Do you feel like it’s taking forever to make measurable progress in your French acquisition?
Whether you study on your own or take classes, you have only so much time to devote to learning the language.
You want to become fluent but at this rate, you’d be happy to just make it through one chapter in your textbook.
What if I told you there’s a way to learn more French in a shorter amount of time?
No, this isn’t some kind of scam like an infomercial for diet pills.
This is real.
I’m talking about intensive French courses… in France. It just doesn’t get any better than this!
What Is an Intensive French Course?
In an intensive course, students learn a lot of information over a short period of time.
You probably have French class for one or two hours per week if you’re in school. In an intensive course, you could be in the classroom anywhere from three to, say, nine hours per day!
An intensive French course might initially sound like torture after reading this brief explanation.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite: Intensive courses provide learners with a fun burst of language learning, often accompanied by cultural expeditions and a fully immersive experience.
Sold yet? Here are some benefits of such programs.
What Are the Benefits of Enrolling in an Intensive Course?
You work language study into your schedule
Everyone’s situation is different. For one reason or another, you may not have time to take French classes regularly all year.
Let’s say you have a full-time job and can only take two weeks off work every year. Or you’re a parent. Or maybe you’re in college and want to study French more seriously, but you don’t have additional time to dedicate to further learning.
Well, you can study French intensively for one week, one month or more! Work things around your schedule, all while experiencing France.
You don’t have time to forget material
We’ve all been there: You go to French class in school on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, you’ve forgotten half the material. And things are definitely a little fuzzy when you return to class on Tuesday after all those days away from your French classroom!
When you go to French class five days a week, though, your brain doesn’t have time to lose all that new information.
You experience immersion
Intensive courses in France are about more than just time in the classroom. All your free time’s spent around French people. You go to local restaurants, stay with a host family and see French films in the cinema.
Most programs intentionally immerse students in the local culture with organized outings and cultural classes.
You advance faster
If you study French multiple hours per day, five days a week, you move through material much faster than if you study just an hour or two here and there.
The more material you cover, the sooner you move up to the next level since this time is used more efficiently.
8 Intensive French Courses in France
Before you head out to tackle these intensive courses, you might want to brush up on your French skills. One of the best ways to do this is by using FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive subtitles, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word “suit,” then you see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you’ve learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like “fill in the blank.”
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. You’ll receive video recommendations that suit your interest and current level of progress.
Use FluentU to mimic immersion and surround yourself with the sounds of the French language before you even book a plane ticket. You can keep using it anytime, anywhere with your computer or with the mobile apps from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
1. Montpellier: Institut Linguistique Adenet
Institut Linguistique Adenet (Linguistic Institute of Adenet) offers standard year-round French courses that allow students to take 20 classes per week.
While this setup is already pretty remarkable, the official “intensive program” is available only in the summer. The summer program consists of 30 classes per week, at 45 minutes per class.
This program may be “intense,” but the staff believes it’s important to balance classroom learning with cultural activities around Montpellier. Interacting with a culture usually spurs on a learner’s passion for the French language. The wide range of cultural options for students is what makes Institut Linguistique Adenet unique.
You can choose from local wine tastings, visits to historical spots in Montpellier, sporting events and excursions outside city limits.
Montpellier is a vibrant city located in the South of France. It’s a popular area among young people, particularly young professionals.
The city is known for being sunny and full of activities. If you enroll in the summer intensive course, you’re bound to enjoy lots of sunshine and spend plenty of time outside!
You’re probably wondering, Combien ça coûte? (How much does it cost?)
You can enroll in classes here for one week or longer. The intensive program costs 220 euros (260 USD per week). There are additional fees for services such as French proficiency certifications. If you need the school to provide housing with a host family, at a hotel or in university housing, that will add to the price.
Cultural activities are optional extra expenses, but most of the fees are super reasonable. For example, a macaron tasting session only costs 7.20 euros (8.70 USD). Heck, most of their excursions to nearby cities are moderately priced at 35 euros (42 USD)!
2. Montpellier: LSF French Language School
The LSF French Language School offers three types of intensive courses throughout the year. Regardless of your goals or time constraints, you’re sure to find an option that works for you.
First, the French Intensive course focuses solely on oral skills. If your main goal is to speak French fluently, this could be the program for you. You attend 26 classes per week, and each lasts 45 minutes.
Second, the French Intensive Immersion course provides the same oral classes as the regular intensive course. The only difference is that one afternoon per week, students take four additional cultural classes. The word “class” is actually a bit misleading because these activities focus on subjects like the cinema, food and painting. Sounds less like a class and more like une aventure (an adventure)!
Third, the French Intensive Plus course focuses on various aspects of the French language, rather than just speaking. You take all the classes described in the regular intensive course, but you also take four one-on-one classes per week with an instructor. In these sessions, your teacher addresses your areas of interest or concepts you struggle with, such as grammar or writing.
This program is also located in the gorgeous Montpellier. LSF places less emphasis on cultural immersion than ILS. However, one perk is that you can attend the school year-round, thus allowing you to experience Montpellier in various seasons.
As with ILS, you can enroll for as little as one week. The good news is that if you sign on for a longer enrollment period, the weekly rate decreases incrementally.
The French Intensive course starts at 300 euros (362 USD) for one week, the French Intensive Immersion is 330 euros (398 USD) per week and the French Intensive Plus costs 500 euros (603 USD) for a week.
At an additional cost, the school sets you up with a homestay, personal or shared apartment, hotel or student housing.
3. The French Alps: Alpine French School
Alpine French School has two intensive French programs: the summer and winter programs. Both programs focus heavily on conversational French and learning how to use the language in real-life situations.
Summer courses include 15 hours of classes, three hours per day for five days a week. Should you select the winter package, you can choose between 10 and 20 hours per week, either two or four hours daily.
The summer season runs during July and August and the winter season lasts from mid-December to the end of July. You can still enroll during other months, but intensive classes usually consist of private lessons rather than group sessions due to low numbers.
The French Alps are the ideal location for students who not only have a passion for French but also have a passion for the outdoors. When you aren’t in the classroom, you’ll probably be engaging in some epic outdoor activities.
In the summer, you can hike, mountain bike, trail run, go white-water rafting and so much more. Frankly, it would take me a long time to list all the summer activities available.
The French Alps are a world-renowned winter destination. Winter sports abound, especially skiing and snowboarding. In fact, you can sign up for Alpine’s Learn French and Skiing program, which gives you designated times to learn French in the classroom and to play outside in the snowy mountains!
Depending on which program you choose, the prices are 190 euros (229 USD) per week for 10 hours, 280 euros (338 USD) per week for 15 hours or 350 euros (420 USD) per week for 20 hours of coursework.
If you want to sign up for Alpine French School’s Learn French and Skiing program, prices start at 950 euros (1,146 USD) per week.
4. The French Riviera: Institut de Français
Talk about intense! Institut de Français (The French Institute) offers an intensive program with classes for eight and a half hours per day, five days per week.
You can enroll for two to four weeks. The upside of this timetable is that you won’t be in the program long enough to burn out on such an extreme schedule. The downside is that if you can only study for a week or are looking for a longer-term program, Institut de Français wouldn’t be the right fit.
But don’t worry, these hours won’t be filled with boring lectures while you sit there and pretend to take notes. The school is serious about taking a “Total Approach,” meaning the day is filled with a variety of activities and numerous aspects of the French language.
The French Riviera’s great for beach lovers. Yes, you spend 42.5 hours per week studying French, but on weekends, you can relax on gorgeous beaches along the Mediterranean Sea.
This area’s in Southeast France, so you can also spend free time traveling to Marseille, Nice or Cannes.
From December to April, the four-week course costs 3,260 euros (3,933 USD) and the two-week course costs 1,630 euros (1,967 USD.) From May to November, attend four weeks of classes for 3,930 euros (4,742 USD) or two weeks for 1,965 euros (2,371 USD).
If these prices seem steep, keep in mind that not only do you study for eight and a half hours per day but the programs also include two meals and one snack every school day. The prices also include evening outings and one excursion.
If you want the school to provide housing in community or studio apartments, you’ll pay extra for those accommodations. A non-refundable 60-euro (72 USD) registration fee is also required.
5. Antibes: Centre International d’Antibes
Centre International d’Antibes (The International Center of Antibes) has an intensive program that includes 30 classes per week, each lasting 45 minutes.
Morning courses are in a typical classroom setting and focus on general spoken and written French. Afternoon classes divide students into small groups to work specifically on oral French and comprehension. These two methods give you the perfect balance of taking in new information and learning, then encouraging you to speak and hone your skills in small groups.
Courses are held year-round and always start on a Monday.
Antibes isn’t a household name among French cities, but it’s actually the second-largest city on the French Riviera. Plenty of gorgeous beaches are at your disposal.
The website explains that you can catch a train to Cannes, Nice, Italy or Monaco every half-hour. Because you don’t spend as much time in the classroom here as at the Institut de Français, you can spend more time enjoying the beach during the week and taking trains to new locations on weekends.
You must enroll for at least two weeks. Similarly to LSF French Language School, the longer your enrollment, the cheaper the weekly rate.
Costs start at 375 euros (452 USD) per week. You’ll also pay more if you ask for placement with host families, hotels or student housing.
6. Paris: Accord Ecole de Langues
Accord Ecole de Langues (Agreement School of Languages) in Paris offers five intensive programs. The school refers to them as Courses A through E.
Course A is compromised of 26 lessons per week, Course B is 30 lessons, Course C is 34 lessons, Course D is 38 lessons and Course E is 42 lessons. Each lesson lasts 45 minutes.
Courses A, B and C also offer the Intensive PLUS option, which includes the aforementioned group lessons, plus five to 20 hours of one-on-one sessions.
You can attend for only one week if you want, but this school is unique in that there are only certain days you can start. Check the website for each course’s start dates.
Wow, what do I really need to say to convince you of how amazing Paris is?
I’ll just say five things: The Eiffel Tower. The Arc of Triumph. Notre Dame Cathedral. Crepes. Pastries.
No, I don’t think I need to say anything else.
Accord Ecole de Langues is yet another school that offers discounted weekly tuition to students who enroll for longer periods of time. Course A starts at 330 euros (398 USD) per week and subsequent courses cost an additional 30 euros, putting Course E at 480 euros (579 USD) per week.
You’ll pay more for the Intensive PLUS program but the price depends on whether you want to take five, 10 or 20 hours of one-on-one classes weekly.
You can also pay an additional fee for one of the school’s various housing options, such as homestay, apartment, student housing, hotel and furnished studios and apartments.
7. Lyon: Alliance Française de Lyon
Alliance Française de Lyon (French Alliance of Lyon) has an impressive number of intensive French course offerings.
First, there are general French intensive programs. Choose from General French Day, General French Evening, General French for Au Pair Students and General French for two weeks. (The other courses require at least one month of enrollment.)
Now let’s look at the Extra-Intensive French program. The offerings are truly remarkable. They all include general French, plus these concentrations: French for university, cultural workshop, writing skills, grammar, writing skills and grammar and two options for a summer workshop focused on speaking skills.
Whew. Say that three times fast.
If there’s a specific aspect of French you want to improve, this program surely has a corresponding option.
Lyon is the third-largest city in France, the first two being Paris and Marseille.
The city’s known as the gastronomic capital of the world. While you might think the best place to get French cuisine is in Paris: nope, it’s Lyon! I spent two months in this city when I was in college. I didn’t consider myself a foodie when I arrived, but I definitely considered myself one by the time I left.
Each of the numerous course options includes a different number of hours, so prices vary. The most affordable month-long program is the General French Evenings class, at only 180 euros (217 USD) per month for 16 hours.
The most expensive class is the Extra-Intensive French class that incorporates both writing skills and grammar. At 84 hours per week, it includes the most classroom time in the program, and the price is 750 euros (905 USD) per month.
You can pay for accommodation with a host family, in university housing or at a hotel. You must take at least 15 hours of lessons per week and be enrolled in Alliance Française for at least one month to use their housing connections. Sorry, two-week students!
8. Marseille: L’Institut Destination Langues
Though L’Institut Destination Langues (The Institute of Destination Languages) offers classes year-round, its intensive programs are only available from early July to late September.
You have a four-week or a two-week option. The four-week program includes 100 hours of classes and the two-week program includes 50.
Each program’s split into three sections: General French, workshops and excursions. General French takes up most of your time, where learning takes place in a small classroom setting. Workshops focus on French culture and writing skills. Excursions are trips to nearby places so you can explore the Provence region, where Marseille is located.
L’Institut Destination Langues also offers four-week and two-week semi-intensive courses, which include 60 hours and 30 hours of French lessons, respectively.
Marseille is the second-largest French city, located in the South of France in the Provence region. It’s known for being a great party city.
If you’re not into the party scene, Marseille’s also an ideal spot for outdoor activities such as hiking and snorkeling.
The school guides you in exploring Marseille and greater Provence with cultural activities such as theater outings, vineyard visits and hikes.
The four-week intensive package costs 705 euros (851 USD) and the two-week is 405 euros (489 USD).
The semi-intensive packages cost 450 euros (543 USD) for four weeks and 280 euros (338 USD) for two weeks.
Along with classes, you also pay a 35-euro (42 USD) fee to register and 25 euros (30 USD) for materials.
You pay extra if the company sets you up with a host family or in a youth hostel, bed and breakfast, hotel, apartment or studio.
We all have different needs when it comes to learning French in France. Maybe finding a bargain is your biggest concern. Or you want to fit as much material as possible into a short amount of time. Or maybe you want plenty of leisure time to explore the region.
The one thing we do all have in common? We’re passionate about learning French. Regardless of your unique needs, you’re bound to find the intensive course that meets them.
Laura Grace Tarpley is a writer based in Athens, Georgia. She has spent the past four years living in and exploring France, New Zealand and China. She runs the blog Let’s Go Tarpley!, where she writes city guides and budget travel tips.
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