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JOBS

The jobs in France where you don’t really need to speak French

If you are looking to find work in France but don't yet speak the language, never fear - there are plenty of jobs you can do while you're learning.

The jobs in France where you don't really need to speak French
Learn French, but be aware that you don't always need it to get a job in France. Photo: AFP

It’s clearly easier to navigate everyday life and to find work in France if you speak French. But if you want to move while you’re still learning there are plenty of jobs where fluent French is not a requirement – and some of them will help you polish your language skills as you earn.

Nanny/au pair

This has long been one of the most popular routes for young people to come to France and learn French, while earning enough money to keep body and soul together.

English-speaking nannies are popular with many families, as you can give the kids a basic grounding in English which will stand them in good stead later in life, while they teach you some French.

The au pair route is the more formalised version of this – you stay with a host family who pay you a nominal amount but also take care of bills, food etc and you look after the kids as well as taking formal French lessons. So common is this that there is a dedicated au pair visa, if you’re coming from a non-EU country.

If you don’t fit the criteria for an au pair, or prefer not to live in, you can find work as a nanny or childminder instead.

READ ALSO 7 things to know before becoming an au pair in France

Freelance Writing/Editing

Looking for a job where you don’t even have to leave your bedroom? Working as a freelance writer/translator/editor could just be for you, then, and there are a wealth of companies eager to make their content understandable for the rest of the world.
 
Some are just after native speakers – you don’t even need experience writing before. While you might need to be able to read French for some positions, some jobs will just have you correcting English texts, already written by French people. 

Remote working

The rise in remote working means that for some jobs, it is possible to move to France and keep your old job back home, simply working remotely online from France.

Likewise, you could move to France and work remotely and in English for a company in another country, an option that is especially popular for journalists, copy-writers, digital or social media sector workers or teachers offering online tuition.

While this is undoubtedly a practical option, you do need to check out the implications for your residency and tax status of living in one country and working in another.

READ ALSO Working remotely from France: What are the rules for foreigners?

Bartender

Often considered the golden ticket of a non-French speaking job, this is a great opportunity to practice your colloquial French when you work up the courage to chat with customers.

In the big cities, there are often English or Irish bars that have a predominantly English-speaking clientele, and French young people often like to frequent pubs like this because it gives them a chance to speak in English.

If you’re in a smaller town you might find it a bit harder to find these and will need to speak at least some French, but the advantage of bar work is that you can start off just knowing the basics like the name of drinks, French numbers (for prices) and whether or not your business accepts contactless card payments (sans contact).

As your confidence grows you can branch out a bit and you’ll really learn to speak French as the locals speak it.

English teacher

Statistically, if you meet a non-French speaking expat in France who isn’t a bartender or nanny, then they’re highly likely to be an English teacher.

This can range from teaching at one of the universities or language schools to giving private lessons – either in-person or online.

The advantage of this is that classes are conducted entirely in English to help the students learn, so you can concentrate on their grammar mistakes and not worry about your own.

The disadvantage is that there are a lot of English-speakers in France – especially in Paris – chasing these positions, and language schools know this, so the wages are often very low.

READ ALSO How to move to France on an English-teaching programme

Tour guide

Are you a good speaker with a good memory and a penchant for facts? Then you sound like the ideal tour guide.

France is the most visited tourist destination on earth – and those non-French-speaking tourists often need to a good guide. 

While many English-speakers work as certified guides with travel companies that give you a ‘script’ to follow, there’s also the option of relying on your impressive knowledge to land yourself a job.

Speaking an extra language besides English can be a big advantage too.

But be warned, taking 20 people around the Notre Dame Cathedral is no easy task.

READ ALSO 7 ridiculous stories from French history that your guides love to tell

Ski instructor

The biggest skill set here isn’t knowing how to navigate a language – it’s how to navigate the slopes.

If you want to work as a ski instructor in France you will need to have the relevant qualifications in place, and your qualifications need to be recognised in France in order for you to get work teaching. If you qualified in an EU country this is not a problem but if your certificates were earned in a non-EU country such as the UK or USA, it’s likely that they won’t be recognised in France.

If you don’t have the relevant qualifications to be a ski instructor, there are plenty of other seasonal jobs in ski resorts that have traditionally been popular with young people seeking short-term work and some travel/adventure.

However, be warned the competition for jobs is often fierce and if you’re coming from a non-EU country you will need a visa and work permit in place, and most companies offering short-term work in the ski industry do not sponsor visas. Some countries, including Canada, have bilateral agreements with France to offer ‘seasonal workers visas’ but these are not available to everyone. 

If you do get a job the pay is likely to be low and the hours long – but there’s usually a lively social scene and plenty of skiing on offer, so while you won’t make your fortune you will probably have fun.

READ ALSO What are the rules on short-term and seasonal work in France?

Practicalities

If you have the passport of an EU country then you have the right to move to France to live and to work, and do not need to apply for a residency card.

If you’re from a non-EU country such as the UK, USA or Australia, then you will need a visa if you intend to stay in France for longer than 90 days. The type of visa you will need varies depending on what you want to do once you get here. Although much of the administrative process is in the French, there is no formal language requirement in order to get a French visa.

Check out our Moving to France section for more.

If you’re intending to work freelance or remotely, you have the option to set up as a micro-entrepreneur (formerly known as autoentrepreneur) which offers a simplified tax and registration process for small businesses and freelancers.

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For members

WORKING IN FRANCE

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

Age

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

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. 

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