In April 2006, the French government launched its own accreditation scheme - Qualité Français Langue Etrangère (FLE). This scheme assesses language schools in the following areas; welfare, premises, equipment, programmes, teaching staff and management. Meanwhile, Fle.fr, another French language school association, recently announced a new quality label, the label Fle. Available as of January 2009, this quality mark is available to all French schools in France and not just Fle.fr member schools. Language schools can also join associations such as L'Office Nationale de Garantie des Séjours et Stages Linguistiques, which has its own code of conduct for members, or Souffle, which requires member schools to pass an inspection in order to join, or Unosel - an organisation whose members all adhere to the European standard (called a norm) for language stays. Unosel members rely on this quality regulation instead of self-regulation. Many of France's language travel students come from Western Europe, although Japanese students also represent a significant share of the total.
Travelling around France
Flying within France is quite expensive, but discounts are available to people under 25 years old and students under 27 years old. Most travel agents carry details of good offers. The best deals can often be cheaper than long-distance rail travel as well as being the fastest way to travel.
France has an excellent rail network, operated by Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF). The express services of the Train Ã Grand Vitesse (TGV) link Paris with Lyon and the southeast, Bordeaux with the southwest, Marseille and the south and Calais with London in the UK. There is an extensive rail network which links the main areas of the rest of the country.
Train travel is divided by SNCF into two time periods, called blue (off peak) and white (peak time). Most discounts are available for travel during the blue period. A discount card specifically for young travellers is the Carte 12-25, available to young people aged between 12 and 25 years old. It entitles the holder to up to 50 per cent discount on rail fares or a guaranteed 25 per cent reduction on journeys started in the white period. It is valid for one year and costs 49 euros (US$68).
The France Railpass allows unlimited rail travel on three or more days in a one-month period, and costs from US$258. Eurolines is the main coach operator linking many of the major cities in France. Coach travel is slower than rail travel, but prices are usually lower.
Another good way to see the country is to hire a car, which allows you easy access to many places that are not directly linked by public transport. Motorway driving is also very convenient and fast in France, but you have to pay a toll to drive on most of them so it can be quite costly. Car hire tends to be expensive compared to other forms of public transport, but there are car hire firms in all major towns and cities around France.
Crucial visa info and work rights
Nationals of EU member countries may enter France and study there for as long as they wish. Nationals of Visa free countries (listed below) may visit and study in France for up to three months. For longer-term studies you must apply for a National Long Stay Visa. Details will be available from your nearest Embassy.
Other nationalities will need to apply for a visitor (Schengen) visa, or a long stay visa as appropriate.
An 'Étudiant-concours' visa can be granted to students who need to sit entrance exams or visit institutions of higher education in France for a period of no more than three months, and this can be changed to a full student visa within this time without having to leave the country. The local French consulate or embassy in your home country will deal with your visa application.
Unless you are an EU citizen, it is extremely difficult to get a work visa for France. One of the few exceptions is the provision that student visa holders can apply for permission to work part-time.
One month general French language course: Euro874 (US$1,209)
One week’s homestay accommodation: Euro271 (US$375)
One week’s residential accommodation: Euro249 (US$344)
French language exams available: Delf, Dalf, CCIP exams for specialised French
Visa free countries
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Iceland, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong-Kong (blue passport holders only), Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, The Vatican, U.S.A., Uruguay, Venezuela
French language students in France by country of origin, 2006
Scandinavia and Finland 5%
Source: Language Travel Magazine
Espace Charlotte, 83260 La Crau, France
Tel: +33 494 009465 Fax: +33 494 009230
8, rue Cesar-Franck, 75015 Paris, France
Tel: +33 142733670
19 bis, rue de Seine, 92100 Boulogne, France
Tel: +33 144648030 Fax: +33 146214140
Francais comme Langue Etrangere
17bis A. du Professeur Grasset, Montpellier Cedex 5,34090, France
Tel: +33 467523040
Fax: +33 467917001