Bonjour! France comes to Urban


French exchange students from Lycée Saint Anne at the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo credit: Urban School.

Exchange programs that were put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic are slowly making a comeback. “One of the reasons for the linguistic exchange is so that students can be immersed in the language, as well as a cultural exchange,” said head of French department, Arnaud Finet. “I think it’s great for students to, after having learned the language for two or three years, actually go and be able to speak it and eat the food from the country. [It’s important] to broaden their horizons overall.”  

The first part of the French exchange program began in Week Seven. 16 students from Lycée Sainte Anne in Brest, France stayed with Urban student host families for ten days. They took classes at Urban and visited SF attractions like Alcatraz, the Palace of Fine Arts and Golden Gate Park. Finet said, “We went to eat burgers, because it’s an American staple. We went to Gott’s and they really liked it. There’s nothing like this in France.” 

The following quotes are from French exchange students sharing their opinions on their time here, and have been edited for clarity. 

Mathilde Charvoz ‘24

What’s your favorite ice cream?

The Very Cherry ice cream.

What did you do here? 

I went to Alcatraz, I visited the Presidio for bowling, otherwise I just did some shopping and other things like that.

What was your favorite thing that you did?

I think the shopping downtown was very good.

What did you get?

Clothes and gifts for my family and my friends.

Were you afraid of anything coming to the U.S.?

No, nothing special.

Clémentine Philippe ‘24

What’s your favorite ice cream?


What was your favorite thing that you did? 

I went to the [California] Academy of Sciences. I went to [an Urban] class also so it was nice to discover how it was.

What is the biggest difference between here and your school? 

I think the time when we start and end school. 

Was there anything you were scared of when you came to the U.S.?

[I was scared to] speak English and also to be in a [host] family, but they were really nice. 

Lana Marc-Latronchette ‘24

What was your favorite thing that you did?

[Going to] the Palace of Fine Arts. When we visited, it was just so gorgeous.

Were you scared of anything coming to the U.S.?

I was not. I was just so excited to discover things.

What is the biggest difference between the U.S. and France?

I would say, the way that people talk to each other. When you meet someone here, the people are just so welcoming, and friendly with you. 

What is it like at your school?

It’s not the same. We have like eight hours of school a day. It’s much longer and the classes are less fun.

Is there anything you would like to tell Urban?

I just wanted to say that I had such a great time. I’m so grateful, so thank you.