‘Unique’ Paris proves a big pull for expat workers

Paris has taken bronze medal in a major new survey of desirable destinations for expat workers. It shows the French capital is still a huge pull for foreign workers, despite all the economic doom and gloom. Although they may not be coming for their career.

'Unique' Paris proves a big pull for expat workers
Paris's uniqueness continues to pull in expats, according to a new global study. Shutterstock

While all the talk is often about French people going abroad to make a life for themselves, their home country and in particular its capital continue to pull foreigners in the opposite direction.

A new global survey released this week revealed that Paris is the world’s third most desirable city for expats to work in, behind London and New York.

The survey carried out by Boston Consulting Group and employment website saw 200,000 people interviewed across 188 countries.

While Paris received 8.9 percent of the vote, London received a much bigger thumbs up with 16 percent of the vote and New York picking up 12.2 percent.

Sydney, Madrid, Berlin, Barcelona, Toronto, Singapore and Rome made up the rest of the top ten.

The reason London and New York topped the poll was, in the eyes of the survey’s authors, no big surprise.

“In addition to being global centres of business and culture, London and New York have the biggest foreign-born populations of any cities in the world,” the report said.

While the survey noted that expats will head to certain cities for their careers – “Zurich for bankers, LA for aspiring film directors and Singapore for international customs brokers” – it is not just a furthering of their professional lives that propel people to move abroad.

"Mobile workers are not focused strictly on their careers. They are equally interested in broadening their life experience—and that can impel them toward cities where there is more freedom than in their home countries," the survey said.

SEE ALSO: Ten reasons why Paris is better than London

In the case of Paris, the attraction is the sheer "uniqueness" of the city that gives it "an almost mystical appeal" and the contrast to other cities.

That argument would be backed up by many expats in the city.

“I had always wanted to live in Paris. I think what really attracted me was the lifestyle, which is very different to London, where I was living,” Paris based Irish expat Thomas Butler told The Local.

But naturally moving to Paris for work is not always easy as many foreigners find out.

“You have to throw yourself in at the deep end and realize it’s not going to be easy for you. People need to be prepared for that,” says Butler.

SEE ALSO: Top ten dream jobs in France for expats

“I think the best advice is to be well-prepared. People should try and have a basic level of language before they come here. The thing about living in Paris is that it’s a complicated city to live in.

“Of course it’s possible to do it on a whim, but just be prepared for the difficulties.”

In terms of the country as a whole France also scored fairly highly in the study.

Although the US is the country where the biggest number of foreigners surveyed would be willing to work (42 percent), followed by the UK (37 percent), Canada (35 percent) and Germany (33 percent).

France came in sixth place (29 percent) just ahead of Australia (28 percent).

In terms of where the French themselves would prefer to go when moving abroad, the United States proved to be the most attractive country, followed by Canada and then the UK.

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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.