Most people visiting a foreign country will rent a hotel room and follow the tourist tours and trails, and if that’s what you want to do there is nothing wrong with that.
However, did you know that there is a much better way to integrate yourself to the country’s language and culture? This way is called Homestay Accommodation or (Hébergement chez l’Abitant) in French, and it’s organized by an organization/program called CLA (Centre de linguistique appliquée). Note: No affiliate link in this post.
CLA is an educational program that allows you to enjoy more fully the language, culture and customs of France for foreign students wanting to learn French.
Homestay Accommodation Program
The Homestay Accommodation program allows you to rent a room not in a hotel, but in a homeowner’s home. The program provides two types of home stay accommodations which are the following:
1- You can stay with a family in their home – It’s called (Living in a family home formula “half board”)
This is where you stay with a French family in their house with full integration to the family life participating in conversations, outings, leisure, cooking, shopping, etc… They get to know you and you get to know them.
This allows you to practice and improve the language and learn more about the culture. The participating families will be very excited to have you, and you will have fun bathing in culture and way of life that’s different from yours.
If you like adventure and want to totally integrate to learn the language, you will love this integration program as it contributes to rapid learning of the language in a friendly and fun atmosphere.
2- You can rent a room in someone’s house – It’s called (Room in family formula “semi-independence“)
In this case, you would be staying in a room in a private home with comfortable setting and autonomy. You might also have access to kitchen and other common areas of the home, but your integration is more limited and you’d be more independent.
In this case, the difference is that your interaction with your host family will be much more limited and you will not be required to spend as much time with the people in the house. This will work fine if you’re more of an independent nature, and planning to do your own things during your stay.
Details About The Homestay Accommodation Program
Families that agree to participate in such program make themselves available for the time of your stay. Because life happens there may be some times when they may not be fully available for you, but there shouldn’t be any problem for the most part. If the family owns any pet that you may be allergic to, the CLA center would let you know in advance through the program and in which case they would match you with a family with no animal.
You will have a room with comfortable bedding, a desk or table where you’ll be able to work or use your laptop. The room will always include closet, storage and shelves, with everything in good condition.
With program number (half board) you’d be expected that you take breakfast and dinner with the family. If for one reason or another you would be missing a meal with your family host, be kind enough to let them know in advance. However, since this is part of the program, this type of situation is not expected to happen too often. The goal is to mangle with the family as much as possible and improve your French.
Bed linen and towels are provided and washed by the family and you will be able to borrow an iron if you need to iron your clothes.
Of course, you are responsible for soap, toothpaste, shampoo and any cosmetic products you may need. You are also responsible for the cost of phone calls from the family’s phone and if you brake or damage anything.
The program-center organizing this arrangement for travelers have pre-fixed fees that will include the stay, food and other expenses related to your stay. However, just like for hotels, prices will vary according to location and degree of comfort.
For more information you can contact CLA program right here.
If you know anyone wanting to travel to France for more than just play tourist, but learning more about the language and culture, please, pass along this article to them.
20 thoughts on “Homestay Accommodation (Hébergement Chez l’Habitant) Another Way to Travel to France”
What a great idea! I love this. It’s a great option for people who really want to learn about the culture and visit the country without being a “tourist”. I love visiting new places but I always hate being a tourist. I don’t want to visit the hot spots in the tourist areas – I’d rather go to someplace where people are just living their lives so I can see how they do it while I’m not looking 🙂
I bet it’s also a great way to learn the language inside out. It’s a bonus that the family does your washing. That’s even better than being at home! I wonder if they have anything like this in the US. It would be fun to be the person hosting someone and helping them learn about our country. Thanks for sharing!
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I actually didn’t know about this program until this past summer, when a friend of mine when to France, and told me that he wasn’t going to a hotel, but in someone’s house. I thought that was very cool, and wanted to write a post about this ever since.
I think that it’s the best thing for anyone wanting to learn the language and stay away from the tourists.
Thank for coming, Carol and glad you liked it.
I agree this would be a great way to learn the culture and improve your language. Being a tourist is so different than really mixing with the people wherever we go. My only hesitation would be that I really like my own space and not sure about staying with strangers. I can see though that there are pluses for doing it.
Thanks for another educational on France Sylviane.
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I am so totally agreeing with you on that. I am someone who LOVE my own space and just simply don’t do well in someone else house, so I totally understand, but for those who don’t mind that’s a nice alternative.
Thanks for your visit.
WHOA! Stop reading my mind. I am working on a post very very very similar to this about alternatives to renting a hotel room for longer stays.
But this program is only for students right? I.E. a person could not just call them to setup a homestay with a family if they did not attend school there?
Either way, i think it’s a great way to learn french and get to know the real france by living with a french family. I guess the alternative is for kids to stay in a dorm room which is less cozy. Plus staying with a family might keep the students more in line and less apt to mess around from their studies? 🙂
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Actually in the case of CLA I think it’s mainly for students, but the same program exist for adult. A friend of mine and his wife when to France this past summer and they stayed in someone’s house.
When he told me that I couldn’t believe it, that’s how I learned from these programs. They stayed in a family in Lyon and in Beaujolais.
That’s good to know. I have a references which i use myself or have used in the past where we stay in other peoples homes too. I absolutely love it. But sometimes with the kids it’s better to not do that if you have to stay for a long time.
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Hey Sylviane, I have heard of similar programs but did not know they were available to adults also, I thought it was just student exchange. Great information and I found it to be very interesting. Cool stuff for sure!
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Yes, those programs exist for adults too.
Thanks for coming by 🙂
I had heard of this for students Sylviane because my nephew went to Germany when he was a senior in high school and stayed for the summer. Had a fabulous time and the experience was wonderful. He learned so much.
Personally, I think it would be a neat idea to actually “hang around” some locals and learn more from them but at the same time I would feel like I’m intruding. It’s a great way to learn though and I’m glad to know that this is available for adults as well.
Another great thing to consider when traveling and I would think if they have this in France then they would have this in other countries. Hopefully!
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Well, sometimes I’m getting so behind with my comments, what a shame 🙂
I am sure your nephew enjoyed visiting Germany with the locals. For sure one learns so much more this way!
You wouldn’t have to feel like you’re intruding, Adrienne, because families who participate in the program are 100% willing to do it, so, it’s nothing to feel bad about staying there with them. Also, as a general rule, Europeans tend to be more hospitable than Americans are. In this country people use the word intruding a lot, but not so much there 🙂
I’m sure they have this type of programs in other countries too.
Thanks for your input, Adrienne.
This is the best system ever. I am coming to France and will be using this Homestay accommodation system. I have 2 questions; first would this system allow families to stay and secondly how do the French view Indians? Will the home owners be able to speak English?
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Hi Shalu and sorry for getting back to you so late.
To answer your questions, I don’t know how many people are allowed per family, but I’m sure that you can find out by asking the agency/program. It could also depend on your host.
I can’t speak for every single “individual” French person, but I have never heard anything negative about Indians, Shalu 🙂
Unfortunately, not everyone does speak English in France, but I am assuming that most of those who participate in such program would for the most part.
Hope I answered your questions, dear, and again so sorry for this delay!
Sylviane, thank you so much for your answer. I really like this idea but I will have to check with the website to see if they can accommodate a family. I also think those participating would know English. or at least working English. Thank you for your lovely post, its gives me a few ideas.
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Homestay accommodation seems to be so much fun!! A friend of mine is planning to make a trip to France, I will surely recommend him, the homestay accommodation. Thanks for providing this great insight on the same.
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Well, I’m so glad that you can recommend this to someone who is going to France soon.
Thanks for your visit 🙂
Hi Sylviane! This is such a great way to immerse ourselves completely in your culture and I would definitely consider this given the chance. Thanks for sharing!
Hello Sylviane! This is such a great way to experience your culture and get a good grasp of your language as well. But frankly, I never really thought that this is possible. Thanks for sharing this interesting piece of information.
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France is one of my choice vacation getaways, and your Homestay article makes me pack my bags and hop on the next plane to France. Thank you!
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