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Summer in France FAQ

Use this page to answer all your questions about the Summer in France program, travel to France, and the city of Nantes.

This FAQ page is designed to help Summer in France students plan for the trip. Students will also meet several times with the program director to learn more details and ask any additional questions before the trip.

Students can contact the program director Ellen Yee (515-271-1914, with questions at any time.

How much can I expect to pay?

Students can expect round-trip airfare from Des Moines to Paris to range between $900 and $2,000. Students have found airfare for less by booking early or flying out of Omaha, Kansas City, or a different location other than Des Moines.

Students also have the option to fly direct to Nantes, instead of flying to Paris first. Typically, the earlier one makes a reservation the lower the airfare.

The International Student Travel Agency (ISTA) and other discount packagers usually have lower prices. Students may want to consider purchasing an International Student Identity card (ISIC) for the program, and then try or for good fares using the ISIC for student discounts.

In past years, some students have had luck bidding on tickets through The potential problem with bidding for tickets through is that you are not guaranteed a flight time or routing at the time you must commit to pay for the ticket.

A good travel agent can also be a useful resource. Students will need to make their own flight arrangements.

How do I get to Nantes?

Some students fly directly to Nantes. This will require a connection in Europe. Many students fly to Paris and take a train from Paris to Nantes.

Almost all flights from the U.S. to Paris arrive at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport. There is a train station at CDG that has trains departing for Nantes on a frequent basis. The train ride on the French TGV is about 2-3 hours. The train station in Nantes is in the center of town.

Train tickets can be purchased at prior to arriving in France. If you get tickets more than 14 days in advance they will cost less money; however, these tickets are non-refundable, which may cause an issue if your plane is late.

You can also buy tickets when you get to France (this is sometimes best in case your plane is late). One-way train fare to Nantes is about $50 for Economy Second Class.

When should I plan to arrive in Nantes?

You may choose to arrive in Europe before the start date of the program; however, you will be responsible for your own lodging prior to that date. We can recommend some inexpensive accommodations. Official program dates will be made avaiable closer to the program.

Is Nantes a friendly and safe city?

Absolutely, Nantes is a historic city that is visited by many tourists. However, the residents of Nantes are not jaded about tourists. The residents are interested in what brings a person to Nantes. People in Nantes are friendlier than in most cities in the U.S. or France, although one can find rude people in any city, European or American.

Nantes is a university city, so there are a lot of young people around (roughly 40 percent of the population is 26 or younger) and a lot of fun places to check out. Read this Chronicle of Higher Education article or The Huffington Post article to learn more about life in Nantes.

Nantes is a very safe city. There are some areas of Nantes that one shouldn't go to at night alone, but it's unlikely you would want to go there anyway. Visitors are most subject ot property crimes, so you need to keep track of your wallet.

For additional information about health and safety when traveling abroad, visit

What are the housing arrangements?

Drake provides each student with his/her own studio apartment located close to public transportation.

The apartment includes a bathroom with a shower; a kitchenette with a two-burner stove, small refrigerator, microwave, sink, dishes, and flatware; a day-bed with trundle; television with CNN and an English sports channel; and a desk. Internet access is available.

Where/what will I eat?

Students are responsible for their own food costs. The city of Nantes has everything from grocery stores and take-out eateries—where one can buy a croissant or baguette sandwich for very little money—to expensive restaurants. Many students choose to purchase food from the grocery store. Each student will have a kitchenette for preparing food.

Students can sample everything from pizza to couscous to crépes and beyond. Of course, Nantes has an abundance of seafood from the Atlantic Ocean and the Loire River.

What if I don't speak any French?

You can absolutely get by without being fluent in French. However, there is no question that your experience will be considerably enhanced if you speak some French.

Drake will offer a series of informal French lessons on common words and phrases to help students learn the language. There are also CDs students can use at the Law Library. We encourage students who don't speak French and do not wish to attend the informal lessons to buy a CD and develop some familiarity with basic French vocabulary.

Once you are there, you may want to communicate with people in Nantes by using the French you've learned. Many people in Nantes speak some English, especially college students, but efforts you make to speak French will be appreciated.

The bottom line is that concerns about your French language skills should not be a reason to forego this opportunity; however, your time in Nantes will be that much more enjoyable if you speak even a modest amount of French.

What is Drake’s relationship with the University of Nantes Law School?

The Drake Summer in France Program is run in cooperation with the University of Nantes and the University of Nantes Law School.

Classes are held at the University of Nantes Law School, which provides the program with classroom supplies, classroom technology, and access to computers and the internet. Professor Derek Wilson of the University of Nantes Law School serves as assistant on-site director of the program. He acts as a liaison to make sure program needs are met on a timely basis.

Drake Law School has had a long and fruitful relationship with the University of Nantes. Each year Drake Law School hosts several University of Nantes Law students who study for one year at Drake Law School. These students are invited to participate in Summer in France activities with Drake students in Nantes, and they provide social support to the American students. The American students, in turn, help the French students adjust to life in the U.S. when they arrive in Des Moines.

When will the classes meet?

Classes will meet every weekday at the University of Nantes. For more details, see the Summer in France Sample Schedule. Some changes may be necessary as the summer approaches.

Students will have access to computers at the University of Nantes. You may also want to bring a laptop, especially if you are planning to travel extensively before and after the program.

There is an internet connection in each room at the residence. If you choose to bring a laptop, be sure to bring the appropriate power converter. Do not leave your laptop or other personal items unattended at any time.

Will there be planned activities for students in Nantes?

Yes. The classes will have at least two required field trips, including a visit with the president of the administrative courts, who will explain the role of the administrative courts in France, and a visit to the criminal courts at the Palais du Justice.

We will arrange some optional recreational field trips in and around Nantes during the program such as winery tours and chateaux visits. There will also be a dinner to end the stay in Nantes.

Where are some places to go on the weekends?

We encourage the explorer in all of you. Classes are held early on Friday and late on Monday to provide longer weekends for travel.

Paris is a two-hour train ride away. The Loire River Valley chateaux are beautiful, historic, and conveniently located near Nantes. There are also vineyards and wineries in Nantes. If students decide to travel west into Brittany, they will find a completely different culture than in the rest of France.

Other European cities are reachable by train, and one can purchase a Eurorail pass to travel by train at a lower cost. Visit to find out more information about the multi-country travel pass, which will save you money on your travels. Students in the past have gone to places such as Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Biarritz, and the Normandy beaches, to name a few.

What are the academic prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for any of the courses offered in the Summer in France program.

However, to participate, all students must demonstrate the following requirements:

  • Have completed one year of full- or part-time law study
  • Be in good standing at the law school that they attend*
  • Meet the grade point requirement

*Non-Drake Law School students must submit a letter to Drake Law School from their dean or registrar certifying their current good standing. Acceptance of credits or grades for any course taken in the program, including externships and other clinical offerings, is subject to determination by the student’s home school.

What are the program grading and attendance guidelines?

Information about the Drake Law School grading system can be found in the Drake Law School Student Handbook‌. See Rule 8.

While we hope that you will all have the chance to travel during the Summer in France program, it is an academic program and class attendance is important. Courses meet a limited number of times. For this reason, and based on the ABA standards, we have adopted the following attendance policy:

  • For two-credit-hour classes: Students with five or more absences will not be permitted to sit for the final exam.
  • For one-credit-hour classes: Students with three or more absences will not be permitted to sit for the final exam.

Are the program facilities accessible to persons with disabilities?

The facility where we hold classes is fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Anyone wishing to attend the program who will need handicap accessible housing facilities or other accommodations should contact the program director.

The accessibility of France and Nantes to individuals with disabilities may vary.

How many students have participated in the program in the past?

The Drake Summer in France program has been offered since the summer of 2000. The enrollment varies from year to year and generally ranges from 18 to 34 total students. This year 25 applicants will be accepted.

What's the weather like in Nantes in June?

The weather in Nantes in June is uncertain. It can be either sunny and mild with temperatures around 75ºF, or cold and rainy with temperatures around 40ºF. It can also get very hot.

It's best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Pack clothing that can be layered. 

How much money should I budget for?

The 2022 costs are as follows:

Program fee: $7,500
Airfare round trip: $1,200-$2,000
Train round trip to Nantes: $150
Food per day: About $15
Tram around Nantes: $80
Books: $175
Rent in Des Moines (if any): $650

Additional travel expenses will depend on individual activity. Students may want to explore a variety of train passes (

Student loans are available, and we will be offering a partial scholarship this year. Learn more about Summer in France Costs & Scholarships.

Any additional requirements?

Students may want to consider purchasing an International Student Identity Card ($22). The card provides some accident/sickness coverage, a 24-hour help line, and some travel discounts.

A passport photo is required and the cards are available at the International Center on the Drake University campus. Call Jen Hogan at 271-3073 before stopping in to get your card to ensure that someone is there to help you when you arrive.

Check to be sure your passport is current. For more information, visit

Note that it can take as long as 2-3 months to obtain a valid passport. Apply now for your passport even if you are not certain you will attend the program, it will save you money.

Emergency Travel Assistance
Emergency travel assistance is in place for those that are traveling on Drake recognized trips.

To ensure you are registered for the Emergency Travel Assistance and Security Services, as well as find the registration enrollment roster and traveler documents, visit the Drake Risk Management and Insurance Forms website

What should I bring?

All students accepted into the program will receive a letter with extensive information about what they will need to bring with them to France.

A few items to remember:

  • 2020 program calendar
  • Program schedule
  • Travel planning materials
  • French language and culture required reading
  • French dictionary
  • Drake University Off-Campus Courses/Programs Handbook
  • U.S. State Department Consular information sheet
  • CDC health information about France
  • World Citizens Guide
  • Seminar Participant Release
  • Indemnification Agreement and Statement of Understanding – Seminar Visitor Release, Indemnification Agreement, and Statement of Understanding (If Applicable)
  • Emergency Contact/Medical Condition/Health Insurance Form
  • A copy of your proof of insurance
  • Contact information – List of English-speaking doctors
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