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(Level C1), and students are encouraged to personalise their own programme. Prices vary depending on the intensity of the course. For example, the General French Class (Level B1, six hours per week) costs €70 and Business French (Level B2, nine hours per week) is €100, while Intensive General French (20 hours per week) starts from €199 if you enrol for 12 weeks or more. It’s possible to start a new class every Monday of the year, except if you’re a true beginner when it comes to speaking French.

In addition, the Alliance

Française Paris Ile-de-France offers a bevy of workshops at €80 each, which are designed to complement your language course. These include Oral French, Learning Grammar with Games, and Art de Vivre à la Française. Package deals, allowing you to combine a French course and a workshop, are also available.

Many students choose to book their own apartments in Paris but Alliance Française has dedicated accommodation staff, to help you with such choices as furnished apartments, hotel residences and home-stays with French families. ● 101 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

+33 1 42 84 90 00

FRENCH WINDOW, NANTES THE OWNER of French Window, Stéphanie Olivier, says “The best way to learn a language is to live it. I think that since my students have travelled all the way to France, it would be a waste to spend all their time learning the French language in a classroom. “Instead, I focus upon intense cultural immersion and experience-based learning through real life situations.”

French Window offers “real world” courses plus excursions to the likes of Clisson

French Window has pioneered a unique concept of short, themed language courses, covering such subjects as gastronomy, heritage, cinema, nature, ‘art de vivre’ and culture. For example, the gastronomy and oenology programme explores the Pays de la Loire region’s rich culinary heritage through cooking classes, excursions to local producers and markets, tastings, and guided tours. “Learning French at French Window is about being totally immersed in authentic French culture on a daily basis,” Olivier explains. “The real world is your classroom: the markets, cafés, shops, museums, châteaux and wine shops.”

A distinct asset is the school’s setting: Nantes is a cool city that’s emerging as one of France’s most exciting destinations. Once the country’s largest port, it occupies a strategic geographic position, where the Loire, France’s longest river, flows into the estuary of the Atlantic. Nantes was named Europe’s Green Capital in 2013

and it’s routinely listed as one of Europe’s most liveable cities. The Nantais are justifiably proud of their city, which is abuzz with new restaurants and large-scale art projects. The former industrial area on the île de Nantes has morphed into a hip hang-out. Where else can you ride a giant mechanical elephant through the city streets? Towering 40-feet tall, the wooden and steel elephant is a whimsical art project conceived by a street theatre troupe. French Window takes advantage of its city-centre location, right next to Le Lieu Unique, a landmark in Nantes. (For more about Nantes, read our feature on page 68). Pre-excursion lessons provide the background material necessary to jump into the real-life situation – for instance a local market. And with small group sizes — they’re never more than eight people — individual attention is guaranteed. “Stéphanie clearly has a love for

the French language and culture, and she is extremely dedicated in sharing it with her students,” says

Viki, a former student. “I appreciated all her efforts and passion; her flexibility by choosing topics to teach us new vocabulary and grammar in a funny and playful way.” The cost of course packages vary, depending on the themed programme you choose. The one-week Craft and Shopping Programme (Level A2) costs €549, while the fortnight-long Nature and Heritage Programme (Level A2/B1) is €1,459. Each programme features 15 hours of tuition on the topic(s) chosen, another 15 hours per week of practical workshops and cultural visits (including all tickets and guided tours), and unlimited local transport. In terms of accommodation, Stéphanie has negotiated good rates with partner residences, and the apartments on offer are conveniently located near the school. Recent university graduates tend to choose the ‘two-star’ option, the Séjours & Affaires Ducs de Bretagne, while older students tend to prefer the four-star Residhome Berges de la Loire. Both options come with free Wi-Fi, fully-equipped kitchens and an office work space. ● 2 allée Baco, 44000 Nantes +33 6 61 32 47 29

A host of cultural activities can be added to Coeur de France courses

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