Aix-en-Provence is located approximately 30 kilometers north of Marseille and the Mediterranean coast. The region is famous for its Gallo-Roman ruins, picturesque hillside villages, beautiful abbeys, and lively markets. Its natural beauty and pleasant climate make it an ideal location for hiking and other outdoor activities. Aix lies at the foot of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, immortalized by Paul Cézanne, a native of Aix. The population of Aix is close to 145,000.
Wellesley-in- Aix participants generally appreciate the informal nature and openness of the Provençal people; the relaxed pace of daily life in Aix; and proximity to major sites, such as the spectacular coastal cliffs or calanques between Marseille and Cassis, the Roman arenas in Arles and Orange, and World Heritage sites like Avignon. The sunny climate and easy access to Spain, Italy and North Africa also make southern France a desirable place to live and provides an interesting contrast to Paris and the north.
All Wellesley-in-Aix students are enrolled at Aix-Marseille University (AMU) and/or the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po-Aix). Aix-Marseille University is the largest university in France and second only to the University of Paris in the areas of French literature, history, linguistics and neuroscience, for example. AMU also houses the Center for Mediterranean Studies, among other research centers.
In addition to the many cultural and artistic events, sports like hiking, kayaking and biking, among others, are also popular in the Aix region. We encourage students to join a club or team and to take advantage of organized activities like hiking, yoga and dance classes or cooking and wine-tasting classes. Joining a chorus or musical group, being part of sports team, taking pottery or photography lessons, or doing volunteer work, for example, are excellent ways to meet French people and improve your language skills while having fun. Individual cultural stipends allow WIA students to be reimbursed for activities of their choice in French.
Once students are acclimated in Aix, they frequently enjoy exploring nearby cities and regions easily accessible by train or bus, such as Marseille, Nice, Lyon, Grenoble, and Montpellier. Each semester, the program organizes a weekend trip to a nearby region as well as a few day trips in Provence and other group activities. Destinations have included Lyon, Arles and the Camargue, the island of Porquerolles, Avignon and les Baux de Provence, the villages of Gordes and Roussillon, and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of trips organized by Sciences Po or other student groups.
Housing, Meals & Transportation
The WIA program is headquartered in a converted house located in a residential area about a 10-minute walk from the town center. It is open during regular business hours, and onsite staff are available daily.
The center includes a small library and large common room, a computer room with printers, a fully-equipped kitchen, and an outdoor terrace for student use. Free wireless access is available at the center and in the outdoor area. Students may drop by at their convenience to pick up mail, eat lunch, use the library or printers, work with the program tutor, and speak with staff. Group tutorials, occasional lectures, and group meetings are held in the common room.
The Wellesley-in-Aix staff includes a full-time permanent resident director and program assistant who are available to assist students with all academic, administrative and practical matters. The resident director is the primary emergency contact person on site, handles all academic issues and acts as the liaison between the program and university partners in Aix as well as with the French department and Office of International Studies at Wellesley.
Dr. Monique Fecteau is the resident director of Wellesley-in-Aix. A longtime resident of France, she holds a doctorate in French and Second Language Acquisition from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She has taught in several universities in the U.S. and directed numerous U.S. programs in France since 1987, notably in Paris and Dijon.
Sophie Bussenius, assistant to the Director, is a dual French-U.S. citizen and holds a degree in English from the University of Provence (now AMU). A native of Aix, she has worked with students enrolled in U.S. programs in Aix for over ten years.