during summer it can reach around 37°C. Of course, if you are in the north of France it will be colder, and in the south it is warmer.


France is known all over the world for its food, both savoury dishes or sweet. There are a number of traditional foods that are well known, such as cheese and pastries, depending on which part of the country you are in. Don’t worry … even if you have heard that they eat snails, frogs’ legs and rabbit in France, it is not really very common. However, if you are a little bit adventurous it is a very good experience to try. French cuisine is very good. The French love to eat and mealtimes are very important. Dinner is the most important meal during the week because everyone can be together after work, but during the weekend, lunch may be the main meal of the day. Extended family meals for a special event may start at 12pm and not finish till 5pm, with multiple courses served, eg, an appetizer, entrée, main, salad, cheese, dessert. It is rare to find a vegetarian family in France, even more so for a vegan, and gluten is common in most households as French bread is much-loved!


The main language in France is French, and your stay will be easier if you already know some French. Many parents in France do not speak any English or very basic. However, you will discover that learning a language is obligatory in school. You will have English classes and a second one to choose (the main ones are Italian, Spanish and German). You can find some regional languages in France such as Ch’ti, Basque and Breton, but they are not really used nowadays. However you will find there are different ways of speaking French in each region, and some accents can be very difficult to understand in the beginning.


The majority of French schools are public and secular (so you can’t wear overtly religious symbols to school), but you the rules are different for private schools. The school year starts in September and ends in June the following year, with usually 6 weeks of school and 2 weeks of holiday. A typical day of school in France can be long when you are not used to it. The school day begins at 8 am and ends between 5 and 6 pm, but don’t worry, you get one or two hours of break for lunch and some other breaks of 10 to 20 minutes during the day. Wednesday is usually a half day. Education varies a lot in France. Generally, everyone has common courses in History, Geography, French, other languages (English and a second one), sport, Civics and Science. Then, if you are in Première or Terminal you can choose three or two other subjects of your choice. The most common options are Arts, History–Geography and Political Science, Humanity–Literature and Philosophy, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Informatic, and Economics.

Host Family

It is essential that everyone participates with chores at home, from helping with cooking to doing laundry. It is also important to follow any family rules. Many host families will be in small towns where public transport can be limited, so it is important to check with the family when you need to make plans for transportation. Family is very important in France, and you may find yourself living next to the grandparents, and having a big family lunch every Sunday.

Teenage Life

You may have extra activities after school, but most of the time they will take place on Wednesday afternoons. In school you will be spending time with your friends and after school with your family, though you may enjoy meeting up with your friends on the weekend. Popular activities for teenagers are going to the cinema, to a concert, or meeting for coffee.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

AFS provides comprehensive orientation for all students and families before, during and after your exchange – AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you the whole way through! In-person orientation camps in New Zealand and your host country are supplemented by our world-leading online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to develop essential global skills, learn intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact. This journey will help you maximise your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community, and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad and as you return to your home country. Find out more about our educational expertise here!

Explore the Programmes Available in France



  • DestinationFrance
  • DurationsMultiple durations
  • Program Dates
    • Sep 2024 - Jan 2024
    • Sep 2024 - Jun 2025
    • Nov 2024 - Jan 2025