Study French in Lyon – Guide

Lyon is the third largest city in France.

I studied French in Lyon in 2016. I was there for three months and it was an amazing experience.

Let me take you through the entire process – from deciding which school to finding accommodation.

There are many language schools in the city. The majority of the students tend to choose Alliance Française or Université Lumière Lyon 2.

Both of these schools have good reviews. Let us begin by describing the school I choose.

Alliance Francaise

Are you already familiar with the concept of this school?

Alliance Francaise is represented in many countries around the globe. The organization was founded to spread the French language and its culture.

You could say that you are forced to make progress if you choose this school. Why?

They will make you speak French from day 1. Even if you begin at level 1 . The teachers do not speak English or any other language in the classroom.

You will take a test when you apply for their program. They will then place you in a group that corresponds to your level.

How does it work?

Every level takes one month. You can pass to another level if you make progress in your studies.

There is usually a test at the end of every level.

There are usually more students in the classroom at the beginner’s level.

However, as I already said, you will speak French regardless of your level.

And yes, it is intimidating in the beginning, but you will get used to it after a week or two

Accommodation and prices

I paid around 420 euro per month for tuition. I got a discount because I paid for 3 months directly.

The prices are similar today, you can find more info on their website.

We had lessons everyday (Monday-Friday) in the morning or in the afternoon, around 3 hours per day.

I felt that 3 hours is more than enough. We had homework to do every day, so you could say that we studied full time.

They can find accommodation for you. You can choose between a student room or staying with a host family.

Attention: You need to book the accommodation in advance, preferably a couple of months before your arrival.

What happens if you cannot book in advance?

Then you will find yourself in my position . I applied and paid for my tuition one month in advance.

The school could not provide me with accommodations for my first month. However, for the following two months they arranged a room (with bathroom) for me in a student accommodation.

The room was quite small, only a couple square meters, but the student building was located in the city center.

Better yet, I only paid 270 euros per month. I doubt that you can find this price anywhere else.

I used Airbnb for my first month, and I think I paid 600 euro for one month.

Université Lumière Lyon 2

How does it work? 

This is a university that offers courses with several different fields.

They also offer French courses for beginners. Many of their exchange students attend these courses.

They also receive students who only wish to study French. In general, there are more students in the classroom compared to Alliance Francaise.

I have tried to find their prices, but I have been unsuccessful in doing so.

However, I know for a fact that they offer courses at low prices. Lower than the ones at Alliance. This is definitely an advantage with Université Lumière Lyon 2.


They do not offer accommodation options, or they have limited access. From my understanding, their student rooms are only available for regular exchange students; that is, the ones who are not just studying French.

However, you can find accommodations on your own. I did so for my first month and it was not difficult.

The problem is that you will usually pay a bit more on the private market. Some students cannot afford to pay for an expensive apartment.


I have already told you that I absolutely love this city.

There are so many things to discover.

The inner city is very beautiful, especially Vieux-Lyon.

It is an area that is mostly located on a hill. On top of the hill you will find the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. The view is astonishing and you can see all the central parts of Lyon.

Many churches are absolutely beautiful and you can tell that the French culture has been influenced by its catholic past. However, it should be noted that many citizens are now secular and do not visit the churches.

There are also many parks in and around the city. Some of them include restaurants and even a zoo.

There are also many diverse museums.

I have already told you that the city is famous for its cuisine. Many restaurants are listed in the Michelin Guide.

I have heard from many people that this was a strong reason for visiting the city. However, I did not visit any of these restaurants, as I was a poor student.

I had to resort to cheap kebabs and other inexpensive dishes.

Lyon is a quite expensive city. I’m from Sweden, which means that I’m used to high prices.

However, if you are from the US you probably need to get used to the higher prices in Lyon, especially when it comes to restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

It is not a big difference, but you will probably notice it during the first weeks of your stay.

Finally, the city is not that big from a geographical perspective. You do need a car to get around. I suggest hiring bikes. It only costs a couple of euro and the entire process of hiring a bike is completely automated.

My advice for improving your French while in Lyon

Let us go through some important factors:

  • Do your homework directly after the lessons. Okay, you will likely meet many new friends and you will likely chat after the lessons. But after this, make sure to do your homework as soon as possible. This will help you progress faster.
  • You just need to write down the key takeaways from the lessons. If you have already done so during the class, make sure to bullet point the most important parts.
  • Try to speak French with your classmates. I know for a fact that many students tend to speak English after the lessons. I was one of them. This is a big mistake. You have come to France to learn French, not to speak English with your fellow students.
  • Try to find an environment where you are forced to speak French. You can for instance consider the things that you like doing in your country. It is definitely a good idea to continue with your hobby in Lyon as it will probably include spending time with native speakers.
  • You need to get over your fear of speaking in front of people. The other students and the teacher will help you if you cannot find the right words. It is very important to actually speak the language that you are trying to learn. This is very basic advice, but I have noticed that it holds true for many students.
  • Consider going in the winter. It is easier to find accommodation and it is usually cheaper. Lyon is a popular city and the prices will be higher during the winter.
  • Finally, I would suggest staying at least three months. It takes time to get used to daily life and you will definitely make more progress if you stay several months.

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