Study Abroad - Aix Housing

Living in a French homestay is both a challenging an enriching experience, as students must learn to adapt to the family's personal and cultural lifestyles, which are naturally quite different from student's own habits.

IAU’s hosts come from a cross section of society; some are families with young or grown children, others are single retirees. Some work busy schedules while others may spend most of their days at home. Some of our hosts have several rooms that they rent out to students, and some have just one room.

Hosts are selected for their interest in sharing a cultural exchange with students, and I
AU alumni consistently remark on the growth and insight offered by the homestay experience. Students must be flexible and accepting within their French household, and will in all likelihood find the attitude rewarded. 

French Homestay

Host Family FAQs

We answer some of the most common questions below, and you can read about additional housing guidelines here.

How are students matched to hosts? 
Placements are based on responses to the housing questionnaire and the hosts’ profile. Specific needs such as a pet-free home due to allergies, dietary restrictions or medical needs will be given first priority in the matching process. Other preferences are taken into account but cannot be guaranteed. Housing coordinators make periodic visits to the homestays to be sure that the cleanliness and comfort meet IAU's standards.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
Housing assignments will be emailed out to students one week before the official program arrival day. To allow us the flexibility in getting our students settled, housing assignments often have to be made shortly before the semester begins, and therefore cannot be sent sooner. Housing is reserved from the official arrival day (i.e. the Saturday) prior to the beginning of orientation until 12 noon on the day after the last exam.

Will my host family speak English?

All students are placed in French-speaking families. Based on the students' responses to the housing questionnaire, the Housing Coordinator works to place students with no French background in homestays where the host is familiar with English, but students should not expect their host to be fluent in English. Students enrolled in a semester program are required to take a French course during the semester which facilitates communication between students and their hosts. 

How far from the city will my host live?
The homestays are an average of 25-minute walk from classes. Students living farther out will receive free bus passes each month. 

Do I need to pack sheets/towels?
Linens are provided for students during their time abroad. Students should bring a towel if they plan to take it to the beach or to hostels. 

What if I have a food allergy?
Students are requested to indicate allergies (food or otherwise) in the housing questionnaire portion of the online application. Hosts are notified ahead of time and work with students to ensure that appropriate food and beverage are available to them during their time abroad. Students are encouraged to research vocabulary about their allergies prior to arriving in France so that they can effectively communicate with restaurants and servers as well as their host family. Students are also encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider prior to arrival abroad to ensure that they are prepared to manage their allergy while abroad.
Will I have my own bedroom?
Some host families have single bedrooms for host students, but most students are paired with other American and international students in homes. Students often find that being in a home stay with another student facilitates conversations and allows for easier cultural exchange. Students have the opportunity to indicate preferences in the housing questionnaire of the online application, though such preferences cannot be guaranteed. 

Will I have my own bathroom?
Most likely not. Appartments and houses in France are much smaller than in the U.S., so students should be prepared for small living quarters, and sharing a bathroom with their host. 

When can I move in/when do I have to move out?
Move-in and move-out dates are indicated in the student’s acceptance letter from IAU. If a student needs to arrive earlier or depart later than those dates, it is their responsibility to arrange for alternative accommodations, and the student should not expect to move into the homestay early. 

What is a typical French meal?
Meals in France vary widely from family to family. We encourage students to research different cuisines and be open-minded when trying new foods. A typical breakfast includes fruit, yogurt, bread, cereal, tea or coffee. Dinners include many vegetables and are usually light, as lunch is the biggest meal of the day in France. Your host family will introduce you to their typical family meals, and you will be able to indicate allergies in the housing questionnaire of your online application. Be aware that dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten or lactose-free) limit the availability of hosts, so students must be prepared to compromise on other housing preferences.

What is the weather like in Aix?
Aix has a typically Mediterranean climate; warmer in the summer around 80-90F and cooler in the winter around 40-50F. It is a dryer climate because of ‘Le Mistral’ wind that comes down the Rhone Valley. Students should research yearly averages and pack accordingly. Homes in Aix are heated in the winter, but air conditioning is not typical in France or Europe at large.

Will I have a curfew?
Students do not have a curfew but are required to communicate their plans so that host families can plan their day. Students are expected to be quiet and respectful, particularly in the early morning and late night hours so as not to disrupt their hosts or neighbors. Students are required to inform their hosts if they do not plan to eat a regularly scheduled meal with them or if they plan to be away from home for a night. This is for student safety so their hosts know where they are in case of emergency.

Can I have friends/family stay with me when they visit?
Students should not expect their host to accommodate visiting friends and family. A list of suggested hotels for guests can be found on the Travel Logistics page of our website.

Student Reviews of homestays

"Just as the friendly people at IAU had said that first orientation day, the unfamiliar things became the familiar... the strangers I lived with became family."
- Sydnee Greenberg

"My  homestay experience opened my ears to the French language, my nose to the Provencal cooking, and my heart to new people, whom I soon referred to as my family for four short months." 
- Mary Claire Gustafson

Lunch at a local bakery

Independent Living

IAU does not offer independent housing; if students choose to rent an apartment those arrangements will have to be made on your own. Be aware that apartments are hard to find in a crowded university town such as Aix-en-Provence and rent is very high. One month’s rent, plus a deposit equal to one, sometimes two, months’ rent (reimbursed if there are no outstanding bills or damage at the end of your stay) must be paid in advance to the apartment owner. Heating, electricity, gas, and telephone are additional. Those in independent housing will also not be provided with linens or cookware. For students who choose this situation, it is best that arrangements be made before arriving in France, as housing can be difficult to find after arrival.