Study in Avignon, France



Study in Avignon, France

Provence, southern France, is one of the most famously picturesque regions in all of Europe–it combines magnificent mountains and sparkling coastline, castle walls and quaint medieval villages. Within Provence, however, one place stands out as exceptionally beautiful: the ancient French city of Avignon. With its densely clustered castles and well preserved historic structures, the entire city has the honor of being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
 
No one knows how old Avignon is. It was originally settled by a Celtic tribe known as the Cavari, and it seems that the city's name is derived from their language. An early conquest of the Roman Empire, it changed hands dozens of times during the Middle Ages as the Goths, Burgundians, Franks, and Saracens (Arabs) fought for control of the area. As a result of these conflicts, Avignon has a mixed historical heritage that makes it highly unusual among French cities. During the 14th century, it had a brief tenure as the center of Christendom when the Catholic Pope moved out of Rome and took up residence in the center of Avignon.
 
Today, Avignon is a globally recognized center of culture and the arts, as well as a popular destination for tourists and international students. The city itself is relatively small and comfortable, although during the summer months it may be flooded with tourists. Local residents often close up shop and leave town in the summer to avoid the crowds, and of course students go on vacation at the same time of year.
 
From September to May, however, Avignon is a city more or less like others in France–albeit a bit smaller and noticeably prettier. As a result it is an ideal destination for foreign students hoping to improve their grasp of the French language. Those seeking an immersion in French without the hectic atmosphere of Paris were the sunbathing vacationers of Nice often find that Avignon offers a blend of relaxation and activity, an experience midway between the countryside homestay and the urban apartment life. In addition, its tiny size makes it easy to explore, and many students spend their weekends seeking adventure in the hidden nooks and crannies of the city's medieval buildings. Cars are relatively uncommon in Avignon, as its size makes them unnecessary–locals generally get around by bicycle or by foot.
 
Avignon and has been a notable center of learning for hundreds of years thanks to the University of Avignon. Founded almost 700 years ago, it is counted among the oldest universities in France, although it has changed considerably over the centuries. Today, it is a fairly small school with only 7500 students, yet still offers and passive range of courses. The university is particularly well known for its programs in French, the life sciences, and environmental studies.