Practical Information

The Columbia in Paris team will help with day-to-day queries and provide you with all of the necessary health and safety resources during your time in France. 

  • Students will receive a detailed orientation on health and safety, including:
    • How to contact emergency services in France and in Europe
    • How to make a doctor's appointment
    • How to navigate a French pharmacy
    • How to access psychological services through Reid Hall

Students with prescription medication are advised to bring enough to cover them for the entirety of their stay in France.

Meals are typically not included in the program fee, unless you have chosen to eat with your host family or will live in a dorm that provides a partial plan. Grocery stores, boulangeriesfromageries, and charcuteries are abundant in Paris, and you will have no problem buying food supplies for casual dining. Countless low-budget travel guides and blogs will give information about where to eat in Paris. We recommend that you research beforehand if you aren't sure what to expect.

When you arrive in Paris you have several options to get around: métro, bus, tram, and the RER (Réseau Express Régional d'Île-de-France). Paris and the surrounding area is divided into five circular zones.

The Paris public transportation system is run by the RATP. The RATP offers a number of options that allow you to travel within the public transportation system. You can consult their website or app to learn more about travel pass options, find routes, see train hours, and receive updates on traffic.

For more than two decades, France has reigned as the world’s most popular tourist destination, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually. Travellers from all over the world are drawn to France’s sophisticated culture, exquisite cuisine, fine wines, romantic chateaux and picturesque countryside. You may want to check out cheap offers regularly and use your time in France to explore this beautiful country. Here is a top 10 list of the best places to visit in France:

One of the best ways to visit places in France is by taking the train. Trains are run by the SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer). If you wish to travel by train, you can purchase tickets online with a credit card on the SNCF's website or in person at any train station in Paris.

If you plan on traveling often, or traveling after the program, it might be worthwhile to purchase a Carte Avantage Jeune. This discount pass is for those between 12 and 27 years of age. It costs 50.00€ for the year and entitles you to travel at rates discounted up to 60%.  You are guaranteed a 25% discount on train tickets. For more information and to purchase a discount pass, please see the SNCF's website.

Here are some useful tips when traveling in or outside France:

  • Be sure to validate (composter) your tickets at the yellow machines on the train platform before boarding. If you do not validate your tickets, you run the risk of being fined. For the same reason, keep your tickets with you the entire length of the journey. Contrôleurs will check all passengers’ tickets.
  • If you change your reservation, you may have to pay a small surcharge. Also, you will not be reimbursed if you miss your train.
  • Students who plan to travel after or during the program should be sure that their families and the director in Paris know where they are at all times. For this, you need to upload ALL travels on the travel tracker app.
  • If you think you will be travelling around Europe during or after the program, it might be worthwhile to purchase a Eurail pass or an Interrail pass.

Having a French phone number while you live in Paris will facilitate your life and is indispensable to ensuring that you are reachable in case of an emergency. There are several phone plan options without engagement (sans abonnement). This means that you will not sign a contract and can terminate the abonnement whenever you want. Alternatively, if you are only here for a short period (ie. summer program) and don't have a French bank account, you can get pre-paid SIM cards in almost every phone shop or kiosk for 5-50€ and just use them until they are empty. In any case, you need to make sure that your phone will work with European SIM cards & that you are reachable at all times. If your phone is locked & you load up another carrier's SIM card, it won't work. To get around this, you need to UNLOCK your phone before coming to France/Europe.