Summer Program in Lyon

Located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon is - and always has been - a unique crossroads of European cultures.  France's second largest city, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon provides an ideal location for the study of contemporary France as well as its rich historical and cultural heritage.  With approximately 1 million inhabitants, Lyon has the liveliness and energy of an urban setting yet avoids some of the pitfalls of the Paris metropolis. Daily life is more affordable, the pace of life a bit slower, cultural life is abundant, and Lyon has the reputation for being the gastronomic capital of France! In Lyon, the university is just one part of a diverse, lively city and, as a result, American students will not hear English spoken at every café terrace as might occur in some other common destinations for study abroad in France.

The Program

Several courses, taught by faculty from the University of Virginia and the Université Lyon II and the Institut d’études politiques de Lyon, offer students broad and in-depth analyses of France’s role in an expanding Europe, contemporary French society and political culture, and the historic treasures of Lyon itself. Students will explore the challenges facing the French today as they strive to maintain - and redefine – a cultural identity forged by history while simultaneously becoming full citizens in Europe. 

By incorporating field trips, cultural events, and local guest speakers into the curriculum, the program takes every opportunity to explore the city of Lyon as an extension of the classroom. Excursions outside the city have, in the past, included destinations like Annecy, Beaune and Avignon.  Independent travel to Paris, a mere 2-hr TGV trip from Lyon, is encouraged either over a long weekend or upon completion of the course.

The Lyon Program is specially designed by UVA faculty to complement the university’s curriculum. This program allows students to earn actual UVA credit and grades (as opposed to transfer credit!) while being immersed in the cultural life of France.

UVA faculty are in residence during the program, making this an ideal experience for students who have not yet traveled to France or who are still learning French.

Course Offerings

All courses taught in French
6-week session, June 3rd  to July 15th

FREN 2010-2020: Intermediate French (6 credits)

Instructors: Larkin Murphy, Assistant Teaching Professor, East Carolina University and

Marylise Rilliard, Ph.D. student, University of Texas, Austin (former instructor UVA French Department and UVA in Lyon)

This 6-credit/6-week sequence focuses on the development of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in French while taking full advantage of the unique cultural immersion experience of life in Lyon. Expanding the walls of the classroom into the city itself, students will enjoy cultural outings designed to complement the curriculum. (Fulfills year 2 of the College Required Course Sequence).

Former students wrote:  “The teachers were amazing and I learned so much in a short time frame.” “All the activities deepened my understanding because we used French and experienced cultural aspects first hand.’” Class was a great mix of traditional academic instruction and activity-based practice.” “The professors were immensely helpful and willing to aid in my learning of the language.” The classes were intellectually engaging. It was nice to speak and learn about French from the context of actually living in France instead of viewing it from the outside.”

FREN 3031: Finding Your Voice in French  (3 credits)

Instructor : Sherri Rose, Assistant Professor, Hillsdale College (UVA Ph.D. French)

Interested in perfecting your writing skills while immersed in an authentic and exciting cultural environment? This course offers an opportunity for students to explore and develop their own “voice” in written and spoken French. The city of Lyon will be a living language laboratory in which students can experiment and apply the lessons of the classroom to daily communication in French. Students will develop greater confidence in their communicative skills, command of grammar, and ability to revise and edit their own work. The course is conducted entirely in French. Prerequisite for this summer course: FREN 2020 or FREN 2032.

One former student wrote:  “Sherri is an awesome grammar teacher! Many of the topics I’d already interacted with but this was the first time I’d understood many of them.”

FREN 3034:  Advanced Oral and Written Expression in French, “Café Culture: The Art of Speaking and Writing Well in French” (3 credits)

Instructor: Lova Rajaonarisoa, Lecturer, University of Virginia

Writers of "the Lost Generation," such as Hemingway, chose the café as a preferred location for writing and observing French life. Students enrolled in FREN 3034 will meet and work in cafés and migrate throughout the city of Lyon, as they work on perfecting their oral and written skills in French. FREN 3034 is a course for intermediate-level students who wish to improve their mastery of the French language while studying contemporary French culture. Prerequisite for this summer course: FREN 2020 or FREN 2320.

Former students wrote:  “This class challenged me to think about cultures outside of my own and allowed me to gain a perspective I never would have had otherwise. Lova is an amazing professor and I would jump at the chance to take a class with her again!”

4-week session, June 17th - July 15th

FREN 3585/4585:  “History & Memory: France and the Second World War” Instructor: Laurent Douzou, Professor, Sciences Po Lyon. (3 credits)

Taught by Prof. Laurent Douzou, France’s leading scholar of the French Resistance, this class explores the experience and the memory of World War Two and its consequences for the French nation. How did France confront the torment of defeat in 1940 and its consequences? How was the Vichy regime conceived and how did it put in place a political system that turned its back on France’s republican heritage while embarking on a path of state collaboration with Nazi Germany? How did the Resistance movement gradually succeed in challenging and undermining the Vichy regime? How did the domestic networks of the French resistance succeed in joining forces with the Free French? How has the period of the Dark Years survived in the collective memory of the French today? This class will give students a fascinating window onto how this essential chapter of modern history has shaped France and Europe today. 

One former student wrote: “I could have easily gone to M. Douzou’s class all day every day while in Lyon. He is incredibly engaging and has so much to say – not to mention that he is clearly incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable. Despite his expert status, he still strongly encouraged everyone in the class to participate and ask questions and to think beyond the historical facts, which was something I really enjoyed and benefitted from.”

FREN 3585/4585: “Lyon Today: Territories, Memories & Identities” (3 credits)

Instructor: Annick Spay, CIEF-Université Lyon 2

Students will explore historic as well as new neighborhoods in Lyon and learn why each has its own distinctive identity. How is Lyon changing from a traditional city to an international metropolis? What are the consequences of these changes for the cultural life of the community? How is green urbanism having an impact on Lyon? Using approaches borrowed from the disciplines of architectural history, sociology, art history and urbanism, we will also discuss the gentrification of the inner-city and the processes by which the middle classes are increasingly relegated to the suburbs. We also hope to explore the city by bicycle this summer!

Pre-requisite: FREN 3032.

Former students wrote: “I feel so lucky to have been taken to different parts of the city that any tourist, even other students, would never have seen. We went to ‘la periphérie et partout.’ This gave me such a different perspective on Lyon and France in general. I would have been so limited without this course (and – wouldn’t have known it!).” “Super engaging…I learned an absolutely incredible amount about France and Lyon. Annick Spay is awesome!”

FREN 3585/4585: “Food, France, and Lyon - Capitale de la gastronomie française ? » (3 credits)

Instructor: Jennifer Holm, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia-Wise

Lyon is at the heart of culinary culture in a nation where food and eating are integral components of identity and tradition.  As food scholar Massimo Montanari writes, “The food system… is the repository of traditions and of collective identity. It is … also the first way of entering into contact with a different culture.” 

While in Lyon, France’s capitale de la gastronomie, we will examine food as a cultural object and as a key to understanding French and Lyonnais identity. The course will explore a number of questions:  What is gastronomy, and more particularly, what is French gastronomy?  How does France use gastronomy to make claims about identity and the nation?  What culinary traditions originate in or are particular to Lyon and why?  How does the city’s cuisine reflect French culinary tradition and/or respond to the changing face of France? 

Such questions will be essential to our immersion in French and Lyonnais culture. Students will examine a variety of texts, films, and cultural objects in order to think critically about the relationship between food, culture, and society in contemporary France.  

Former students wrote: “ I definitely learned much more about French culture and it help me be more adventurous with food!”The class was fun and engaging and helped me to discover Lyon!”“This class made me consider a lot of things I wouldn’t have otherwise.”“The professor has a great discussion style.”

Application Procedure

Students must complete the UVA Study Abroad application on-line at

Students should apply to either the four-week program of upper-level French courses (June 17 - July 15) or the six-week program (June 3 - July 15). As part of the program application, students applying to the four-week program will be asked to list the courses they are interested in taking, in order of preference. Enrollment requests will be reviewed by the Program Director and are not guaranteed; students should list a minimum of 3 courses in order of preference.

Program Deadlines for Summer 2017

Application deadline: March 1, 2017
Notification of acceptance to program: March 10, 2017

Costs and Financial Aid

The price of the program ($$5,800.00 in-state and $ 6,352.00 for out-of-state) includes: tuition and fees (including a Summer 2017 program fee), housing, Medex insurance, program dinners and luncheons,  program-directed excursions travel costs, program-related guided tours and cultural events. Click here to go to the Summer Budget Sheet.

The price of the program does not include: international airfare; local transportation; personal travel; laundry; most meals (note that each hotel room does include a fully-equipped kitchenette).

Financial Aid is available for this program. For a financial aid application and information, visit

For additional financial assistance:

Apply for an ISO Scholarships on-line at

Apply for a Lyon Program Scholarship. Download the application from and returned it by the deadline to the French Department, 358 New Cabell Hall.


Students will be housed in a business-class residential hotel located within the heart of the city, just 5 minutes from the center.  The Cercle Villemanzy building dates to the 17th century and is perched on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill,  offering a magnificent view of the Rhône and the city of Lyon. The residence offers fully equipped accommodations; it also provides common facilities (gym & lounge), along with meeting rooms and conference rooms.

Cercle Villemanzy
Résidence Internationale de Lyon
21, montée Saint-Sébastien
69001 LYON
Tel: (33) 4 72 00 19 00

Contact Information

Program Director: Janet Horne
Associate Program Director: Lova Rajaonarisoa

UVA International Studies Office
208 Minor Hall
P.O. Box 400165
Charlottesville, VA 22904
Phone: (434) 982-3010

Student Reflections on Lyon

"I had an amazing time in Lyon. It was a very comfortable place to improve my French and the experiences I gained will stick with me forever."
      ~Martha Eason

" I could go on and on and on and on about how absolutely fabulous Lyon was."
      ~Lauren Newman

"One of my favorite moments...was when I realized I had been walking around Lyon for days without using a map and that I didn't need one anymore."
      ~Codi Trigger

"The UVa in Lyon program offered me a perfect way to experience France with its fair balance of organized program activities, which helped us to acquaint ourselves with the city and its culture, and gain confidence in a unknown place. Still we had plenty of free time, which I got to spend exploring on my own and with fellow students. A couple of experiences I will never forget include: cooking with a chef in Lyon (the gastronomical capital of France!), a 40km tandem bike ride in the town of Annecy with the French Alps as our backdrop, staying up all night for the summer solstice music festival, or a simple walk, browsing used books from vendors by the river and a glace enjoyed while strolling the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon (the historical district). "The assurance and encouragement I received from the locals when I practiced French in "real life" is something I will always remember fondly. Whether asking for peppers in the local market or directions to the nearest metro stop, I was often met with receptive smiles. My experience in Lyon really encouraged ownership of my trip to France by giving me a personal perspective on a previously unknown city and by contextualizing my French studies in unique and intimate way."
      ~Norhan Fillo