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Top Universities in France

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France boasts 35 entrants in the QS World University Tops® 2019, 11 of which are among the world's 300 best universities. Think you’d like to study in the land of croissants, champagne and camembert? Here’s a closer look at the country’s best universities.

10. Université Paris Diderot - Paris 7

Université Paris Diderot

Up 10 places in this year’s QS World University Tops, Université Paris Diderot is now France’s 10th highest ranked university at joint 295th place. It’s set to merge with Université Paris Descartes in January 2019 to form the new cutting-edge Université de Paris.

9. Université Grenoble-Alpes

 Université Grenoble-Alpes

The Université Grenoble-Alpes is ranked joint 289th in the world this year and was formed as recently as January 2016 through a merger, but its founding institutions date back much further – as far as 1339 in the case of Pierre Mendès-France University.

8. École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech, is up seven places to rank 263rd in the world this year. It’s one of the smaller French universities, with just over 2,000 students studying here. The university is another founding member of ParisTech.

7. Université Paris-Sud 11

Université Paris-Sud 11

Université Paris-Sud 11, another Parisian institution, is spread across four campuses in the southern suburbs of the city. It’s particularly renowned for its science and mathematics courses and is ranked joint 239th in the world in 2019.

6. Sciences Po

Sciences Po

Sciences Po, a university that specializes in law, economics, social science, politics, history and related fields, is ranked joint 221st in the world in 2019. It has around 13,000 students, of which almost half are international, with 150 nationalities represented on campus.

5. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

Continuing to improve its position globally, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is ranked 153rd in the world this year, up four places from last year. Another of the grande écoles, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is an elite public institution which trains researchers and teachers in the humanities and sciences.

4. CentraleSupélec


CentraleSupélec climbed an impressive 40 places in 2019, to now be placed 137th in the world. It was formed by the 2015 merger of École Centrale Paris and the Supélec graduate school of engineering and is a founding member of the Université Paris-Saclay, an association of research-intensive French universities.

3. Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University

A new institution, formed by the 2018 merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University, Sorbonne University is ranked joint 75th in the world in 2019 and achieves its strongest score in the academic reputation indicator (one of the six used to compile the rankings).

2. Ecole Polytechnique (ParisTech)

Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech

École Polytechnique is ranked 65th in the world in 2019 and is the founding member of the ParisTech collegiate university, which specializes in science and business courses. Located 30km outside the Paris city center, the campus offers 120 hectares of green space for its 4,600 students to enjoy.

1. Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)

Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)

We have a new entry at number one in our ranking of the best universities in France this year. Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL) is a collegiate university which was formed in 2010 and is made up of nine constituent colleges, including the highly selective École normale supérieure (ENS Paris).

PSL achieves its strongest score in the employer reputation indicator, and maintains strong links with employers as well as strategic partnerships with other prestigious universities around the world.


Université de Strasbourg

The remaining best universities in France are:

  1. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne – ranked joint 299th in the world.
  2. Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan– ranked 305thin the world, up 25 places.
  3. Université de Strasbourg– ranked 348th in the world.
  4. Université de Montpellier– ranked joint 422ndin the world.
  5. Université Aix-Marseille– ranked joint 453rd in the world.
  6. Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA)– ranked joint 478th in the world.
  7. Université de Bordeaux – ranked joint 489th in the world.

After the top 500, the ranking continues in ranges, starting at 501-510, continuing up to 801-1000. Click here for more information.

  1. Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III – ranked 521-530 in the world.
  2. Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2)– ranked 531-540 in the world.
  3. Université Paris Descartes– ranked 571-580 in the world.
  4. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 – ranked 601-650 in the world.

=22. Université de Lille – ranked 651-700 in the world.

=22. Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis – ranked 651-700 in the world.

  1. Université de Rennes 1 – ranked 701-750 in the world.

The remaining 11 French universities are all ranked 801-1000 in the world, making them joint 25th in France:

=25. Université de Caen Basse-Normandie

=25. Université de Cergy-Pontoise

=25. Université de Lorraine

=25. Université de Nantes

=25. Université de Poitiers

=25. Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3

=25. Université Lumière Lyon 2

=25. Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

=25. Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3

=25. Université Toulouse 1, Capitole

=25. University Toulouse – Jean Jaurès

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This article was originally published in September 2016. It was last updated in June 2018.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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