Approaching Paris


All program participants must arrive in Paris exactly on the arrival date indicated on the Key Dates page. The onsite orientation will provide you with the tools you need to make the most of your time here. It consists of required meetings on academics and life in Paris. You will also have the chance to bond with your Stanford peers and meet the Paris staff and faculty. Usually, a group retreat is planned during the week of orientation. In the past, these have included activities as diverse as culinary challenges, treasure hunting, cruise of the Seine river, biking, trekking and rowing in the counrtryside near Paris.

NOTE: If you choose to arrive early or stay after the end of the program, you are responsible for arranging your own temporary housing.

Accommodations and Meals

Students going to Paris will be housed in private homes. The Stanford staff screens all living situations closely, and the matching process is based both upon the student’s and the host family's statements. All student living arrangements are within the city of Paris and not outside of the city center in suburbs or “banlieues.” A very limited number of host families will allow students access to their kitchen in order to cook for themselves. This option will be decided by the housing coordinator on a case by case basis.

Living with a carefully selected French family is a privileged form of housing that provides the student with the opportunity to establish personal relationships, to use French regularly and to immerse oneself in French culture and tradition on a daily basis. The family is a valuable resource allowing for true integration into a Parisian neighborhood, and life in France. Naturally, all students must accept the constraints and responsibilities that such arrangements entail but the experience is well worthwhile. Whenever possible, the housing coordinator will accommodate students' stated housing preferences in the online orientation form.

Meeting People

The best way to meet locals and become more easily integrated in Parisian life is to get involved in the local scene. Past students have found it particularly rewarding to participate in dance, music or theater classes, cooking lessons, cinema clubs, or sporting activities. The Paris staff can help in finding the right activity for you!

The Paris program offers several academic opportunities for students to go beyond the limits of the Stanford Center proper. Options include interning in French companies, participating in lectures and on-site visits organized by museums and local institutions, or taking classes alongside French students at one of our partner universities. They all represent excellent ways to meet French people and develop both personal and professional relationships.

Particularly rewarding is our Language Partners program. Students are paired with their French counterparts from the ISEP, our host institution, in order to develop in tandem an academic project.

Mentors Program

For several years, Stanford alumni in Paris, mostly French nationals, have offered to give of their time to our students. Some invite students to their homes in Paris, or in the country over the weekend, while others introduce students to their place of work or research. Students may consult the list of available mentors upon arrival in Paris, and select a mentor according to common interests.

City Life

Located on the Seine River, lined with booksellers and street artists, Paris is a compact, pedestrian-friendly city. A stroll through its various neighborhoods, called arrondissements, take you past small shops, elegant hotels, movie theaters, sidewalk cafés, art galleries, patisseries, boulangeries, and restaurants of every cuisine. From haute couture to second-hand bookstores, the city is home to an eclectic, energetic mix.

The formal lines of the city’s 18th-century and 19th-centuy architecture are softened by beautifully landscaped parks and squares. Paris is home to some of the world's most renowned museums—about 130 by one estimate—including the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, in addition to a lively theatrical and cinematic scene. For both its physical beauty and intellectual heritage, Paris has earned the name "City of Light."