Eloise - Université Lumière Lyon 2

B. Arts / Law
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

The Université Lumière Lyon 2 has two campuses. The first (Berges de Rhône, aka Quais) is in the centre of the city, while the second is in a suburb about 40 minutes away (Porte des Alpes, or Bron). I studied a full-time load of French elective courses at Lyon 2, or 30 ECTS. These were the SLM (French language course), Grammaire et Stylistique (essentially a course studying the grammar and literary techniques of Zola, Celine, Proust and Baudelaire), Contemporary French Literature and Culture, Conversation workshops, and Translation from French into English and vice versa. Depending on which courses you take, it is likely that the workload at Lyon 2 will seem lighter than at UQ. 

One of the most difficult aspects of the university's administration for exchange students in enrolment. There is no centralised system which tells you the courses available, so creating a timetable can involve going to individual faculties (and sometimes even teachers) across the two campuses.

Personal experience

Exchange in France is an incredible opportunity to learn about the country, to meet both French and international students, and to improve your language skills. Lyon 2 attracts quite a large number of Erasmus students, meaning that there are opportunities to meet people from Scandinavia, Spain, Romania, Germany, Italy, Canada... as well as domestic French students. The Erasmus student network in Lyon arranges a large number of events throughout the semester.

Lyon’s location makes it a perfect launchpad for visiting France and beyond. France’s highspeed and regional train network seamlessly connects Lyon with the popular destinations of Paris and the French Riviera, as well as other interesting and diverse cities across the country. The Carte Jeune is a discount train travel card available to purchase for those under 25 and is indispensable if you are planning to explore France and neighbouring countries. Buses and 'covoiturage' are also available and may prove to be cheaper options if you are not short on time. There is also an airport half an hour from the city centre that is serviced by Easyjet, connecting you with even more locations across Europe. Before, during and after the semester, I managed to travel to a number different countries, and to various destinations across France. 

There are also plenty of things to do in the city. Lyon has an enviable cultural scene. There are innumerable well-curated museums and galleries, and an Opera and Concert Hall with extensive programs. The restaurant and nightlife scenes are also far from lacking. Lyon is well known as the gastronomic capital of France, so do take time to try out some of its fantastic restaurants and bars. My personal recommendations would include the Bec de Jazz, the Monkey Club, L'Epicerie, Le Vins des Vivants, Chez Thibault and La Boîte à Café. Your stay in Lyon would also be incomplete without a visit to Les Halles de Paul Bocuse, an incredible food market named for the legendary French chef. 


During the semester, I lived in a university residence not far from the impressive Fourvière cathedral and the amphitheatre. One of the main advantages of this accommodation is that it is organised before you arrive in Lyon. The location is quite convenient and this is certainly the cheapest option for accommodation (250 Euros per month), but the shared kitchen and bathroom facilities are quite basic and are shared between a large number of people.


Aside from the obvious expenses like flights, accommodation and food, there are some other large expenses to be aware of when studying in France. The main one is the social security fee of 230 Euros which is compulsory for your enrolment. There are also some other expenses that pop up, such as compulsory public liability and housing insurance. 

Transport in Lyon is easy and efficient. The TCL card (the almost equivalent of a Go Card) gives you unlimited travel within Lyon and costs approximately €30 per month. In addition, there is a bike-share scheme called Velo’v with conveniently placed stations all over the city, which is a pleasant way to travel throughout Lyon when the weather warms up a little. It is only €15 for an annual subscription and you are able to use a bike for up to one hour at a time without any additional charges. 

Professional development and employability

Eloise - Université Lumière Lyon 2

Participating in an exchange to Lyon was very useful in helping to improve French language skills, so long as you do make an effort to speak as much French as possible. There is a lot to be said for having the opportunity to converse with native speakers on daily basis, and these language skills will be useful academically and professionally. Learning to adapt to new surrounds and to new systems is also a useful experience.


Exploring the city and its surrounds is highly enjoyable. Some of my fondest memories of Lyon were spent having a long lunch in a Bouchon (typical Lyonnais restaurants) in the Old Town, cycling out to the Parc de la tête d’or for a picnic, lazing about the Roman amphitheatre, buying warm croissants and baguettes from the local boulanger, or sitting to read a book in the sun on the banks of one of the two rivers.

Top tips

  • Start the research and application processes early to save time when you arrive in France.
  • These do not stop with getting accepted but continue on throughout getting your visa and having it validated, enrolling in the university and courses, applying for housing assistance, purchasing the various types of compulsory insurance.
  • There will be frustrating times (everything said about French bureaucracy is true!) but the various processes are all manageable in the end.
  • Be realistic about what you want to fit into your exchange. As tempting as it is to go at bullet speed, this can get tiring. It is important to strike a balance between taking the most of excellent opportunities to travel, go out and meet people, and having enough downtime to soak it all in.
Eloise - Université Lumière Lyon 2