You are here : Version Anglaise > News & About > Coming to Lyon and Saint-Étienne > To study > Students Welcome Desk

Assistance with the various aspects of student life


1. What you need to know

Compulsory health cover: French health insurance (Assurance maladie)

The social security scheme consists of several organizations which aim to protect citizens against life’s uncertainties (sickness, old age, unemployment, etc.).

In France, being registered with the French health insurance scheme (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie or CPAM) is compulsory: everyone who lives or works in France in a stable and regular manner receives a social security number. This number can be temporary or permanent, and will enable you to be easily identified with the CPAM and with all other social security organizations.

The French health insurance scheme covers a portion of the expenses associated with visits to a doctor or specialist, medicinal products and hospitalization.

To give you a better understanding, here is a breakdown of the health costs associated with a doctor's consultation.

  • Consultation cost: € 25.00
  • The amount reimbursed by social security: € 17.50
  • Supplementary amount (reimbursed by the complementary health insurance or ‘mutuelle’ – optional): € 7.50
  • Fixed contribution (the amount that the patient is liable to pay): € 1.00

The Carte Vitale

The Carte Vitale is a free card which includes your health insurance number and provides easy access to health care and direct reimbursement. The French health insurance scheme reimburses a portion of the expenses associated with healthcare expenses, such as a visit to the doctor.

If you do not have a Carte Vitale, you are still entitled to this reimbursement; however, you will have to pay for your consultation up-front. You will then be reimbursed a few days or weeks later, on the condition that you provide a treatment form which is filled by the doctor and given to you at the end of the consultation.

Using your Carte Vitale means that there is no need to fill in this treatment form, as the reimbursement request is automatically sent to your health insurance: it is faster and more convenient... But it is not mandatory!

Social Security Number

Your social security number is unique and personal, and it enables you to be easily identified with the CPAM and with all other social security organizations. It is a 15-digit number that is automatically assigned to you when you register with the CPAM; everyone who lives in France must be registered with the CPAM.

A social security number is essential for reimbursing health costs, collecting sick pay and receiving family allowances. It is also used as an identification code to create and connect to your ameli account.

Upon registration, the CPAM may assign you a temporary social security number, in order to have time to thoroughly review your application. This temporary number allows you to be reimbursed for health care expenses by the French health insurance scheme.

Your primary care physician

In order to be effectively reimbursed, you must follow the health insurance scheme’s recommended care pathway: you must choose a primary care physician. They are to prescribe your medication and refer you to see medical specialists... You should ask a doctor if they agree to become your primary care physician; they will then make the request electronically, or give you a form to send to the French health insurance scheme. It is as simple as that – but you must remember that doctors are in very high demand: they do not have to accept you as their patient if they already have too many.

To find the contact details of doctors in your area, visit the handy website:

The care pathway

These are the steps you need to follow for access to care, and to be effectively reimbursed when you see a medical specialist. For this, you must first consult your primary care physician. There are a few exceptions to this rule: gynecologists, psychiatrists (if you are between 16 and 25 years old) and ophthalmologists may be seen without a referral.

Physician consultation fees

Physicians may charge a range of different consultation fees – depending on their specialty and sector (sector 1 or 2), however, your basic health insurance only covers a set amount: any excess fees will be at your expense.

  • A sector 1 physician operates charges the fees that are covered by the basic health insurance scheme: there are no excess fees, except in particular cases (a consultation outside normal working hours for example)
  • A sector 2 physician may charge extra fees in addition to the basic consultation fees (this is often the case in city centers). These extra fees are not reimbursed by the basic health insurance scheme.

Good to know: before making an appointment, you can check which sector a healthcare professional is registered under by visiting the healthcare directory website,

Complementary health insurance / mutuelle

The basic French health insurance scheme reimburses a portion of healthcare fees, but not all: you still have the “complementary portion” (and the fixed contribution) to pay. For optimal health cover, you can opt to take out complementary health insurance – a supplementary health cover known as a “mutuelle”. This is not mandatory, but is strongly recommended: you should choose the complementary health insurance plan that best suits your needs, including any foreseeable healthcare costs, such as glasses, dental braces, etc.

  • CMU-C: Couverture Maladie universelle – Complémentaire
    The CMU-C, or universal health coverage supplement, is a supplementary health cover offered free of charge by the French health insurance scheme to people with low income (for a student living alone, the income threshold is around € 720 per month). As explained on the health insurance website, “The CMU-C gives you the right to free coverage for supplementary healthcare fees. In addition, the CMU-C includes support packages for your dental care, glasses, hearing aids... In real terms, [...] you do not pay your health expenses directly. You are therefore exempt from paying these fees upfront.” It is worth noting that the CMU-C even exempts you from paying the fixed contribution, which all patients should normally pay! It also gives you access to reduced tariffs for electricity, gas and transport. ► Find out more
  • The ACS: Aide au Paiement d’une Complémentaire Santé
    The ACS, or aid towards the payment of supplementary health insurance, is reserved for people with low income, but slightly higher than the CMU-C allocation limit. It entitles you to financial support from the French health insurance scheme in order to pay for your complementary health insurance, exempting you from paying physician’s fees upfront, as well as the fixed contribution. Like the CMU-C, it gives you access to reduced tariffs for electricity and gas (but not transport). ► Find out more
  • Other complementary health insurances (mutuelles):
    If your income does not allow you to claim CMU-C or ACS, you can opt to take out a mutuelle (complementary health insurance) of your choice – once again, be sure to look into the different available offers and choose the one that best suits your healthcare needs.

2. Register

Health protection

As of August 31, 2019, the special student social security scheme will no longer exist, and will be replaced by a single scheme attached to the CPAM of your place of residence.

In France, being registered with the French health insurance scheme is mandatory: students arriving in France for the 2019-2020 academic year must register with the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) by visiting the web page:, exceptions are noted below.

Students who were affiliated with the SMERRA or the LMDE for the 2018-2019 academic year (the student social security schemes) will automatically be affiliated with the CPAM for their place of residence, effective as of August 31, 2019.

This does not concern you:

  • If you are already affiliated through a family member who is an international official, to the social security scheme established by their international organization (for example, the European Union social regime), you should not register on this site.
  • If you are a citizen of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you may apply to your country of origin’s social welfare organization for a European health insurance card (EHIC). As long as it is valid until at least the end of the academic year, your country’s social welfare organization will continue to cover your reimbursements. In case of illness, you will only be liable to pay the fixed contribution, provided that you present this card or the EHIC provisional certificate of issue when consulting health professionals and institutions. You do not have to register on the website
  • If you are a citizen of the Principality of Monaco, before your departure, ask your Monegasque social security organization for a certificate of entitlement, specifying your affiliation to the Monegasque health insurance scheme. You do not have to register on the website. From the moment you arrive in France, you should present this form when consulting health professionals and institutions.

► Find out more

3. Healthcare advice

  • Each year, the Students Welcome Desk, in partnership with Lyon’s health services, publishes a small practical guide which gives you a list of useful numbers (family planning clinics, dental surgeries, etc.). You can download the PDF version in the “Useful documents” section
  • All insured individuals have the right to a free annual health check. To make an appointment for your free annual check-up, contact your local healthcare clinic.

4. Contacts and useful links

Healthcare address book: essential contacts
  • Health information and access to healthcare with the SWD: Health info Bus (check the SWD program with the Health info Bus opening hours!)
  • Assurance maladie, CMU: Rhône CPAM, foreign students
  • Psychological support (stress, sleep, etc.): Apsytude
  • Free health check-ups: Rhône healthcare clinics
  • SUMPPS: The University Services of Preventive Medicine and Promotion of Health (Services Universitaires de Médecine Préventive et de Promotion de la Santé – SUMPPS), also called “Preventive Medicine” or “Student Health Centers”, can be found on campus or on your Institution’s website.


Getting around Lyon

Public Transport in Lyon: TCL

Public transport is the easiest way to get around the Greater Lyon area! The public transport network serves Lyon and its surrounding areas; the various modes of transport (bus, metro and tram) make traveling around this area much easier.

There are several rates according to how frequently you travel: single tickets, ticket bundles, “evening” or “weekend” tickets; but the easiest solution is the monthly pass, which gives you unlimited access to the entire TCL network. The student rate for this monthly pass is € 31.80/month – you simply need to swipe your personal card each time you use any form of public transport. To sign up for this monthly pass, contact your local public transport office (Bellecour, Grange Blanche) or visit the website (the TCL card itself costs €5.00).


Do you prefer traveling in the open air? Lyon is relatively well equipped for bikes; the city also offers a turnkey solution for both amateur and experienced cyclists: the Vélo’v. These self-service bicycles are available throughout the city: you can pick up your bike from one of the terminals, and then drop it off at any other collection point once you have completed your journey.

There are several options for using the Vélo’v: the ‘one-way’ ticket, which costs € 1.80, and allows you to use the Vélo'v for 30 minutes. The ‘one-day’ ticket, which costs € 4.00, and allows you to enjoy unlimited journeys for a 24 hour period, with 30 minutes free-of-charge per journey. Extra costs will be charged if you exceed 30 minutes in one journey.

There is also an annual subscription for frequent users: if you are aged between 14 and 25 years old, this costs only € 16.50 and allows unlimited use of the Vélo’v bicycles for 30 minutes per trip.

If you would rather ride your own bike, it is worth noting that there are many events such as “bike exchanges” in Lyon and its surrounding areas; in addition, there are several specialist bike repair organizations which will teach you to fix your bike yourself, and at a lower cost!

Self-service electric scooters

There are several electric scooter rental services throughout the city. These services usually work with an app that displays the location of the nearest scooters and charges your credit or debit card. You should inquire directly with the electric scooter rental service providers, as the rates and conditions of use can vary. Be sure to respect the safety rules and instructions!

Car rental

Do you occasionally need a car? Consider using a car-sharing service: you simply need to sign up to gain access to vehicles from companies such as Bluely or LPA. What’s more, you can reserve your parking spot in the return station to avoid any unpleasant surprises.


  • Public transport networks in Lyon: TCL
  • Self-service bike rental: Vélo’v, Indigo Weel
  • Self-service car rental: Bluely, LPA
  • Lyon travel update and information service: ONLYMOOV
  • Specialist bike repair and maintenance organizations: La P’tite Rustine


The French academic system enables students to change majors or to resume their studies. There are many bridges between diplomas, training programs and different ways to embark on a new educational path, with specialists there to advise you.

  • University information and support services: Your institutions’ SCUIO
  • Understanding higher education in France: Campus France
  • Resource website: ONISEP

Leisure & tourism

Lyon and its region are full of historic and must-see places to discover! Whether you prefer the city or nature, the tourist attractions, cultural offerings and sporting opportunities will certainly surprise you. Special student memberships and rates will allow you to explore the region at a discount!

Employment & entrepreneurship

1. Useful information

Before seeking employment, be sure to check that your residence permit allows you to work. Generally speaking, a “student” residence permit allows you to work up to 60% of the legal working hours (50% if you are from Algeria). In France, this is set at 35 hours per week.


DIRECCTE is a body that reports to the Ministry of Work, which considers and then provides work permits for people who request them.

If you are a student, your residence permit may include the line “autorise le travail à titre accessoire” (“allowed to work part-time”). In this case, you do not have to request a permit.

For all other cases (apprenticeships, changes to your student status as an employee, etc.), you must request a permit from DIRECCTE. If you are an Algerian citizen, you must request a permit, regardless of your situation and even if you are a student.


There are several types of employment contracts in France. Please note: you are not allowed to work without signing a contract. Read it carefully before signing: it contains a number of elements governing your work (salary, holiday, terms of resignation/dismissal, etc.).

  • A temporary work contract for short, ad hoc assignments (a few hours or a few days)
  • A fixed-term contract (CDD) for short assignments (a few weeks or months) which end on a set date stipulated in the work contract.
  • An open-ended contract (CDI) for long assignments which have no pre-determined end date.

► Find out more

2. Finding a job

Several organizations can help you in your job hunt, and regularly issue job offers and advice. You can contact the CRIJ Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, who specialize in young people's employment. You can also visit the Jobaviz website, developed by the Crous (Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires), which features job advertisements for students.

Are you an international student? Remember your strengths: do not hesitate to look for jobs in tourism, private foreign language lessons, childcare or catering!

3. Contacts


1. Choosing your accommodation

Should you choose a private rental, or go through an agency?

The first decision you must make when looking for accommodation is whether to look through an agency, which offers a wide selection of options, but whose processing fees are sometimes excessive? Or should you look more closely at private housing offers offered by private individuals?

The important thing is to be wary of any proposals that are either too expensive (for example, a studio apartment at €800 per month is far too expensive for the city of Lyon), or offers which are too cheap, which could be a scam. Sometimes, it is much easier to go through an agency. However, this will increase your costs, and some practices may be fraudulent: you should never pay to get a list of available apartments, this practice is illegal!

You should consider what you want, your budget, and the availability of apartments.


Apartment-sharing allows several unrelated tenants to live together. It has many advantages, especially in terms of living expenses.The rental fees, housing tax, deposit and even food shopping costs can be shared.However, you must be prepared to live with others. There are of course many benefits to living together, but everyone is also responsible and must share expenses.

You can find examples of apartment-sharing offers on the sites or

Do not hesitate to post a request on your universities’ Facebook groups!

Public or private student housing

The Crous is a public service which offers low-rent student housing, amongst other things.A room of 9 m² (100 sq. ft.) costs approximately €170 per month, all-inclusive; with a shared bathroom and kitchen.Keep in mind that the Crous accommodations are in high demand, and applications are made during the month of April preceding the start of the academic year.

A number of private student housing offers are available, with higher rents. Their advantage is that the studio apartments are often relatively new and contain everything you need.

The benefit of student accommodation is being in the heart of a student community, while having your own private space!

Solidarity housing

Apartment-sharing is for all ages! Several organizations invite students to try “intergenerational housing”, where you rent an unoccupied room in a senior citizen's home.Why? Cheaper rent and a beautiful living and sharing experience. Find out more on the organization's website Le Pari Solidaire or in our contacts list (see below).

2. Understanding the procedures / advice

Guarantors VISALE

To secure an apartment, you will need one or more guarantors – the guarantor agrees to pay your rent in the event that you are unable to pay. This is an additional guarantee for the landlord.

VISALE is a guarantee granted to the tenant by Action Logement, which will pay the rent and all rental expenses related to the main residence in the event that the tenant is unable to pay. This scheme makes it easier to access new accommodation, by reassuring the landlord.It replaces the CLE (Student Rental Caution) which was previously managed by the Crous and had a similar purpose.

With this guarantee, tenants can secure a home more easily by reassuring their future landlord. It is a simple, fast and free online service.To find out if you are eligible and to apply for a VISALE, visit the website

Entering an apartment: deposit and inventory

Upon entering an apartment, each tenant must pay a deposit, equivalent to one month's rent. This amount is retained until the end of the lease and may be used if the accommodation has been damaged by the tenant. If this is not the case, it will be returned to the tenant within three months of leaving the accommodation.

It is therefore extremely important to pay attention to the inventory when you enter the apartment: before taking up occupancy, you will conduct a survey with a professional, in order to record the accommodation’s existing wear and tear. Pay close attention, as the initial inventory is usually done rather quickly, whereas the exit inventory is extremely thorough, and each defect/fault will be recorded. Therefore, it is important to make a note of all the things that seem unusual to you, no matter how small, and to record even the most minor of faults. Bring a friend or trusted person with you if you need to!

Please note that when taking up occupancy, you have several weeks to amend the inventory, if you notice any other abnormalities at the beginning of your tenancy.

Housing tax

Housing tax is a tax paid to the city. It is to be paid in November and is applicable to all the tenants who occupied the accommodation as of January 1 for that year, even if they have relocated during that year. Its amount is approximately one month's rent, but may vary depending on your accommodation and its environment, i.e. the size of the apartment, its proximity to public transport, amenities, etc. Remember to set some money aside on a regular basis in anticipation.

Home insurance

Similar to your health, it is imperative that you insure your home against various risks (weather, water damage, etc.). On average, this insurance costs less than one hundred Euros per year, and can be taken out with different organizations: private insurance, banks etc.

Tenants' rights

Renting an apartment comes with responsibilities – paying the rent on time, maintaining the apartment, not causing damage, respecting neighbors – but it also comes with rights, which are sometimes overlooked. For any questions or disputes concerning your accommodation or interactions with your landlord/agency, you can get in touch with the ADIL, an organization of lawyers who will guide you and answer your questions for free.

Housing benefits: APL – Caf

The Family Allowances Office (Caf) is the organization which issues the A.P.L.(Personal Housing Allowance).This is the main type of aid offered to tenants in order to help them pay their rent.Its amount is calculated based on your financial resources, your apartment’s rental fees, its size and its location.

You can apply for an allowance online, on the website.

It is important to note that the first allowance installment will not be paid immediately; you will have to wait one full month after taking up occupancy.For example, if you move in on September 15, you will have to wait until early November to receive your A.P.L., since you will have to prove one full month of occupancy; in this case, the month of October.

3. Contact information