Finding a job in France

From longer holidays to a better quality of life, the appeal of working in France is clear. Those who want to live the dream will find that the road ahead is steep, but prior planning and a structured approach can work miracles, explains Clea Caulcutt.

Finding a job in France
Alex Raths

Whether it’s about living it up in the fashion capital (and political, commercial and every other kind of capital) Paris, or savouring life on the Riviera, there are thousands of reasons why foreigners want to work in France.   

But high unemployment, sluggish growth and anti-immigrant sentiment means settling in France is a challenge. Preparing your move well ahead is key. And remember – EU citizens have a head start.

Job seeking sources

Foreigners looking for a job will usually start online. Remember, though, that networking is of the utmost importance in France. As a fresh face in the crowd, you must start building up your professional network. Join trade associations, go to job or industry fairs, get involved in your community and meet people.

There are also good websites that can help you find a job

The Local’s jobs section has comprehensive listings of jobs for English speakers across the country.

France’s employment agency publishes ads at Pôle Emploi. Also check out Craigslist and Monster.

For qualified jobs, look at the jobs pages on Le Figaro  and Le Monde.

In Paris, you may also explore Le Parisien and Fusac for English-speakers. Elsewhere in France, buy your local newspapers and find out which one has the best jobs section.

Be aware that there will often be a couple of websites dedicated to your industry with job listings.

Language requirements

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In France, it is crucial to speak French. Nationals are particularly sensitive to this, and will take offence if you don’t try. So start honing your language skills before moving. Once you arrive, sign up for a cheap language class subsidised by local authorities. Your local town or city council will have information.

There are a lot of work opportunities for native English speakers, whether it’s as a translator, call centre operator, teacher or tourist guide.

In some international companies, very exceptionally, employees will speak English.


EU/EFTA member states: if you are a citizen of one of these countries (with the exceptions of Bulgaria and Romania) you are allowed to work, bring your family and enjoy most of the same rights as French people. Swiss citizens are also allowed to settle. 

Non EU/EFTA member states: if you are not a citizen of an EU or EFTA member state, you will find it extremely difficult to work in France. The bureaucratic process is very long and employers are not encouraged to employ non-EU nationals. You will have to prove you have something nationals don’t have.

Non-EU members must find a job before they apply for a work permit. But in reality this is often a Catch-22. You need a job to get a work permit and often employers won’t hire you if you don’t have a work permit.

If you do find a company willing to employ you, they will apply for your work permit and visa de long séjour (long stay visa). Only then can you move to France and apply for a carte de séjour (residence permit).

You can also come to France on a tourist visa – for up to 90 days – to check out the job market. If you do find a job, you will still have to leave the country and come back on a visa de long séjour.

The French Interior Ministry has recently tightened immigration rules, which means local authorities increasingly refuse to give work permits to foreigners who have found jobs in France. These new measures have hit qualified workers particularly hard.

Given the tough immigration rules, you may want to find a company that can transfer you to France. They will also deal with your paperwork.

Working holiday visa: Some non-EU members may want to apply for a working holiday visa which allows you to work in France for up to a year. Applicants must be aged 18 to 30 years old and come from a participant country (Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea). There are a limited number of visas available. See the French embassy in your country to obtain information.

Red tape

Do not underestimate how difficult dealing with the French bureaucracy can be. Red tape is profuse. When dealing with the authorities, you will need a lot of patience. Also be prepared to wait in queues, be given inaccurate information and generally waste time.

You must also learn that an initial “no” to a request can sometimes turn into a “yes” if you spend enough time trying to sort things out. Once you have cleared the administrative hurdles, you will also begin to appreciate France’s great healthcare, good social benefits and subsidised access to education, sport facilities and cultural activities.

It’s important to bear in mind that dealing with immigration authorities can be particularly difficult.


Workers in France are expected to process their own tax contributions. This means you must download a tax form and fill it in. Next, look for your local tax collection centre by entering your postal address on this page.

Lastly, approach your local tax office and drop off your form.

Once you have filed your first tax application, you will be registered and sent a tax form automatically.


The rise of the far right party the National Front betrays the fact that a substantial segment of the French population is suspicious of globalisation and immigration – and this is having a direct effect on people wanting to move here. Over the past decades, moving to France has become more and more difficult for non-EU nationals. Most French people however do not share the National Front’s ideas and are very open to meeting foreigners.

Integrating and making friends may also take time. Some expats are bitterly disappointed and find locals frosty and unwelcoming. If you want to make friends beyond the expat circles, you will have to take an active interest in your community. France’s civil society network is thriving and joining an association or a sports club is a good idea.

For members


How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.