University of Tours - Université François-Rabelais
Located in the Loire Valley of France, 1.5 hours Southwest from Paris, Tours is a Roman-Gallic settlement-turned-university town whose foundation was laid long before the establishment of the city's amphitheatre in the 1st century.
Founded in 1969, the Université François Rabelais (University of Tours) has seven campuses distributed across the city, with the main campus for French literature, Tanneurs, located right along the banks of the Loire. The French spoken in the Loire Valley region is often regarded as one of the best for language learners to pick up due to its ideal "purity" of pronunciation.
First come, first considered for remaining spaces!
University-specific additional requirements
One academic reference required - see the Eligibility section below.
Open Nov. 1, 2020
Areas of Study: Art, Art History, Commerce, Communications, Economics, French (Language & Literature), Geography, Health Sciences, History, Humanities, Languages, Law, Life Sciences, Literature, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and Social Sciences.
Course information can be found online under the Licence (L) icon for each Faculty and then clicking on the specific degree link and then the "Contenu" tab. A list of courses popular with exchange students is also available online.
In Europe, full-time course load is typically 30 ECTS (European credits), and at Tours students are typically expected to take 18-30 credits per semester. 6 ECTS = 3 UCalgary units (1 half-course).
The amount of credits each course is worth corresponds to the workload/contact hours, and can vary from 1-30 ECTS per course, so please be mindful of this in your selection.
Please contact your academic advisor to discuss courses.
Student Tips: "The one great piece of advice I have regarding school supplies is to bring your own paper. The paper that is avidly bought and used by French students is not easy to get used to and looks a little “busy,” compared to North American lined paper."
The academic year is divided into two semesters. Semester 1 runs from early September to mid-January and Semester 2 runs from mid January to mid June. Terms may vary, according to the program of study, but it is possible to finish Semester 1 in December.
Please Note: French visa applications for Canadians may require travel to the Vancouver consulate to submit the documentation and take biometrics as needed within 3 months before departure to France, so students may not have access to their passports during that time.
Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider.
Average monthly costs to study in Tours range from €700-800 on average, which includes rent, transit, food, and some outings/leisure activities. For more information, visit Tours' page on Cost of Living. There is also a lot of helpful information on money and opening a French bank account on their Managing your Budget page.
Tours cost comparison vs. Calgary: Click Here
Also, don't forget to include things like visas, insurance, vaccinations etc in your budget planning. All students on exchange in France will have to pay roughly €215 for French social security on arrival, which covers some costs of medical care, but comprehensive travel medical coverage will still be required.
Student Tips: "The overall cost of living compared to Calgary was pretty equivalent. However, one major difference is that food and services for students are reduced to be affordable and inexpensive. Cell phone plans in France are also generally very good and very cheap compared to Calgary. I used a phone company called Free and found them to be the most practical company for plans for exchange students. They offer non-contract plans and unlimited calling to 150 destinations including Canada, so it was very easy to call home. They also include data usage in these destinations so it’s very useful when travelling to other countries beyond your host country during your exchange."
"I opened a bank account in France and I would recommend it. I found it to be a lot easier to access my money with a local bank account, even though my Canadian bank account had partner banks in France and I didn’t get charged for withdrawals. For local online purchases (like train/plane tickets), it was more practical to make them with my French card. I didn’t have too many difficulties with opening the bank account but it took some time to open one (about 3 weeks to get a bank card). They also require about a week’s notice to close the bank account."
"Make sure to budget for additional expenses on arrival - I had to take a medical exam on arrival for my visa, which cost 80 euros. I found that the cost of living in France was comparable and sometimes less expensive than Calgary."
Please Note: French visa applications may require travel to the Vancouver consulate to finalize your student visa and take biometrics as needed - please speak with the exchange advisor as soon as possible about whether this will be required for you.
Students considering significant rail travel in France may want to purchase a Carte Jeune via French National Rail (SNCF), which allows for reduced travel for every journey over a year.
Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange?
Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.
Our office administers the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved UCalgary study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page for more information.
France - Housing Aid
All students in France who rent housing with a contract, regardless of national origin, are eligible for a National Housing Aid from the ‘CAF’, Caisse d’Allocations Familiales. For the subsidy application, please make sure to bring a copy of your birth certificate.
Tours Erasmus+ Canada Award
1+ student each year to be internally nominated for a scholarship of €850 per month for exchanges of 4-12 months, plus travel stipend of €820 towards flights/travel to Tours (approx $5800 CAD total at current conversion for 1 semester of study).
Tours offers a scholarship of 500€ per month for up to 4 months (total value 2000 EUR or ~3000 CAD) for the Fall semester (September-December) or 5 months (total value 2500 EUR or ~3730 CAD) for the Winter semester (January-May).
E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship
The E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship is a generous award of $7500 granted to one outstanding full-time student, registered in any faculty at UCalgary, who has been accepted by us to study for a full academic year (French-taught courses only) on one of our official exchange programs.
Student housing in university residences is available through the Centre Local des Oeuvres Universitaires (C.L.O.U.S.) (https://www.crous-orleans-tours.fr/logements/nos-residences/tours/).
When the accommodation application opens once you have been nominated to Tours, you will rank your top 3 options for residences. Popular options with previous students have been Les Tanneurs (good location to classes) or Rabelais (the newest residence building), both within 10 min (by bike) to the Faculty of Literature and Languages campus. For other areas of study, please speak with the exchange advisor for recommended residences close to your relevant campus.
Should you wish to look into private accommodation options, you will have to find them on your own.
Exchange students in France may be eligible to apply for the Caisse d'Allocations Familiales (CAF), a French social assistance program for housing, and generally student housing costs in France are already far below the average Calgary costs (see costs & funding for details)
Student Tips: "My residence was called “Les Tanneurs.” I had the smallest room available, 9m2, but I found it perfectly fine and is typical of university residences in general. There are two options at Tanneurs – rooms with a private kitchen and rooms without. The bathrooms are all private, though small. There was also a desk/chair, a single bed, a mini fridge, and ample storage space in the form of many shelves, but no bedding included. Bedding and kitchen supplies could be rented from the residences for an extra charge (they will also charge you cleaning fee at the end of the stay for these items). I brought my own bedding and got some kitchen supplies from the donated items from previous students. Everything else that I needed, I got from IKEA. I found that in the end, this worked out to be more economical.
There was wireless internet for the residence and university building, included in the rent. The building itself was the newest offered by the University and there was not much noise as there isn't a study space or common room, but there is a communal kitchen (though it lacked an oven). The microwave and hotplates were sufficient, but baking or any frozen food were not an option. There was no gym and no laundry room on site either (but there is a laundromat across the street).
At almost every single university site there are student cafeterias, including one right in Tanneurs. A meal would cost 3.25 Euros and one would get a piece of bread, cheese, appetizer, fruit or desert and a main entrée. The food was very delicious and very cheaply priced relative to standard costs in France. Tanneurs is also close to the city centre full of bakeries, restaurants and pubs.
Also, the campus for "Lettres et Langues" (like most exchange students that are studying French) was right across the street, so it could not have been more convenient, and I could go ‘home’ in between classes to eat, do homework, etc. The other buildings could be found across the city all over the place, but my building was at the center. I felt completely safe in my living arrangements. It came equipped with a security tag that would open the entrance to the building. We also had a full time secretary and a night guard.
I would recommend [the Tanneurs] residence to any student going to Tours - it was highly desirable and the subject of envy [for my peers]. Though it is more expensive compared to living off-campus, I would recommend it because it was highly practical and everything is prepared for you. I would also recommend the student residence, Helene Boucher. It was more expensive and not as centrally located as mine, but was still a new building that had an excellent interior. Additionally, it is the closest one to the international relations office. I did also have to buy contents insurance for my residence room, but it was only 40€."
"There were recreational facilities available on campus, but one had to purchase the “paque sport,” in order to access them. Rather than one building with everything inside of it, students have to sign up for sports in advance and the time and location of the activity comes later. There is a large library next to “Les Tanneurs,” which is connected to the main university building, free for students. The climate of Tours is far more humid than Calgary. Snow is very rare and the French love it for that reason. The transit, called “Filbleu,” is amazing. Always on time, clean, and brand new. However, be aware of transit strikes because getting around becomes more difficult. For 50€ a month one can purchase a student pass, otherwise it is 1.50€ per ride. I recommend buying the student pass if one’s student residence is far away from the center or if ones classes are very far apart and spread across the city. "
"Tours is much warmer and much more humid than Calgary, so no big winter coats or boots are needed. It doesn’t snow in the winter but can sometimes be rainy. Transit is pretty good in the city, but it does stop around midnight. There are two trams and buses that can take you pretty much anywhere. Bikes are also widely used. I know a few students who were able to buy used ones for about 50 euros. Tours is a pretty small city so it is also possible to just walk everywhere you need to on a day to day basis but this may depend on how far your campus and your accommodation are from each other. Tours is generally a safe city and there aren’t many areas that should be avoided but it is always a good idea to travel with at least one other person, especially at night."
This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at UCalgary, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B).
Courses at Tours are taught in French. As such, applicants must have a command of French at the B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) at a minimum, or have completed at least two 300-level or above courses in French. Certification of language proficiency may be required.
An academic reference is required for a complete application.
What supports or services are available at Tours?
SSU at Tours provides support for students with permanent or temporary accessibility needs. For more information on accessibility of the campus, please review their accessibility page. For information on accessibility of campuses across Europe, ESN has created "MappEd!" which allows you to check the accessibility of universities and cities across Europe. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.
Also, the Bureau des Relations Internationales offers an orientation program, which provides information about French culture, the French academic system and what will be expected of exchange students in their French courses. We strongly recommend registering for this orientation, which is offered at the beginning of September.
All year long, various cultural events and excursions will be organized by the international relations office - for a preview of what to expect, please explore the current Cultural Program and their Culture & Sport programme, which both include a variety of activities and events, including bike tours, a cultural passport program, evenings at the cinema, cooking workshops, and trips outside of Tours to Paris, Mont St. Michel, and other surrounding castles and attractions.
Student Tips: "I found that the easiest way to make friends with local students was to sign up for the “Service Learning” program. These are one hour sessions where you get paired up with a French student. For half an hour, you speak to them in French and for the other half, you speak in English. If you sign up to do these 4 times a week, you also get course credits for it!"
"There were many social activities organized. There were very frequent trips to see the many castles and wine caves around Tours in the Loire Valley, and ski trips, as well as various excursions. All of the exchange students could buy a ticket so long as there was space for the excursion. The host institution would also host social gatherings like dinners or parties so that we could connect both with each other and local students. For example, a paella dinner. In order to connect with locals one should keep an open mind and take advantage of the programs offered by the institution that helps connect internationals with locals, for instance the “parronage” program".
What options are there at Tours for improving my French fluency?
Tours' CUEFEE (Centre Universitaire d'Enseignement du Français pour Etudiants Etrangers) provides french courses for exchange students at very low cost (roughly 50 euros per semester) in order to improve their written and spoken French skills. More information can be found on the CUEFEE page - see "Program 1 - Linguistic Assistance".
Student Tips: "I highly recommend the Tandem sessions which count for credits. For 4 hours a week, you speak half an hour in French, half an hour in English with a French student. The students that signed up were usually more eager to learn and have a conversation than the students in classes. I met the most local people from my tandem sessions."
What's so special about Tours?
The largest city in the Loire valley, Tours is called the "Le Jardin de la France" and is located southwest of Paris just an hour by train away. Straddling two rivers, the Loire and the Cher, the city is known for its delightful gardens, le Vieux Tours (the medieval district), and a number of historically interesting sites and features alongside various festivals and competitions (don't miss the stuffed elephant and Napoleon's cedar tree). The region is also known for its linguistical "perfection" or "purity" of the locally spoken French. The city is a wonderful base for exploration of the Loire Valley as well as the Royal Chateaux, as well as other areas of France. Due to its location on one of the main TGV train networks, it's possible to reach the coast of Bordeaux in 2.5hrs and also take trains down to the Mediterranean coast, the northwest of France to Lille, or to Barcelona in the north of Spain. For information on living in the city visit their Living in Tours page, or for getting around Tours or for travelling outside the city, visit their Transportation page.
Student Tips: "There are two very popular spots for people to meet and gather, “Place Plumereau,” and the street by the Tours cathedral. There one can find many restaurants and cafes. Also definitely go to a French opera or live theatre – they are amazing."
Study Abroad 101
Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.
Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).
After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.
Study Abroad Advising
If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below.
1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.
How to Apply
Download the application guide
This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.
Identify three programs of interest
We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.
Check requirements and deadlines
These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.
Start your application
Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!
Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.
International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.
For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.
Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.