If you’re hoping to study in France, you’ll want to know which universities are the best.
So what are the top French universities and colleges? According to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2019, 34 French institutions are counted among the top universities in the world.
The ranking includes eight institutions in Paris – the most represented city in France – and other options scattered around the country.
Best universities worldwide
Universities in Paris take the top five spots, but institutions in Lyon, Marseilles, Grenoble and Toulouse also feature in the top 10.
The best university in France is Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris, a collegiate university formed of 25 research and higher education institutions in the Paris area and three national research institutions.
Outside Paris, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is in sixth position.
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Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris is made up of 25 higher education institutions and research centres in the Paris area. It was formed in April 2010 by five prominent French institutions: the École Normale Supérieure, the Collège de France, the Paris Observatory, Chimie ParisTech and ESPCI ParisTech.
The institutions under the umbrella of the university are a mixture of older institutions that were established during the Enlightenment period and new institutions.
The university's main aim is to establish itself as one of the top research institutions in the world. The institution has also developed links with other top-ranking institutions around the world including the University of Cambridge, UCL, Peking University and National Taiwan University.
A total of 26 Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, literature, physiology and medicine and economics have been awarded to researchers from the university.
Sorbonne University is a public research university in Paris. It was established in 2018 through the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University, Pierre and Marie Curie University and a number of smaller institutions.
The university has three faculties: humanities, science and medicine. Law is taught by Panthéon-Assas University (Paris 2).
Sorbonne has a number of campuses across Paris, as well as a satellite campus in Abu Dhabi.
The university is home to eight notable scientific collections open to researchers. Some of the collections are also open to the public, such as the minerals, paleontology and zoology collections.
École Polytechnique focuses specifically on science and technology. The motto of the school is “For the Homeland, Science and Glory”.
There are fewer than 3,000 students at the university, which is based in the suburb of Palaiseau, just over 10 miles from the centre of Paris.
Despite the small intake, about 30 per cent of the student body is international, with one Spanish student explaining that international students get special attention and preparatory programmes.
École Polytechnique offers an interdisciplinary approach, providing a curriculum that combines undergraduate teaching with graduate research across a range of disciplines.
In addition to six science and engineering subjects, undergraduates are also required to take a humanities subject and sports.
Undergraduate admission requires two years of preparation during high school before a week of written exams and an oral examination.
French nationals are obliged to do eight months of military service in their first year, since the university is officially run by the Ministry of Defence.
Paris Diderot University adopted its current name in 1994 and was named after the 18th century French philosopher, art critic and writer Denis Diderot.
The university is best known for teaching in science, especially in mathematics. This is reflected in the achievements of alumni, including two Nobel prize laureates, two Fields Medal winners, and two former French ministers of education.
The central library is the largest university library in Paris.
There are many student associations, as well as a number of unusual sports clubs such as acrobatics, circus arts, French boxing and jazz gymnastics.
Best universities in France 2019
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2019 results.
Read more: Best universities in the world