Living in France
Living in France
Living Abroad: Sciences Po
Students in the first phase of the Dual BA Program will live and study at one of Sciences Po's regional satellite campuses in Le Havre, Menton, or Reims. Click through the links below to get vital information on hospitals, banks, transportation, etc. in the applicable host city.
General Information About Living in France
In France, BNP Paribas ATMs are able to accept American debit cards that do not have the French security chip. Not all ATMs in France are able to accept American debit cards, so it is wise to find the BNP Paribas locations in your city in case you need to withdraw cash before opening your French bank account
Although the literal translation is "Tobacconist," tabacs sell much more than tobacco products. A closer cultural translation is that of a convenience store, where newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, postcards, stamps, phone cards, and more can be purchased. Tabacs ofen have a small café area that serves coffee and sandwiches as well.
Emergency Services Phone Numbers
Fire Brigade: 18
What to Pack – Essentials
These items should travel with you in your carry-on, in case your luggage is lost.
- Important documents (passport, visa, itinerary, plane tickets, etc.)
- A valid passport with a long-stay student visa (unless you have an exemption), original and photocopy.
- Your original birth certificate and a certified (official) translation. This document is proof of your civil status.
- The original documents you used to obtain your visa from the French consulate or embassy in your home country. You may be asked to present these at customs and they will be necessary when you apply for a residency permit (titre de séjour). You MUST obtain a signed and stamped OFII document from the Consulate.
- Originals of your diplomas and a certificate attesting that the high school diploma allows you to attend a university in your home country.
- Enough prescription drugs for the length of your stay (It is best to ensure ahead of time that you are allowed to bring them into the country and that you have documentation, either the prescription or a doctor’s note). A prescription from abroad will NOT be filled in France. If you run out of your prescription while you are in France, you will need a new one from a French doctor.
- Computer with charger
- Camera with cords
- Outlet adapter/Power converter
- Sheets/bed linens
- Bath towels
- MP3 Player/iPod
- Enough cash to last you a few days until you open your French bank account
Be sure to research the general climate for your individual campus.
- Pants (2-3 pairs—you can substitute a pair or two with skirts or khakis if going to warmer climates)
- Sweaters/Sweatshirts (2-3)
- Long sleeve shirts (good for layering)
- Underwear (one week’s worth)
- Pajamas (2 pair)
- Warm slippers
- Socks (a week’s worth; include a few pairs of wool socks if you’re going to colder climates)
- Workout clothes
- Thermal underwear
- Coat/Jacket (water resistant with zip pockets and removable lining)
- One nice outfit (dress pants/skirt/dress) for special/formal occasions
- Decent walking shoes
- Flip flops
- Warm hat, gloves, and scarves (for colder climates)
Most toiletries can be purchased once you arrive, but be sure to pack enough for a few days until you make your first trip to the supermarket or pharmacy.
- Sunglasses/extra eyeglasses/contacts
- For students who wear contact lenses, it is highly advisable to switch to chemical disinfectants and extended wear lenses, and bring solution from home, as it is quite expensive in France. Students have reported running out of solution several weeks before the end of the semester, so it is best to overestimate the amount you may need. Electronic disinfecting units can be a problem for contact lenses, because of the difference in voltage between France and the US. Units that run on a time may not shut off automatically, and an electronic unit is yet another thing that will need a voltage adapter. However, if you cannot use chemical disinfectants, Cooper Vision makes a dual voltage (120/240) unit that students have used in the past with success.
With other toiletries, it is easy to find just about everything you will need in France. Naturally, the selection and brands available will most likely be different from those in the US.
- Alarm clock
- Refillable water bottle
- Umbrella or raincoat
What NOT to Pack
All of these items can be purchased upon your arrival
- Hairdryers and electrical appliances
- Decorations, posters, etc.
- School supplies such as folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.
- Multiple electronics that may need power converters and adapters (see note below)
Check with your airline to determine how many pieces of luggage you are allowed on your flight. Most students pack far more than they need. You will be able to buy many of these things once you arrive to your Sciences Po campus, so you should pack just enough to get you through until you can go shopping.
Limit yourself to the essentials
You will no doubt acquire things overseas. When packing for your trip, try to limit yourself to the 2-bag rule so that you aren’t bogged down on your return trip.
Bring clothes that are easily layered for various climate conditions, do not need ironing, can be drip-dried, and are comfortable and durable.
Remember that most electrical appliances will not work because of the different electrical current. Any electronics that you bring with you from outside of the EU will need a power converter. It is usually better to buy small electrical appliances (hair dryers, curling irons, etc.) when you arrive on campus in France.
Call Your Bank
Make sure you call your financial institutions and let them know you’ll be traveling. Many banks have security protections in place that can mean your bank card will be shut off if you don’t let them know you’ll be traveling ahead of time.
Lastly, you should keep your money, important documents, valuables, prescription medications, a change of clothing and some toiletries in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.