Learning French in France 🇫🇷
December 25, 2018 3:23 PM   Subscribe

One of my goals for 2019 is to do a French intensive course in France. I am looking at the Alliance Française in Marseille for June and I am wondering if anyone here has experience of them, or of Marseille? I am a solo female traveler in her mid 30s, with an intermediate knowledge of French.

For example I would like to know:
What is the teaching style of the school like?
Will I need to allow time for homework?
How walkable is Marseille?
Is there a metro system in Marseille?
Is it going to be very touristy in June?
How hot can I expect it to be in June? (in Celsius please!)
What are some sights and attractions in and around Marseille?
Does it have an airport or if not could I get the train down from Paris?
How expensive is it for things like public transport, lunch, sightseeing etc?
Anything else you think I should consider?
posted by EatMyHat to Travel & Transportation around Marseille, France (6 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to consider someplace other than Marseille, a French teacher I know recommended this school in Foix in the Pyrenees, which several acquaintances raved about. It's accessible by train from Paris. Classes are in the morning. You can have your own apartment. Cultural tours of this stunning area are part of the teaching. Perhaps the school can put you in touch with students who took courses there.
posted by Elsie at 6:16 PM on December 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm not a big fan of Marseille, it's a large industrial city and a little grimy. But nearby is Aix-en-Provence which is lovely. I did a couple of weeks of custom tutoring there at IS Aix-en-Provence back in 2007 and enjoyed it. Most of the school is a formal program with students in classes of 10-20 studying a standard curriculum to pass the standard tests to get their certificates. It seemed like a reasonable program. We did something more custom and individual which worked out fine but was a little disorganized. No problem for our purposes, but if I had a limited budget and really needed formal instruction I would have wanted them to do better.

Alliance Française exists all over the world to teach French in a specific formalized way. I think you'll find the program is good.

I think of Marseille as hot, but being on the coast it's not really; Google tells me the average high is about 22C in June. The TGV from Paris is very easy and while a long ride, quite fast. Google suggests it's 3-3.5 hours. June will be touristy; not quite as much as the high tourist season of late July / August, and not as much in Marseille itself as the nearby Riviera.
posted by Nelson at 12:13 AM on December 26, 2018

Response by poster: I would be willing to consider other places but am particularly interested in the south of France as I’ve heard good things but never been there. I would ask the same questions about other locations/schools too.
posted by EatMyHat at 12:24 AM on December 26, 2018

To answer one of your questions, yes there is an airport outside of Marseille with a train station nearby and a shuttle bus that runs between the two.

Besides gorgeous Aix, another city to consider is Montpellier which has an extensive bus and tram system, is very walkable, and has the Mediterranean beaches a short ride away. Nimes is a wonderful smaller city in a great location.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:56 AM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Foix is in the southwest. Aix en Provence, in the south of France, is a wonderful place to learn a language, much more charming than Marseille. It's lively and elegant in the Parisian way--a little Paris with loads of cafés, frequent outdoors markets, and easily accessible on the TGV from Paris Nice is larger and another city to consider over Marseille.
posted by Elsie at 12:00 PM on December 26, 2018

I can recommend L'institut de Touraine (In Tours, where supposedly the purest French is spoken). It's 1 hour by train from Paris on the TGV (fast train), and nestled in the Loire valley, which is delightful in June: lots of vineyards and castles to visit, Tours is a dynamic town with lots of young people, you can spend time by the river where music nights are organized every night during the summer; great food and of course great wine. Entirely walkable.

There's a new modern art museum which is stunning, and lots of cool bars in the old part of town.

Being able to go to paris every week-end is a plus, but you'll want to explore the region too.
posted by Sijeka at 9:18 AM on December 28, 2018

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