Practical Information

Guide Book

You are advised to read carefully the document before departure.

This guidebook not only includes information on the academic program but you will also find advice on daily life in France (suggested packing list, maps of campuses, useful phone numbers, details about accommodation, car rentals in France, etc).


Each year, students study in Toulouse and Poitiers.

  • During odd years, students have the opportunity to visit Paris and attend the Paris Airshow and spend a few nights in the Basque Country where industrial site visits are organized.
  • During even years, students go to Arcachon Bay and Marseille where industrial site visits are organized.


Toulouse is France’s 4th largest city. This “Pink City”, as Toulouse is nicknamed, is located in the southwest and is the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region. Situated on the banks of the Garonne River and close to the Pyrenees Mountains, it is halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The city has a fascinating dual personality. On the one hand, it is home to the French aerospace industry and the country’s growing information-technology sector. On the other hand, it is the alternative artistic and intellectual center of France (alternative to Paris, that is).



Poitiers is located in western France between Bordeaux and Paris. It is sometimes referred to as the “plus petite des grandes villes” : the smallest of the big cities. Smaller than Toulouse, it offers a quieter atmosphere, different architecture, and a milder climate. During the week-long stay in Poitiers, students have the opportunity to experience a completely different French city.

Paris (visited on in odd-numbered years)

Paris is the capital of France and is located in the heart of the country. It has a population of about 12 million residents and is often referred to as the City of Love. Paris is full of beautiful churches, interesting museums, and historical monuments—well worth a weekend visit!

Biarritz & the Basque Country (visited only in odd-numbered years)

Biarritz is located on the Atlantic coast, less than 20 miles from the Spanish border. There, you can enjoy the sun, the beach, and delicious paella and seafood. Biarritz is considered one of Europe’s major surfing destinations; on your free day, rent a board and try your luck!

The Basque Country, of which Biarritz is a part, is a region in the western Pyrenees that covers areas in both France and Spain. The Basque language is unrelated to French and Spanish, and road signs in this region are often written in both French and Basque. It is not uncommon to see older people, particularly men, wearing a red beret, a tradition in Basque Country.

Bordeaux and the Arcachon Bay (visited only in even-numbered years)

Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France. The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France.

Bordeaux is the world’s major wine industry capital. It is home to the world’s main wine fair, while the wine economy in the metro area moves 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble” of the 18th century.

Arcachon Bay, in French the Bassin d’Arcachon (the locals just call “le Bassin”), is a bay of the Atlantic Ocean on the southwest sea shore of France, situated as a landmark between the Côte d’Argent and the Côte des Landes, in the region of Aquitaine. The bay covers an area of 150 km² at high tide and 40 km² at low tide. Some of its geological features are natural preservation areas.

The general shape of the Bassin d’Arcachon is that of an equilateral triangle pointing north, the southwest corner of which is opened and the access from the sea, between Cap Ferret and the town of Arcachon (more specifically, its suburb Pyla-sur-Mer), through a 3 km narrow channel (Les Passes). On the north shore is the town of Arès, then Andernos-les-Bains on the northeast. Just south of the entrance is The Great Dune of Pyla. Nearly in the middle of the bay is a very particular island: L’île aux Oiseaux (birds island).

Marseille (visited only in even-numbered years)

Marseille is the second largest city in France. An ancient port city, it was founded by the Greeks of Phocaea in 600BC. Even today, it serves as France’s premier Mediterranean port, and the city has a diverse population with a vibrant atmosphere. In addition to seeing the sights of Marseille, you may want to take advantage of a side trip to Cassis, where you’ll see beautiful white cliffs sloping down into the clear blue sea.


Helpful Information


Students must have a valid passport to travel to France. If you already have one, please check the expiration date to ensure that it will still be valid during the time you travel to France. If you do not have a passport, see the following site for directions on how to obtain one:


Check with your airline company your luggage allowance. Remember to leave room in your luggage to take home souvenirs!

Safety Tips

We recommend that all students traveling abroad consult the US Department of State’s website for information regarding safety notices:


Depending on the exchange rate (check out for current rates), daily life in France can be a little pricey for an American. The following examples can help you in preparing a budget for your time abroad :

  • Dinner out: 12€ – 15€
  • Sandwiches and kebabs: 3€ – 5€
  • Ice cream, one scoop: 2€
  • Coffee: 2€
  • Movie: 6€ with student ID
  • Large bottle of water: 2€
  • French pastries: 1€ – 3€

Useful Websites

Check out the links page for some sites that will help prepare you for your journey to France!