Learning French in Nice and the Côte d’Azur: Sounds Like a Really Nice Idea, Right?
If you’re going to dedicate yourself to learning French, why not do it in style?
The city of Nice truly is nice.
It’s on the Mediterranean coast of France, also known as the Côte d’Azur or the “Blue Coast.”
Which means it’s pretty much paradise.
Temperate weather all year long, warm blue sea, beautiful beaches, delicious food… and, of course, some stellar language schools!
This guide will help you understand the important criteria to consider when choosing a school, and will also include some recommendations for language schools in Nice and the surrounding area in southern France.
But before we get to that, there’s one important question to ask yourself: you could learn French in many places all throughout the world, so why should you choose to learn French in Nice?
What a Nice Idea! All About Learning French in Nice and the Côte d’Azur
Why Should You Study French in Nice?
Nice is the major city in the Côte d’Azur region and the fifth most populous city in France. Nicknamed “Nice la Belle” (Nice the Beautiful), this city offers a host of great reasons to visit.
Nice was first settled in 350 B.C. by the Greeks, who called it Nikaia after Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. The city has changed hands many times over the centuries, from Savoy to Piedmont to France, and it has long been a favorite locale for famous artists including Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse. The result is a city with a rich history and a unique culture; it even has its own language, Niçois—but never fear because the locals all speak French, too.
Nice is only one of many spots you could choose if you want to study French on the Côte d’Azur. Just 20 minutes away by train, Cannes beckons to lovers of cinema and sandy beaches (contrary to those in Nice, which are made of galets, a name for small stones). Antibes, meanwhile, is the choice of many who prefer a more resort-town atmosphere.
No matter where you choose to study, you’ll likely want to take advantage of your location on one of France’s most beautiful coasts to visit the surrounding area. Local trains connect the towns along the Côte d’Azur at fairly regular intervals, so you can easily pop over to Monaco for the day—or even to Italy, just a short jaunt away.
Rules for Choosing a School
There are several things to bear in mind when choosing a language school.
The first, of course, is location: would you rather be in a larger city with tons of cultural activities and shopping, or in a smaller city or town where you might be able to get around more easily on foot? Is it important to be close to a beach, or are you willing to make a day trip to spend an afternoon at the seashore?
Once you’ve decided on a location, it’s time to pick a school. With the variety of options available to you in the region, there are a few important questions to ask yourself.
How Long Do I Want to Stay?
Consider whether you want your language-learning experience to be a week-long stint or a months-long adventure. Most schools offer both, but some will offer more intensive options for just a week or perhaps a discount if you’re staying longer.
However, you should keep in mind that depending on where you come from, you may need a visa for upwards of three months of study, and in order to qualify for a visa, you’ll need to be a “full-time” student, which means at least 15 hours a week of classes. Make sure the school you’ve chosen offers this option.
What Kind of Class Do I Want to Take?
Are you a true beginner or are your skills more advanced? Are you hoping to specialize in a specific type of French—French for business, for example—or do you just want a basic grammar class?
These are all questions to ask yourself when looking into a school. Depending on your level of French, some schools may cater better to your needs than others. Some schools will also offer electives, ranging from courses in French art history to cooking classes or sailing lessons taught in French. You may also have the option to add on private lessons to improve your French even more quickly.
To interact smoothly with native French speakers in Nice, you’ll need to be up-to-speed with everyday, conversational French.
Of course, your choice of school will be about more than academics.
Some schools have a very active social calendar as well, offering the option of day trips and activities. While it’s certainly possible to plan for and participate in such activities on your own, a school that offers these activities might help you meet people more easily and even discover things about the region.
Where Do I Want to Live?
Housing is another key factor to consider. Schools offer different housing options, ranging from on-campus housing to homestay placements to no housing at all. Consider which option is best for you. On-campus housing will probably be the easiest way to make new friends—and get to class on time! A homestay placement, meanwhile, will afford full immersion in the language and will give you the opportunity to get to know some locals aside from your teachers.
Some programs also offer au pair placements, to help you save a bit of money. Others have agreements with local hotels or apartment complexes, allowing students more autonomy when they’re not in class.
How Much Do I Want to Pay?
Different programs require different budgets, so be sure to look at price (including add-ons like electives and housing) when making your final decision. For example, some schools offer cheap on-campus dining halls, while others require you to budget for meals on top of program costs.
With all of these factors in mind, here are a few programs you should consider.
4 Chic Programs to Learn French in Nice and on the Côte d’Azur
Located in Nice’s residential Borriglione neighborhood, France Langue is located in a beautiful Niçois villa. This small school boasts seven state-of-the-art classrooms as well as a resource center, a common room and an outdoor garden.
- Basic French Program: 15 hours of class a week, 12 students maximum
- Other Courses Include: French for business, tourism, medicine, law and diplomacy; French and Art de Vivre with cooking option; French and Sport with options for kitesurfing, diving or tennis instruction in French
- Price: Starts at 155 Euros (182 USD) per week
- Housing: Dorms, apartment rentals, homestay option
Collège International de Cannes
In nearby Cannes, the Collège International de Cannes offers French classes within spitting distance of a sandy beach. The Collège campus boasts 24 classrooms, an on-site dining hall, 113 student dorms, a multimedia room, a theater, a gym and a beautiful courtyard surrounded by palm trees.
- Basic French Program: 18 hours of class a week, 14 students maximum
- Other Courses Include: French for business, law and fashion; Seminars in cooking, perfumery, art history, French society, French politics, French cinema, French business and theater
- Price: Starts at 196 Euros (230 USD) per week
- Housing: On-campus lodging, options for homestay
Centre International d’Antibes
The Centre International d’Antibes is located in a typical Provençal-style “mas” (a traditional stone farmhouse) less than a kilometer from the center of Antibes. 22 classrooms, a cafeteria and a library are all at the disposition of students here.
- Basic French Program: 15 hours of class a week, 12 students maximum
- Other Courses Include: Private tutoring; Specialized pre-university courses; European relations and French; Electives in business French, politics and pronunciation
- Price: Starts at 165 Euros (194 USD) per week
- Housing: Private room in a homestay environment, student housing in a residence, luxury hotel rooms and private apartments
Alpha B is located in the heart of Nice in a beautiful Belle Epoque-era former private home that has been completely modernized to accommodate students.
- Basic French Program: 15 hours of class a week, 10 students maximum
- Other Courses Include: Private tutoring; Specialized electives in French for business, law and tourism; Translation and interpretation courses
- Price: Starts at 180 Euros (212 USD) per week
- Housing: Student apartments with two to five roommates, studio apartments in a nearby residence or homestay options
No matter which option you choose for your French program on the Côte d’Azur, you’re sure to find the tools you’ll need to succeed.
Pretty soon, with the combination of coursework and French immersion, you’ll be well on your way to French fluency.