Nantes study abroad photo of the moat and grass at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne



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Located on the Loire River, Nantes—France’s sixth largest city—has all the amenities of a big city: world-class museums, breathtaking cathedrals, a great public transportation system, and even its own château. But the best thing about Nantes for study abroad? It’s small enough to feel like home.

Before long, you’re blending in with local residents and university students, and saying “bonjour” to the shop keepers you pass on your way to class every day. This livable, accessible, and exciting city was the official EU 2013 Green Capital. It’s something to celebrate when you study abroad in Nantes and can get around easily on the bus, tram, or by foot.

Immerse yourself in French language and culture in this city full of history and vibrant city life. You won’t want to leave. Dreaming of French food, culture, and city life?

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Nantes - French Language Immersion & Area Studies

Fall 2019, Spring 2020
Language prerequisites: 
4 or more semesters of college-level French
Estimated Cost: 
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Nantes's Top Five

Sample the Delicacies of Nantes

For instance, try the galettes de blé noir, savory buckwheat crêpes filled with eggs, cheese, and ham.

Shop the Passage Pommeraye

Named because it serves as a link between two streets, this spectacularly ornate and elaborate little shopping mall is stunning, whether you’re here to shop or just passing through.

Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne

With beautiful gardens surrounding the moat and a fascinating museum of Nantes’ history inside, this impressive castle is a must see.

Cruise Down the River

Since Nantes is right on the Loire River, a scenic boat cruise down the estuary to the nearby Atlantic Ocean is a great way to spend a few hours.

Ride the Great Elephant at Les Machines de L'Ile de Nantes

This collection of gigantic and whimsical mechanical beasts is something you’ll only find here in Nantes.

Take a Virtual Tour

overhead view of Nantes

Click to launch the virtual tour.

The Latest from Nantes


It’s not au revoir, it’s à bientôt!

by Genevieve

The last week in Nantes I found myself on a boat along the Erdre River, in a room filled with host families, and in a University professor’s office, offloading all I knew about women in politics in the modern era. It was—you guessed it—finals week, and our last week here! The last week of the semester in college is a notoriously stressful and complex time—you’re bombarded with papers, tests, or presentations; you’re preparing for all these; and you’re trying to see all your friends one last time. But, while this week carried the usual stressors of test-taking, it was also a very enjoyable week of last goodbyes with the IES Abroad friends that I now consider a family.

Last Friday, we had our farewell dinner (on a boat) on the Erdre river. Everyone dressed their best and we enjoyed a full four-course meal. We had such a good time, I don’t think anyone noticed it was raining outside. After we’d eaten, everyone migrated towards the front of the boat where there was a pocket-sized floor space in front of the two live musicians, which we enthusiastically maximized for busting dance moves! Even our director joined us.

Last Friday, Monday and Thursday, I had written exams. Tuesday, I had an oral presentation at the University. In between studying for all these, I tried my hardest to soak up the beautiful sun in Nantes a few final moments through walks in the park or food with friends. I paused in the middle of Place Graslin to admire the people perched on the Opera steps, the kids running around the fountain, and old friends enjoying the end of the afternoon with drinks on the patio outside La Molière. I will miss the daily whir of the city with all its beauty, quirks, and sounds.

Thursday evening, we had a reception at IES Abroad for all the host families. The library and one of the classrooms were opened up and hors d’œuvres, drinks, and desserts were artistically splayed out on the tables. IES Abroad was bustling with all kinds of host families—older parents, younger parents, teenage siblings, and a few babies, too. For each IES Abroad student, our host family had a huge impact on our experience in Nantes. It was who we saw each evening, whose experiences framed our first view of Nantes, and who witnessed our most honest questions, confusions, and breakthrough moments of understanding. It was really special to see all these people converge together. Our class presidents, TJ and Matthew, spoke, as well as M. de Berranger with final words and accolades for the semester.

Feeling like a weighed-down turtle with all my luggage, I was packed and ready to go Saturday. After a relaxing morning of coffee and reflection together, my host mom drove me to the train station. Our final goodbye didn’t feel sad, but hopeful. I have a feeling I’ll be back at some point in my life, and I’ll be sure to see her.

It was an overall wonderful semester, by far my favorite in college. I grew as a public speaker, having given oral presentations in every class (in French) and having taught four classes of middle and high schoolers every week. I grew in my confidence of French language, of course. A question often asked by others as a measurement of language acquisition, I suppose, is if you dream or think in French. I would say yes. By the end of the semester, my host mother said my accent was imperceptible and I sounded truly French. I wouldn't say that I am fluent by any means, but I had improved a lot since January. I felt that as the semester went on we were able to have longer, richer, and deeper conversations, and I felt a sense of pride in that. I also grew in my understanding of how others live, as I was able to meet so many people—from the U.S. and France, but from many other places as well, all convened in Nantes. So many of the lessons I’m bringing home I may not fully realize until much later, but I know that I see things differently.

Was every moment wonderful? No, and it would be dishonest to say there weren’t many challenging moments, moments of utter confusion, loneliness, or distress in this semester. But with those also came incredible moments of learning, of carving deeper relationships with others, and of realizing my abilities and all that I was capable of. Yet, valuable, thrilling, profound memories—some of the best, ever—did certainly transpire in these past four months.

In these first few days back in the U.S., I was able to converse in French with my grandmother (from Québec), and I loved that I was finally able to connect with her in that way. She told me that she noticed I was more confident, and I smiled, because I agreed.

As for all the incredible friends I made, it will not be long before we see each other again. For all the people I met in IES Abroad and in Nantes, I will remember them all fondly forever, whether our paths cross again or not. I will be grateful for every single conversation, laugh, and lesson we’ve experienced together. And I’m grateful for IES Abroad, which was an amazing program, for bringing all of these people together.

It’s not au revoir, it’s à bientôt!

I’m hoping some of these photos will help to supplement my words in conveying all the emotions that four months abroad bring. Enjoy!

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A Day in the Life: Nantes

by Genevieve

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from study abroad, it’s that no day is the same. Each weekday and weekend brings new discoveries, changes, and events, and the key to enjoying the experience abroad is to embrace all those. In the United States, I find that my life is very mapped out between Google Calendar, meeting reminders, a regular alarm, and almost every hour of the day booked for something. Here in Nantes, it’s completely different. I rely on Google Calendar to remember class times, but for the most part, each day has a lot of freedom with which I can fill with time with friends, outdoors, or studying. So, here I’ve laid out what an average Friday might look like, because it helps to show the variance of activities I might have.

7:30 a.m.—My alarm goes off. I usually calculate more time than necessary in the mornings, so I might not get up right away. I’ll take a shower, make my bed, and get ready for the day.

8:15 a.m.—In my host family’s kitchen, I’ll make a simple breakfast of toast with jam. My host mother works in the evenings, so she will typically rise later than me in the mornings. I enjoy the independence in the mornings, and enjoy taking time in sipping my coffee slowly, admiring the bustle outside the kitchen window as people head to work and kids scooter past.

9:00 a.m.—I leave my apartment for the IES Abroad Center, where I have class. Some days I take the bus, but most days I walk because the route is lovely. I pass boulangeries, shops, gardens, and cute homes. The commute to walk is about 18 minutes, and at that hour might take equal time on the busy bus. When I do take the bus, I use Moovit, a very helpful app that calculates all the possible transportation routes in Nantes and is usually very reliable.

9:30 a.m.—My first class: French Grammar. It is a class of 14 American students. We meet in one of the classrooms of the IES Abroad Center for 1.5 hours Monday and Friday mornings. Usually, the class takes place here. Last week we happened to have a field trip to the Marche du Talensac (a permanent fish/meat/farmer’s market) where we had the opportunity to talk to many of the food vendors and ask questions. The class is usually based around grammar exercises, conversation, writing, and giving oral presentations, all to improve our language skills. All my classes are conducted completely in French.

11:00 a.m.—My second class: Sociology, Contemporary French Society. This is an even smaller class of four people, as IES Abroad Nantes is a relatively small program. In this way, it has become very interactive. We’ve covered topics of unemployment, immigration, women, education, and family structures in France, typically discussing the last 50 years or so. A few weeks ago we took a field trip to the Archives in Nantes to look at immigration documents to Nantes from the past 150 years. We were toured through their extensive basement of files, some of which are up to 600 years old. Last week we also went to a trial at the Palace of Justice (court house) in Nantes to see the justice system in France. We watched the hearing of a man who was being tried for stealing goods from a number of stores in Nantes. All the judges wore robes, and while it was a bit challenging to follow the technical law jargon in French, it was an interesting experience.

12:45 p.m.—My stomach starts to growl. Sometimes, I’ll make lunch in the IES Abroad kitchen from ingredients I’ve bought for the week. However, I often go to a boulangerie with friends to buy a sandwich or quiche. There is one located right down the street from the IES Abroad Center, so we’ll go there to pick up our lunches (and sometimes a dessert as well) and return to the Center kitchen to eat together.

1:30 p.m.—I head to my internship as an English teaching assistant in a local middle/high school, St. Stanislas. This was an opportunity offered through IES Abroad to learn more about education in France and gain experience as well. Four hours a week (two hours Monday and two hours Friday), I go to St. Stanislas and teach or assist English classes. We also have a two-hour pedagogy course on Wednesdays for all the IES Abroad interns to discuss the education system and our experiences. This Friday, I head to the school to work with the older kids, Troisième (14 years old) and Première (16 years old). I come with a presentation prepared and typically a worksheet or activity to do altogether as a class, which I’ve planned after discussion with the professor. This week, I bring a presentation about daily activities in the U.S., then I have the students work on small skits where they discuss their days. Each class is about 50 minutes long.

4:00 p.m.—My classes for the day are done. If I have errands to do such as mailing postcards or refilling my phone plan for the month, I’ll try to get some of those done, and then I’ll head home.

4:30 p.m.—When I get home, I might grab a small snack, then check some emails and do some work before the weekend begins. Then, I’ll probably take a short nap because I’m a big fan.

6:00 p.m.—Around this time, my friends and I will plan to meet up for the evening on a usual Friday. While restaurants typically don’t open in Nantes until around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., we might get together sooner than that to hang out, or if there is an event. One of my favorite evenings with my friends was when we had a picnic on the banks of the Erdre River. I took the bus downtown, then the tram to meet them. That evening I was with four other American friends and one of our French friends, who also studies at the University of Nantes. We all went to a boulangerie and got some sandwiches to go, then we went to Carrefour (the popular city supermarket) for some cheap cookies or drinks. Then, we set up along the river. Along the Erdre, there are wooden platforms that have been created specifically for people to hang out. At this time of year, it is brimming with people enjoying the warm evening. Sunset in late April is around 9:00 p.m., so there are still many quality hours of daylight. We sat in a circle, ate our food, and played some card games as the sun set. The specific game we played was called “Jungle Speed”, a game requiring card matching and competition amongst friends.

9:45 p.m.—After it got too dark to play the game, we migrated further downtown and decided to go to Le Nid (the nest), a top-floor bar and viewing-point of Nantes. We talked more and caught up from the week.

11:30 p.m.—I take the bus home to my host mother’s apartment. Some days, I might not see her in the evenings, but usually we have dinner and lovely conversation together in the evenings during the week.

12:00 p.m.—I head to bed for the night, anticipating what new adventures the next day might bring.

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Top 10 Study Abroad Instagram Photos from January & February 2019

Are you ready to fall head over heels for study abroad?

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“I think anyone who has the opportunity to not only learn a language and culture but also see incredible sites in Europe should study in Nantes.”

William Y. (Nantes - French Language Immersion & Area Studies)