September 2009 issue

Agency News
Agency Survey
Market Report
Direction - Exams
Direction - Workshops
Special Report
Course Guide 1
Course Guide 2
Regional Focus

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Mediterranean France

Glamour, beaches, and inland villages and countryside that could be found nowhere else on earth – France’s southern coastline has so much charm that students are inevitably drawn to the region, as Jane Vernon Smith discovers.

France’s Mediterranean south coast stretches for 620 kilometres from the border with Spain in the west to Italy in the east. Here lie several of the country’s major cities and a number of world-famous resorts, together with a wide choice of language schools, making it little wonder that the area is an ever-popular destination for international students.

Best known is the stretch of coastline between St Tropez and Monaco that is known as the French Rivièra. Here tourists flock to the sun, sea and sand and the expensive hotels and shops that line its promenades. Students too are attracted by the beaches (not all of them private), as well as by the beauty of the region and its cultural offer, as Andreas Schweitzer of the Collège International de Cannes, points out. “Everything,” he says, “is in close proximity – the city, beaches, mountains and forest.”

Cannes itself is a small town, but, says Schweitzer, with the infrastructure and other advantages of a larger one, thanks to the many events it hosts throughout the year. The most important of these being the May Film Festival, which is free to attend. However, should students wish to avoid the masses, Delphine Crevelle, Marketing and Operations Manager at Escapade Cannes, suggests students take a stroll around the Marche Forville, complete with quaint Provençal food stalls selling local produce. “Cannes is an authentic Mediterranean village with a rich and diverse heritage,” she observes.

Cannes’ close proximity to the beach means surfing, sailing, swimming and scuba diving are all close at hand. However, Schweitzer notes that hiking in the mountains is a popular activity, and a chance to escape the heat of the city, while skiing nearby is also available at varying levels of difficulty. A good bus service allow students to travel cheaply across the whole of the Alpes-Maritime area for just e1 (US$1.41), and there is a good, but more expensive, train service that runs along the coast to Nice, Monte Carlo and beyond. A stay in neighbouring Nice offers many of these same opportunities. The largest resort on the riviera, this attractive city is built around a bay, with its famous Promenade des Anglais running alongside the beach. A university town, as well as a working port, it is a centre for culture with many museums and galleries. With good transport links, including an international airport, it is an ideal base from which to explore the wider south coast area. Popular excursions at International House Nice include nearby Monaco, which Director, William Rubinstein describes as “a small foreign country, full of glamour”, Antibes, a small resort famous for its many yachts and its Picasso museum, and St Tropez, a mecca for artists on account of the quality of its light.

With a reputation as a lively, young town, where there’s something to do for all tastes and ages, the coastal city of Montpellier boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, according to Andrew Kinselle of local language school, Langues Sans Frontières (LSF). Its “wonderful, sandy beaches” are a big attraction, but there is more to the town than this, he underlines. Montpellier is at the same time a modern and historical city, says Kinselle, with a famous vibrant university that attracts students from all over the world.

While the resorts of the southeast have a reputation as playgrounds of the rich, the Montpellier region is much more affordable, comments Kinselle. Anne Debard at AS Intercultures in the city adds that internships here are readily available. One leisure attraction is the newly opened Odysseum leisure park, while Montpellier is also well placed for visiting other historic towns, such as Avignon. Kinselle also recommends the walled city of Carcassonne, a Unesco World Heritage site, as well as the Camargue National Park, with its bulls, white horses and gypsy traditions.

Typical local attractions include the courses camarguaises, a local version of bullfighting, while visitors to Sète may be lucky enough to witness displays of the historic custom of jousting.

South of Avignon, the port of Marseille has a completely different feel, thanks in part to its cultural and ethnic diversity, which, says Marie-France Villette at the Centre International pour la Promotion des Etudes Linguistiques (Cipel), is displayed in its food and traditions. “We celebrate every French or local tradition with a different dish or cake,” she relates.

The city’s reputation has sometimes deterred potential students, but, assures Villette, “All Cipel students leave saying the same thing: in their home country, people tried to dissuade them from coming, and none of them has ever wished they hadn’t come!” Not only are they astonished when they realise how lively the city is, she adds, but also how peaceful and safe it is.

Not far inland lies the ancient university town of Aix-en-Provence. With one third of its population made up by students, according to Anna Clara Sainte-Rose of local language school, IS Aix-en-Provence, it is fully geared to a student community. “[Students love] to stroll around the narrow streets, the markets, to take a drink and watch people in the sun in a café on the Cours Mirabeau,” she observes. Food and wine are, of course, a local attraction, and the school offers a range of activities that reflect this, including cooking classes, wine tasting, painting and aromatherapy workshops.

Lovers of art will also be attracted to the picturesque fishing villiage of Collioure. Close to the Spanish border and approximately 25 kilometres from Perpignan, Collioure “is rightly famous for its charm, artistic history, striking colours and, of course, breathtaking views,” says Florence Delseny Sobra, Managing Director of Académie de Langues France Méditerranée (Alfmed) in Perpignan. “You may be in France, but the region’s distinctive Catalan culture and history – not to mention the climate – will make you feel like you’re in the real South!” she regales. “Founded by the Romans, this ancient capital of the Kingdom of Majorca enchants visitors with its palm-lined squares, sunny terraces, narrow streets and a very special, untarnished Mediterranean charm.”

For a fun night out in Perpignan, meanwhile, Delseny Sobra suggests students head to Canet-Plage. This nearby beach is home to the “very hip” Bar à Bulles (Bubbles Bar), whose name alludes to Nayendei, a sweet, sparkling Muscat wine that is made locally. “Expect to drink a few here,” says Delseny Sobra. “There’s more than a touch of Ibiza about this bar, with whitewashed walls and hot music that inspires clubbers to dance until dawn.”

Agent viewpoint

“Year-round sunshine, Mediterranean beaches and trendy shops and cafés make the South of France an obvious choice for students from the UK. Students tend to explore the whole region, even in a short space of time. In Nice, you can visit Antibes, Cannes and Monte Carlo, and, in Montpellier, you can visit Nîmes and Avignon. Add to this the possibility of scuba diving and sailing, and you have a very attractive destination. Easyjet and Ryanair fly to both Nice and Montpellier from a number of UK airports, which helps keep costs down for student budgets.”
Niall Abbott, Halsbury Travel, UK

“[Our clients] like the weather, I think, the water facilities, the good food, nice markets, the landscape and the Cannes film festival in May. And, of course, the more mature students like the French cuisine and wines!”
Kitty Wijsmen, Weg-Wijs, Netherlands

“[Our students like] the ease with which you can travel around the south coast and inland by train. It’s great for them to be able to plan weekend (or even afternoon) trips by public transport with other language students, see so many sights and get a feel for so many different aspects of this part of the world. For nature lovers, [there is] the Camargue; for walkers, the hills and mountains of the region; for gourmets, the amazing regional dishes. In fact, whatever type of person you are, there is a side of the south of France that will appeal to you.”
Katherine Brand, CESA Languages Abroad, UK

“Most of our students who go to the south love being sociable and love being out in the street enjoying a coffee and meeting new friends. They go to relax, but also to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the busy streets in the cities. They love the city life, but when they get the opportunity to visit smaller villages in the countryside they love the scenery and the pace of life – the picturesque villages of Provence are particularly popular.”
Michelle Curtis, Cactus Worldwide, UK

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
International House
      World Organisation  
Languages Canada /
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IALC International  
Perth Education
Quality English  

Travel Solutions

Alphe Conferences  
British Boarding
      Schools Workshops  
Feltom Malta  
IEFT- International
      Education Fairs of
International House
      World Organisation  


Student Guard

Hub and Spoke
      Connections Limited  

Malta Tourism
Perth Education

English Bay College  
Training Partnership
Twin Group
      (Ireland, England,

Ecela - Latin
      (Argentina, Chile,

Ability Education  
Bond University  
English Australia  
Geos Oceania  
      (Australia, New
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway
      International College  
Perth Education City  
      International College   
University of
University of
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CERAN Lingua
      (Belgium, England,

Access International
      English Language
Bow Valley College  
Camosun College  
College de
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College of New
East Coast School
      of Languages
Elmwood School  
ELS Language
English Bay College  
English Language
      Training College
English School of
Geos North America  
Global Village  
      (Australia, Canada,
Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
ILAC - International
      Language Academy
       of Canada  
ILSC - International
      Language Schools
      of Canada  
ITTTI Vancouver  
King George
      International College

Language Studies
National School
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Queen's University  
Richmond School
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Saint Mary's
Selkirk College  
Student Guard
University of
YMCA Greater
      International Lang

IH Xi'an  
Mandarin House  

IH Cairo  

ABC Languages  
Ardmore Language
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Bell International 
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Bury Language
Camp Beaumont  
English Language
      Centre Brighton &
English Studio  
Holme Park  
International House
      World Organisation  
IP International
      Projects GmbH  
      (France, Germany,
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Kaplan Aspect 
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      Zealand, South
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Kings Colleges
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LAL Language
      and Leisure  
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
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LITE - London
      Institute Of
      Technology And
Malvern House
      College London  
      (Canada, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, UK,
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Shakespeare College
Spinnaker College  
St Giles Colleges  
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group 
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SUL Language
Training Partnership
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Twin Group 
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United World
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University of
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University of the
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Wimbledon School
      of English  

Alliance Française
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Education En France  
Institut de Touraine  
SILC - Séjours
      (England, France,

BWS Germanlingua
Carl Duisberg
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      (England, Germany)
inlingua Berlin  
International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Centre of English
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Cork English College
      /Language & Activity

Kai Japanese
      Language School  
      Language School  

      Residential Language
Easy School of
EC English
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Feltom Malta  
Malta Tourism

Derzhavin Institute  
Moscow Linguistic
Privet! Russian
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EAC Language
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      (England, Ireland,
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University of Stirling

EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape
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Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language
      Training Centre
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Interlink School of
International House
      Cape Town  
LAL Cape Town  
Shane Global
      Language Centres -
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Colegio Maravillas  
International House -
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International House
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International House
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Malaca Instituto -
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Idiomas Si, S.L
      (Malaga Si)  

EF Language
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      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, France,
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Domar Travel

Bride English  
ELS Language
Embassy CES  
English Language
Global Immersions
Inlingua Language
inlingua Language
      Service Center,
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      Language Institute
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Johnson & Wales
San Diego
      State University  
The Language
University of
University of
      California San Diego  
California State
      University San
University of
      South Florida  
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)

Celtic School 

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