Paris: Exploration Program

September in Paris 2015 - Vaux le Vicomte
Final App Deadline: 
Friday, May 31, 2019
Language Requirement: 
Kylie Poulin

The Paris Exploration Program is open to incoming first-year University of Chicago undergraduate students only.

Program Description

Students participating in the 2018 Paris Exploration Program will study with UChicago PhD student Gregory Valdespino and Professor Leora Auslander of the Department of History. Mr. Valdespino will offer a course titled “The Sacred City: Paris’s Religious Landscape” which will explore the debates about the place of religion and diversity in Paris by exploring how the city’s diverse religious communities have made places for themselves in the city, and Professor Auslander will teach “Remembering in the City: Paris’s Commemorative Landscape,” in which students will learn about the controversies surrounding what events in French history should be commemorated in brick and mortar or on sign posts on the streets of the capital. Excursions in and around the city will feature significant sites of religious and commemorative practice.

Students participating in this program will arrive in Paris on Sunday, August 26, 2018 and depart on Sunday, September 9, 2018. More details regarding arrival and departure logistics and the daily program schedule will be communicated to admitted students over the summer.


“The Sacred City: Paris’s Religious Landscape”
August 27–31, 2018
Gregory Valdespino

Does religion have a place in modern France? From debates about burkinis and headscarves to Catholic protests against gay marriage, this question has caught global headlines over the past few years. Yet these stories often ignore the longer histories of religious diversity and division. By exploring religious sites across Paris, this course will explore how individuals and communities have sought to make a place for themselves and their faith in this bustling metropolis. The class will visit and discuss houses of worship and other significant spaces related to Paris’s Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist communities. Students will be encouraged to use Paris’s religious landscape as a lens to see how changing ideas about race, faith, and liberty have shaped French society.

“Remembering in the City: Paris’s Commemorative Landscape”
September 3–7, 2018
Leora Auslander

Most of a nation’s past is forgotten. Unless a conscious effort is made to keep them in consciousness, even the events that seem momentous when they occur and the most heroic or villainous leaders fade from memory within a generation or two. Our focus in this course will be on the commemorative sites both banal and monumental inscribed into the Parisian streetscape, including those celebrating national achievement, those mourning loss, and those grappling with shame. Our investigation will include: street and subway station naming; the Pantheon; the Communard’s wall; the Shoah memorial in Drancy; the sculpture, “Fers” commemorating France’s participation in the slave trade; and, the Immigration Museum.

Center in Paris

Headquarters for the College’s study abroad programs in Paris is the University of Chicago Center in Paris, the University’s research and teaching arm in Europe. Situated in the thirteenth arrondissement, the Center in Paris is part of an ambitious intellectual project along the river Seine, including the Bibliothèque Nationale and a new home for Université Denis Diderot (University of Paris VII). The Center in Paris features classrooms, offices for faculty and graduate students, computer facilities, a small library and an apartment for the faculty director. For participants in UChicago’s programs, the Center in Paris provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place and a welcoming UChicago “presence” within one of the major capitals of Europe.


Students in the Paris Exploration Program are housed in a residence hall within the Cité Internationale Universitaire (Cité). The Cité, a park-like residential complex in the fourteenth arrondissement, is the international student campus in Paris, though French students also live there. Students reside in single rooms with a private bath and have access to Cité facilities, including a library, theater, laundry and athletic facilities. Students will have access to common kitchens in the residence halls and can purchase inexpensive meals at the Cité’s restaurant universitaire.

Travel and Visas

All students will require a passport that will remain valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into France (through February 2019). If you need to apply for or renew your US passport, you can do so here: Please note that regular passport applications and renewals can take up to eight weeks to process, so please consider expedited passport processing.

Most students will not need a visa to participate in the program. US citizens may travel freely as tourists (i.e. without a visa) within and between any of the “Schengen” countries—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland—for a maximum of 90 days in a 6 month period. Because the Paris program runs fewer than 90 days, and because participants are not directly enrolling in a French university, holders of US passports do not need to obtain a visa.

If you are a citizen of a country other than the United States, you may be required to get a visa. If you are unsure about your status, you should contact the Consulate General of France. The website for the Chicago-based Consulate is

Credits and Registration

These courses are not for credit and will not appear on a student’s transcript.


Students participating in the Paris Exploration Program pay a program fee of $3,000. Financial aid is not available for this non-credit experience.

The program fee includes:

  • Accommodation for the dates of the program
  • Instruction
  • Course materials
  • Student support (including a graduate student coordinator who resides with the group at Cité)
  • Program excursions and activities
  • Some group meals
  • Local transportation, including airport pick-up

Out-of-pocket expenses include:

  • Round-trip airfare to and from Paris
  • Some meals
  • Communications (including cell phone usage)
  • Personal entertainment and travel

Eligibility and Application

The Paris Exploration Program is open to incoming first-year University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

The online application will be available starting April 13 and must be submitted by May 31. To apply, you will need to complete the online application form, including a statement of interest addressing how this experience will fit into the scheme of your education at the University of Chicago. You may wish to comment on what you feel will be the most challenging (or most rewarding) about the program, or what you hope to gain from your time in Paris. Please be sure to let us know about your prior travel experience, if any, and your language skills (French or otherwise). Each application is examined on the basis of this statement, along with the applicant’s existing application materials on file with the University of Chicago.

Admission decisions will be communicated by June 11. Students will then receive pre-departure information and instructions for booking travel from Study Abroad.

Further Information

To discuss the Paris Exploration Program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Kylie Poulin in the Office of Study Abroad (Harper 211A; 773.702.6258;

Learn more about the
Center in Paris.

What you’ll see: 

Paris Pre-Orientation 2016 - Versailles - courtParis Pre-Orientation 2016 - Chemin des Dames - Students on the Observatory Tower with battlefields in the backgroundParis Pre-Orientation 2016 - Musée de l’Orangerie - NymphéasParis Pre-Orientation 2016 - Bordeaux - Miroir d’eauSeptember in Paris 2015 - MontmartreSeptember in Paris 2015 - Sacre Coeur September in Paris 2015 - Vaux le VicomteSeptember in Paris 2015 - Versailles