The top job opportunities in France in 2013

Don't believe everything you read about unemployment in France - there are jobs out there. For this week’s installment of The Local’s JobTalk series, we bring you the sectors looking to hire in 2013. Whether you are looking for a career or seasonal work, read on.

The top job opportunities in France in 2013
File photo: Elin B/Flickr

Are you curious about a move to France, but unsure where your skills and experience are needed? Are you about to graduate from university, and considering a working summer? Or do you already live in France but think it’s time to change paths?

Whatever your career level, and whether you’re a veteran with an established career, or looking for an adventure as a seasonal worker, it’s always essential to know which sectors and industries are hiring, and who is hiring the most.

One company looking to make a splash on the jobs market in 2013, for example is McDonald's. The American fast food giant announced last week that it planned to create a whopping 43,000 positions.

If flipping burgers doesn't sound like fun to you, though, thankfully The Local can offer you a breakdown of everything you need to know about what jobs are in demand, and where to focus your job search in the coming months, using current data from France’s national employment agency, Pole Emploi.


Science, research and development

The year 2013 is remains a good time for English-speakers to find work in France’s engineering, scientific and R & D sectors, according to Dr. Vincent Mignotte, director of ABG Intelli’agence, a Paris-based recruitment agency for qualified, highly-skilled scientists.

“There is a particularly big demand here in the engineering, informatics and electronics sectors, especially among smaller companies, but also among large, international companies like Michelin, Total and Saint-Gobain, and the demand is increasing,” Mignotte told The Local.

Furthermore, English-speaking physicists, engineers, and chemists, for example, have a big advantage in France, according to Mignotte.

“In the hard sciences, all the research and literature is in English, and in a typical R & D centre, English is the main language used, especially in multinational companies.”

While learning French is something that will ultimately be necessary, Mignotte says it would be quite possible for an Anglophone scientist to start work and then learn the language.

For all your scientific career needs, go to the English version of the ABG Intelli’agence website.


Getting your hands dirty

One area of the French economy that is crying out for extra pairs of hands is the wine-growing and farming sector. If you fancy working on your tan and working up a sweat, picking grapes and other fruit is a very easy gig to get, but can be tough, physical work.

The pay isn’t high by any means, and if you’ve come to France without a permit – something The Local does not recommend – watch out for unscrupulous employers who’ll pay you below minimum wage.

According to Pole Emploi, between the wine and farm industries, there are over 150,000 jobs out there this year, though most will be short-term, and focused around the grape harvest in early August. Here is an online resource for finding agricultural and viticultural jobs in France this summer.



Two sectors featuring in the top ten of this year’s list are the restaurant/café business, and the hotel industry, which are looking to hire a total of just under 100,000 workers.

The large majority of these jobs are seasonal only, so unless you already have a foot in the door in a French hostelry or restaurant, these positions might be better suited to temporary summer workers.

A summer job in a French café might seem like the perfect arrangement, but be aware that your level of French should be quite high, in order to recite wine lists, remember orders, and placate grumpy customers. Otherwise, it might be better to do a stint as a dishwasher while quickly getting your language skills up to scratch.

If you're interested in bringing your skills and experience to a French hotel, try this top level recruitment agency

The 15 most sought-after workers this year.

1.       Wine and fruit growers and pickers – 92,682 openings

2.       Maintenance technicians (including nursery assistants) – 76,723 openings

3.       Restaurant and café servers (including commis waiters) – 66,446 openings

4.       Social and cultural activities leader – 64,369 openings

5.       Multi-skilled assistants, trainees and food workers – 63,769 openings

6.       Farm workers – 61,883 openings

7.       Domestic carers and in-home helpers – 54,311 openings

8.       Care-givers (psychiatric, medical, childcare) – 40,776 openings

9.       Retail staff (Apparel, luxury and sporting goods) – 30,326 openings

10.     Hotel staff – 29,970 openings

11.     Cooks –29,558 openings

12.    Check-out assistants – 27,638 openings

13.     Engineers, research and development managers – 26,665 openings

14.     Unqualified packing and warehouse workers – 26,571 openings

15.     Artists (musicians, dancers, teachers) – 26,507 openings


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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.