Strasbourg: perfect for study abroad in France
Strasbourg favors a full linguistic immersion experience. With an urban population of just 400,000, of which 10% are university students, it has an intimate feel. Unlike larger cities Strasbourg has few American students and tourists. You will have to use your French every day to get by. Mais ne t'en fais pas! Strasbourg is an open, friendly city where you will feel welcome, even if you haven't mastered the subjunctive yet.
It's a historical and cultural gem
The Grand’Ile island in the center of town is a UNESCO world heritage site containing the tallest cathedral in France, nine museums, and the 16th century Petite France quarter. Strasbourg was where Rouget de l'Isle wrote La Marseillaise and Gutenberg invented the printing press. Throughout the year, there are more festivals, conferences, concerts and theater performances than you could possibly attend. The biggest is of course the marché de Noël which has been held on the place Broglie every December since 1570. Strasbourg is also within easy traveling distance of the Vosges mountains, the Black Forest, the cities of Colmar, Nancy, Basel and Baden-Baden, and just 2½ hours from the center of Paris on the TGV high-speed train. See the map below
It's a cosmopolitan European capital
Located on the French border with Germany, midway between Paris and Prague, Strasbourg has been a crossroads of people and ideas for centuries. The city has gone back and forth five times between France and Germany. It was home to Goethe, Pasteur, Marc Bloch and Jean Calvin. The Université de Strasbourg is the largest in France, attracting students from all over Europe. Today, Strasbourg is the seat of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. It is one of only 3 cities in the world (the others are New York and Geneva) that are international capitals without also being national capitals. Heads of state are frequent visitors, and their appearances at the European institutions are open to the public. In the past few years, Strasbourg hosted Mahmoud Abbas (president of the Palestinian Authority), David Cameron (prime minister of the UK), Angela Merkel (Chancelor of Germany), François Hollande (President of France) and Ibrahim Keïta (President of Mali).
It's safe and liveable
Discover Strasbourg and discover la vie à l'européenne. Strasbourg is much safer than a city of similar size in the United States. There are as many bicycles as cars on the streets, and most of the center of the city is reserved for pedestrians. Be prepared to wear out your shoes. Strasbourg is beautiful and easy to walk around in. The university, the Accès office and most host family apartments are all located within close walking distance of the center. If you prefer, you can hop on a tram to get across town.