Preparing your stay

Once you receive our enrollment confirmation letter, you can start preparing for your stay for the CAVILAM – Alliance française ! Here you can find all the information you will need on the steps to undertake prior to departure.


When preparing for your stay, either for a short or a long term stay, there are some useful documents to bring along.


Before you leave, spend a couple of minutes preparing a budget to get an idea of living expenses.


Over or under packing is always an issue when preparing for going abroad. Take a look of what you will be needing here in Vichy.


Depending on the applicant’s profile, some formalities may have to be performed. Before your departure, take a look to which apply to you.

Language Skills

The fact that French is not your native language should not prevent you from coming to France. After all, you are coming here to learn it.


Even though there is no real obligation to bring the following documents for your stay, here in CAVILAM – Alliance française we strongly believe that is better to be safe than sorry. To be on the safe side, we propose the top 10 documents that might come in handy during your stay here in France and you might consider bringing while preparing your stay :

  1. A valid passport (or ID card for EEA citizens)
  2. A visa if applicable
  3. Health insurance valid in France*
  4. Enrollment confirmation letter
  5. Name and contact information of an emergency contact person to be kept at hand while traveling.
  6. Contact data of the home country’s diplomatic representation in France.
  7. Medical history if presenting specific medical conditions.
  8. Other insurance if available, such as liability insurance.
  9. Driver’s license, if you are planning on driving here in France.
  10. 6 passport photographs for diverse documents (white background, 3.5 x 4.5 cm).

*Except for non-EEA students, who could be assisted upon arrival to obtain valid insurance in France if needed.


Besides the CAVILAM – Alliance française tuition fees, you should foresee for other expanses that you might have during your stay. Here in Vichy, our students benefit from certain discounts/deals for accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, among many others.

Upon arrival, money exchange bureaus and cash dispensers are available within Paris, Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand airports and in Vichy itself. Still, we strongly encourage our students to have sufficient funds in cash in the local currency euro (€ / EUR) to cover the expenses of the first few days and/or a debit card to use at an ATM to get euros from your bank account at home since this will save you some eventual fees and the money withdrawn in Euros will be at the normal exchange rate.

Average personal expenses are estimated between €750 and €1,000 euro per month, including accommodation, meals and leisure. During the first month, however, exceptional costs should be expected.


One of the most time consuming tasks before departure is to chose what goes in and what stays out of the bag. In order to stay within the luggage restrictions imposed by your airline carrier, we want to help you in figuring out this step.

It doesn’t matter in which of the four seasons are you coming to Vichy, an umbrella and waterproof shoes will be useful throughout the year. During the winter season, warm clothes are necessary since from November to March temperatures are between -5°C and 10°C. In the summer the average temperatures are 13°C (night) and 32°C (day), which are ideal for sun tanning at Vichy’s beach “Vichy plage”, have a bike ride next to the Allier river or simply to improve your wake-board skills. If by any chance there is something missing in your luggage, there’s no need to worry since here in Vichy, unlike many other French cities, our stores are open even on Sunday.

Frequent use items, including beauty and personal care products, are available in Vichy at standard worldwide prices and our city is world renowned in this field. Due to it’s international nature, the city’s chain supermarkets and specialty stores offer a wide range of food ingredients and dishes from all continents.

Students and scholars with specific medical needs are encouraged to take the necessary precautions as indicated by their physician to allow for treatment continuity upon arrival.


Visa requirements are mainly determined by 3 factors:

  • How long the student will be staying in France (more or less than 90 days)
  • The student’s nationality, EEA or non-EEA
  • The purpose of the stay (studying, working, family reunion, etc.)

Since France is part of the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA), EU and EEA citizens do not need a permit to enter and study in CAVILAM – Alliance française. For non-EEA-citizens, the first and most important thing to arrange after receiving the enrollment confirmation letter is a visa. It is best to count on two months for the procedure of arranging a visa.

Different types of visa are required depending on the duration and nature of stay in CAVILAM – Alliance française. In most of the cases, the applicable visas are the following :

  • Short-stay visa (less than 90 days)
    A Short-stay visa, also know as a “Schengen visa”, is sufficient for stays totaling a maximum of 90 days. However, nationals of the
    following countries
    don’t need to obtain a visa for short stays in France. On the other hand, this visa cannot be extended.
  • Long-stay visa (more than 90 days)
    Anyone who wishes to remain in CAVILAM – Alliance française for longer than 90 days, must apply for a long-stay visa, also know as a “National visa”.

Language skills

As we mentioned before, the fact that French is not your native language should not prevent you from coming to France. While we don’t expect you to be fluent in the language of Moliere, here in CAVILAM – Alliance française we believe that every time is a good time to learn French.

Since French is our passion, here are the top 10 expressions to you kick start your “adventure of French” before your departure and that will help you on arrival :

  • Bonjour
  • Je m’appelle ______
    My name is ______
  • Est-ce que vous parlez anglais ?
    Do you speak English?
  • J’apprends le français au CAVILAM – Alliance française.
    I learn French at CAVILAM – Alliance française.
  • Je voudrais aller à Vichy.
    I would like to go to Vichy.
  • Où se trouve la gare ?
    Where is the train station ?
  • Combien ça coûte ?
    How much does it cost ?
  • Pouvez-vous répéter s’il vous plaît ?
    I learn French at CAVILAM – Alliance française.
  • Merci
    Thank you
  • Au revoir

This few words will be the building blocks, and just a small fraction, of what you will be able to say a couple of weeks into you stay. Now that you have everything ready for your departure, take the time to discover what will be waiting for you here in Vichy.

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