The best intensive courses to learn French in France

If you want a fast way to improve your French, an intensive French course might just be the perfect solution. These courses feature a significant number of hours of French classes per day during a relatively short period of time, usually between one week and two months. Many also offer opportunities for language immersion.

There are many such courses out there, but which one is the best one for you? Here’s a comparison of five highly recommended intensive French courses located in France to help you choose the one that can help take your French abilities to the next level.

What is an intensive French course?

Female student with backpack, books, and notebook

Taking an intensive French course means learning French for several hours – usually at least 5 hours, but often more – per day, in a classroom setting. Most schools that offer them have courses for all levels, from beginner to advanced and teachers used to students of all backgrounds. Some of these courses are for children but most are for adults.

There are online intensive French courses, but for most learners, it’s better to take an in-person course, so that you’re fully focused and have opportunities to experience French conversation and culture outside classes.

In addition to the exposure you’ll get to everyday French simply by being in France, some intensive French courses also offer specific French immersion opportunities. In these programs, in addition to classes, students will do other things to keep them speaking and hearing French constantly. For instance, students might get to live with a French family while they’re in France.

How much does an intensive French course cost?

Most intensive French courses that are based in France cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on factors like how long they last. In most cases, you’ll also have additional expenses for things like transportation to and from France, food and housing costs on-site, and any travel you might want to do on your days off.

This means that an intensive French course in France isn’t an inexpensive option, although there may be ways to cut costs (for instance, opting for the least costly housing option or a homestay). But in a way, this high price may be a good thing, since the investment could motivate you to stay focused and learn.

Which is the best course to learn French in France?

Blonde woman with a leather backpack stands and looks at a building façade

There are a number of intensive French courses out there. Many of them are offered by respected institutions, and each one has a slightly different schedule, set of activities and learning opportunities, and, well, vibe. So the best question is which course is best for you.

Consider your hopes and expectations. Do you want to have a truly “intense” intensive experience, taking as many classes as possible, or do you want a more relaxed (although still pretty intense, as the word “intensive” suggests) experience? Do you want the opportunity to do a homestay or immersion experience as well? Does the location in France matter to you – for instance, is it important for you to be in a big city like Paris or Lyon, or would you prefer a smaller city or town?

In addition to all of this, keep in mind that it’s possible that none of the intensive French courses on our list would be the best one for you. French Together focuses on French as it’s spoken in mainland France, so our list only includes intensive French courses offered in France. If you want to learn a different type of French, you should take a course in another country, instead. Luckily, you can take intensive courses in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and many more French-speaking countries and regions around the world.

If you don’t end up choosing one of the intensive French courses on our list, make sure that you check out the company or organization offering a course that interests you, to make sure it’s legit. Read reviews as well. You can use our list as a guidepost for other things you should be sure you’ll get (number of class hours, immersion opportunities, etc.).

Where is the best place to study French?

There are intensive French schools and programs in French-speaking countries around the world. The best place to learn French would be the one where people speak the kind of French you want to speak.

Also, it’s important to decide where you’d be happiest and most focused. For instance, I’ve always liked big cities, but I know lots of people who feel stressed or intimidated by them and who would probably prefer to stay and study in a smaller city or even a village. On the other hand, some students might feel bored in a small village. And if travel opportunities on the weekends are important, not being located in an area where it’s easy to get to places you want to see could also be a disadvantage.

So with this in mind, there is no hard and fast answer. The best place for you to learn French may not be the same as it would be for someone else. Consider your French learning needs and personal preferences.

The five best intensive French courses in France

Students in a crowded classroom, taking notes

Here’s our list of the five best courses to learn French in France.

Accord École de Langues

Levels offered: All levels

Course length: 1-13+ weeks, depending on which course you choose.

Course hours per week: 3-35, depending on which course you choose.

Are accommodations available through the school?: No.

Perks: Flexible course length options. Accredited test prep and administration for French exams like the DELF.

Based in Paris, Accord École de Langues offers a wide range of French courses for all levels and ages. The school is highly accredited and is officially licensed to administer tests like the DELF and DALF. Among all of the courses they offer are intensive and super-intensive French courses.

The school’s website presents its courses in a clear, informative way, all while having a fun vibe about it. And honestly, studying French in Paris does seem like a fun and lively way to do it, if this Paris lover does say so herself!

Best for: Highly motivated students and/or students who need to take certain French exams (DELF, etc.), and who want to study in Paris.

Cœur de France Language School

Levels offered: All levels

Course length: Can be 1 to 8 weeks

Course hours per week: 17-20, with a possibility of up to 3 hours of private tutoring, depending on the option you choose.

Are accommodations available through the school?: Yes.

Perks: Classes incorporate real-life practice in a French village.

Many students who’ve taken Cœur de France’s classes speak highly of the school, but the real appeal of Cœur de France doesn’t just come from the classroom – it’s the way the school uses its location in the small, charming French village of Sancerre to reinforce things that you learn.

The school’s website describes it this way: “After a couple of hours, your teacher may turn to you, give you some coins, and ask you to go to the boulangerie for some bread, the post office for some stamps, or ask directions from a stranger, etc. The teacher accompanies you and discreetly observes your experience. Later, you discuss the experience in class.” 

For what it’s worth, if I were going to take an intensive French course, this is the one I would probably choose. I really love how the town of Sancerre is basically a part of the classroom.

Best for: People who want to immediately apply their French learning in real life situations (in a charming French village, no less).

Alliance Française intensive French courses

Levels offered: All levels

Course length: Depends on the Alliance Française location, but 4 weeks tends to be the average, although some locations offer courses as short as 1 week.

Course hours per week: Generally 20 hours a week, but can vary depending on location.

Are accommodations available through the school?: No.

Perks: Lots of locations to choose from. Some locations also offer additional activities and French culture workshops.

If you’ve been studying French for a while, you’re probably familiar with the name “Alliance Française”. This international organization tries to promote French language and culture around the world. The Alliance Française has many branches based in France, and most of them offer intensive French courses.  Many are also certified test prep and testing sites for exams like the DELF. In addition to classes, the organization also offers French culture-related workshops, as well as activities and special events.

Although the organization has an excellent reputation when it comes to all things French, it’s hard to see it as a single unit when it comes to its intensive French courses. This is because each location that offers these seems to have different course durations, schedules, number of weekly class hours, etc. So if you’re interested in taking an intensive French course with the Alliance Française, check what’s on offer in the French city where you’d most like to learn. If you don’t like that option, check another location to see if it’s more what you were looking for.  

Best for: Someone who wants the option to study just about anywhere in France and is interested in cultural activities and excursions as well as classes.

The CAVILAM

Levels offered: All levels

Course length: From 1 to 35 weeks

Course hours per week: 19.5 hours a week for the intensive course, 24 hours per week plus workshops and 6 private lessons for the super intensive course. Other options vary

Are accommodations available through the school?: Yes.

Perks: A lot of course options to choose from, as well as extras like homestay and immersion opportunities.

Based in Vichy and affiliated with the Alliance Française, the CAVILAM (short for Centre d’Approches Vivantes des Langues et des Médias) ) is a school with decades of experience and thousands of former students. The CAVILAM’s intensive French course offerings are varied, and can last anywhere from 1 to 35 weeks. The school is also proud to say that a new round of courses starts every Monday, making it easy for anyone to start when they’re ready.

The CAVILAM offers a few different kinds of intensive French courses, including a super intensive option. There are French immersion and homestay options as well. Speaking of “options”, if you prefer to stay on your own rather than with a host, the school offers housing on-site or in the area.

The CAVILAM has garnered a lot of positive reviews from former students. The only complaint I’ve come across is that some have found its location, the small city of Vichy, in the heart of France, to be a bit remote and not as lively as other French cities. That said, many other students have found Vichy itself to be an interesting, charming place.

Best for: Someone looking for an established school located in a smaller French city, with varied course options (including its super intensive course, one of the most rigorous intensive courses on our list)).

Cours de civilization française de la Sorbonne

Levels offered: A1-C2

Course length: About 3 and a half months.

Course hours per week: 20 hours of classes, plus 5 hours of phonetics, as well as optional workshops.

Are accommodations available through the school?: No.

Perks: An academic approach to French from a respected university. Cultural workshops are a nice perk, too.

Like any university worth its salt, the Sorbonne (based in Paris) offers a number of French language and civilization courses. Among these are intensive French courses for levels A1-C2.

But there is a downside. Because the Sorbonne is within the school system, their intensive French courses last a semester (about 3 and a half months), rather than having a flexible length or start time.

But if you can spend a semester’s worth of time living abroad and studying French, the Sorbonne’s course seems more than worthwhile. In addition to 20 hours a week of classes focusing on French grammar, vocabulary, writing, and reading, there are also French culture workshops and 5 weekly hours of phonetics courses.  

Best for: Someone who can live abroad for a semester and wants to take an academic approach to French learning.

Will an intensive French course make me fluent in French?

Librairie la Page, a French bookstore in London

With its intense rhythm and rather high stakes (you’re supposed to be in class, in person, every day the school is open, and you’ve also invested a lot of money to be there), an intensive French course can be a great way to get a solid foundation for your French, or even to reach a level of proficiency or fluency. But unfortunately, learning a language doesn’t stop, not even when you become a fluent speaker.

Once your intensive French course ends, if you don’t keep practicing, you’ll eventually lose that level you’ve achieved, and maybe even forget most of what you’ve learned entirely. Luckily, nowadays it’s easy to keep up with your French. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can easily keep reading, listening to, and watching things in French – often for free. The same goes for finding native French speakers to talk to.

Speaking of conversation, you should also engage in active learning as much as possible. To keep your skills sharp, at least from time to time, using a French app is a great idea. As you probably know if you’ve tried some or have read my reviews here, there are all sorts of French learning apps, each one focusing on a particular aspect of or approach to French. For instance, if you want to practice or brush up on your conversational French skills, the French Together app could be the perfect solution.


However you choose to learn and practice French, I wish you bonne chance et bonne continuation in your journey!

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Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.