This is the option that offers the most independence and flexibility.

The private rental market offers a wide choice of options, such as living close to the social and cultural attractions of France's lively city centers. Private rentals are most suited to students who are independent and already well-adapted to French life.

You may rent space directly from a property owner or through a rental agency.

If you rent through an agency, you will have to pay fees equal to a little more than a month's rent. Apartments may be rented empty or furnished. Unless you have a friend, family member, or other contact in the area in which you intend to live, it is usually very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to find a suitable rental before you arrive in France. 

Once you arrive, you can ask the housing office at your new institution or one of the international student support services found in many university cities to help you in your search for housing.

You can expected to be asked to sign a 1-year rental contract. You may cancel your contract early provided you give at least 3 month's notice for unfurnished apartment or 1 month for a furnished apartment.

The need for a guarantor is a problem for many international students. In some cities and regions, nonprofit organizations and local governments have devised arrangements that provide property owners with the necessary guarantee.

Property owners with space available often post notices in the housing offices of local educational institutions, with the city's international student service office, or with CROUS, the regional student service agency.