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5 Reasons to Study Business in France

5 Reasons to Study Business in France main image

Ah, la France! A land with as much to offer les artistes as for les hommes d'affaires, France is a world leader in the spheres of both culture and business. Indeed, not only is Paris world-renowned as the ‘City of Lights’, it’s also home to Europe’s largest purpose-built business district. This ‘best of both worlds’ quality goes a long way to explaining why the country draws in so many aspiring international students.

According to UNESCO statistics, France is the world’s third most popular destination for international students, and the most popular non-Anglophone international student destination. France’s higher education system is widely known for its prowess in the humanities and arts, but it’s also well-established among the best places to study business and management courses. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard so far, read on for five reasons why studying business in France could signal the start of la belle vie for you…

1. Some of the world’s most prestigious business schools

Many of France’s business schools (or écoles de commerce) stand among the global elite. In the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015, the new business and management ranking features a strong performance for France, with INSEAD ranked third worldwide. And in the latest QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, two of the top five business schools in Europe are French (INSEAD and HEC Paris).

Beyond these top rankers, many other French business schools also claim strong global reputations.  Institutions such as SKEMA Business School, located on the famed French Riviera, are highly regarded worldwide, often having longstanding international links. Meanwhile schools such as EM Normandie have a strong focus on local ties, drawing on links with regional industries to provide a business curriculum with a strong emphasis on workplace experience.

With a huge selection of dedicated business schools across France, there’s guaranteed to be a program and a location to interest you.

2. A dynamic, opportunity-rich economy

The French economy is huge. As of 2014 it was the third largest in Europe and the second largest in the eurozone. As mentioned earlier, Paris boasts Europe’s largest purpose-built business district, La Défense, a cluster of sleek skyscrapers home to some of the continent’s largest companies. AXA, Total, Carrefour, PSA Peugeot Citroën… the list of leading French businesses goes on, spanning a wide range of different sectors.

It’s well known that France in general and Paris in particular are considered world centers for fashion. France is also the second-largest exporter of agricultural products and services worldwide, one of the world’s largest investors in research and development, and a global leader in telecommunications. Like “The City” district of London, big firms gravitate towards La Défense, especially those working in the financial services. Nonetheless, their presence can be felt across France. This means a promising selection of exciting companies at which to seek internships while you study – and perhaps even at which to launch your career after graduation.

3. An abundance of natural beauty

One of the reasons France is such a popular destination among tourists is that it is simply a beautiful land. From the ancient grandeur of the monastery-fortress Mont Saint-Michel to the wild, rural splendor of the Limousin region, France has sights to please all tastes.

As it happens, many French universities and business schools are located in very scenic areas. EM Normandie has a number of campuses across Normandy’s Côte Fleurie (Flowery Coast), while students at Parisian business schools may even get a view of the Eiffel Tower from their classrooms!  The south of France, and particularly the French Riviera, is renowned for its sun, sea and spectacular coastline. This region is home to SKEMA Business School’s  Sophia-Antipolis campus, and much more.  Although it is technically a different country, the ritzy city-state of Monaco is also on the south coast.  If you want to live the life of luxury associated with this famously rich city, consider studying your degree at the International University of Monaco!

France is a feast for the eyes. Outdoorsy individuals will adore the rolling hills and dramatic mountains its interior has to offer, while urbanites can bask in the cosmopolitan glory of Paris’ regal architecture – not to mention the city’s disproportionately high population of statuesque models… And of course, given France’s storied past, history buffs will have more castles, mansions and courts to visit than they have time for.

4. Develop your French language skills

French is one of the most widely spoken languages worldwide. Not only is it one of the official languages of the United Nations, but there are 29 countries where French is an official language.  From Canada to Comoros, Madagascar to Monaco, French is a language that opens doors. After all, it’s spoken and understood by roughly 274 million people…

In order to study business in France, you’ll usually need at least a bit of French language comprehension – and of course you’ll need to be fluent if you plan to study your entire degree in French. However, there are a growing number of degrees taught in English at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Courses with English as the language of instruction are more common at master’s and MBA level. EM Normandie, for example, offers four 100% English-taught master’s degrees. Other institutions provide options to study in even more languages, with ESCE International Business School offering courses taught in different languages depending on the specialization. Many business schools, including ESCE, offer students courses to help improve their French while they study.

It is less common for undergraduate courses to be taught in English. There are exceptions though, including SKEMA Business School’s Bachelor in Global Management. SKEMA has a big focus on international business in its curriculum – and as a general rule, more ‘international’ schools are more likely to teach classes in English.

No matter what language your degree is taught in, knowing some French before you arrive will come in handy, just for day-to-day life. Being immersed in a language is the best way to learn it, so if you make an effort, you could end up becoming fluent – a hugely valuable asset for your future career options and personal life.

5. Become immersed in the cultural wealth of France

What is the first thing you think of when France comes to mind? Even if its economy and top universities do feature, surely your first thoughts would be of the artists, great thinkers, fine wine and gourmet food France has given to the world?

In the French hall of fame, philosophers and scholars like Voltaire rub shoulders with scientific pioneers such as Marie Curie, as well as modern master chef Raymond Blanc. These are just three names from a list far too long to fit into one article. France is also home to leading minds in fashion, art, literature and much more. Unfortunately there’s no guarantee you’ll meet any of them… but you’d have a hard time missing their great works.

France is criss-crossed with grand museums and galleries, of which the most famous is surely the Louvre. If art isn’t your scene, trek out to one of the country’s vineyards and enjoy the (fermented) fruits of their labors. If you’re looking for something to do during your winter break, look no further than an adrenaline-soaked ski trip to the French Alps! Many universities and business schools organize ski trips for students, which are almost always far more affordable than going independently.

Oceans of ink have been spent praising France’s many virtues (this is online, so technically it doesn’t count towards that total…), and for good reason. So, to reiterate:  study business in France and you’ll have a huge selection of innovative courses and respected institutions to choose from, along with an exciting selection of international companies to intern at. While living in France, you’ll have the chance to acquire highly valuable French language skills, and never be more than a short trip away from some sort of cultural offering, awe-inspiring sight, or taste bud-teasing delight.

If this hasn’t convinced you about the benefits of studying business in France, we don’t know what will!

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Written by Ben Clayton

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I'm Egyptian studying Business and Management in AAST in Egypt and by the end of my college years (i'll graduate next year) i want to do master's in France. What are my chances? How can i apply?

Hi Dahlia, our complete guide on how to study abroad in France should help get you started, and I'd also suggest checking the official websites of the French universities you're interested in to see how eligible you are for their programs. Our course finder should also be useful for finding the right program for you. Hope this helps!