Lyon: Introduction | France

The second largest city in France, the Lyon metropolitan area is home to over 2 million people of which 500,000 live in Lyon proper. It is located in a dramatic setting surrounded by hills at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. Its location on a major trade route between Northern Europe and Italy made Lyon an important city of the Roman Empire. During the Renaissance, it was a center for humanist scholarship, printing, banking and the newly-established silk industry. Lyon continues to grow as an industrial, cultural and gastronomic center; it is known as the gastronomic capital of France, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it is one of France’s most prominent centers for European business, innovation and sustainability. 

The Lyon program facilitates student exchange between five different French universities located in Lyon and students from any of the IE3 Global partner universities. The program allows students to enroll in either French language courses, in regular university courses in almost any field of study, taught entirely in French or in programs taught in English designed for international students from around the world studying in Lyon. Language proficiency required will vary by program option with a minimum first year college-level proficiency for semester options.  


  • Encompassing five different French universities with various specialty areas, the Lyon program offers a wide variety of disciplines and courses.
  • Participants have access to courses in unique fields, including sports sciences, encoding and cryptography (Lyon 1); urban studies, anthropology, women’s studies, cinema studies, literature, art history and musicology (Lyon 2); business, territorial planning and philosophy (Lyon 3); human rights, business, ethics and theology (Université Catholique); and political science, area studies and communication (Sciences Po-Lyon).
  • Participants may complete one of several one-year certificates offered by the various Lyon universities, while continuing to earn credits toward their home campus degree.
  • A large, busy metropolitan area, Lyon boasts everything from the Roman ruins to interesting postmodern architecture. A variety of languages and regional French accents can be heard on its cosmopolitan streets and squares.
  • Lyon is considered by many to be the culinary capital of France, with exquisite cuisine in every price range.
  • Lyon is in the beautiful southeastern region of France, in close proximity to Provence, the Côte-d’Azur (Mediterranean coast), Monaco, Marseilles, the Swiss, French and Italian Alps and just a few hours from Paris by train.


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