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The jobs you can do in France (if you don’t want to teach English)

Are you an English speaker in France? From positions that are sporty to those that are academic or creative, here's a comprehensive overview of the employment options you may not have considered.

The jobs you can do in France (if you don't want to teach English)
Photo: AFP
It's no secret that many native English speakers in France end up working teaching their mother tongue to locals. Teaching English is a great way to get established in France and a worthy profession.
But if that's not for you or you are an English teacher but want to do something else then there are other options to consider. 

There’s much more in terms of employment opportunities – depending of course on your level of education, qualifications and French-language abilities.

If you already live in France or are looking to move to the country, here are some ideas to get you started.

Working for a start-up 

The start-up scene in France is hot right now. So hot, in fact, that some people are referring to it as the “Startup nation”. 

Indeed, Forbes has started releasing a French version of its business magazine in efforts to chart the progress of France on the startup scene.

“Many people say France is becoming the 'startup nation' and the discourse is changing. We have a president who is promoting entrepreneurship and free enterprise,” Dominique Busso, the media entrepreneur behind the venture, told AFP in October.

And don't forget that Paris has recently flung open the doors to the mega startup hub “Station F” (pictured below), a converted railway station that aims to house 1,000 startups.

And guess what? Many companies are very eager to employ English speakers and indeed use English as their working language. Indeed one start up told us that they had moved from London to Paris in order to hire international staff.
Use it to your advantage that your level of English is the best in the whole company and help that startup grow. 
Start-up founder
If you have an idea and are a risk taker then France could be the place to launch your own company. As already stated he government is really pushing the start-up scene and has set up a special program for international start-ups called
As the website says: “The French Tech Ticket is a program designed for entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to create their startups in France.”
There is also the Paris Landing Pack which “includes a desk in a Parisian incubator, a housing solution, a dedicated support for foreign managers by Paris&Co and the access to networking events organized by the agency and its partners.”
France now boasts about how it only takes an average of 4.5 days to start a company in the country compared to the average of 6 in the UK. It also boasts of reduced red tape, more funding for start-ups and special tax statuses. 
In other words the country really, really wants you to set up that company in France.

Photo: AFP

Relocation expert

As ever, France is a hotspot destination for many people from abroad, especially in times of political turmoil in the UK and the US. But we all know it's no walk in the park to just up sticks and move to France. So why not work as a relocation expert (or handler, as they're often called too)?

Given that you have been through the ups and downs of moving to France, your experience could be invaluable to others and you could even get paid for it. Companies are often on the look-out for relocation consultants and managers and you could also set out on your own to help others avoid making the same mistakes as you.

The job could involve anything from giving simple advice to showing potential new arrivals around a certain area and even helping them buy a house or find the right builder to renovate it.

Remember that many people are willing to pay for things to go smoothly, especially if they don't have the language skills and you do.

Keep an eye out for jobs in this area or set up your own website and sell your knowledge and experience. For an example of an expat successfully established as a relocation consultant in France you can CLICK HERE.

French red tape expert

Again this is a case of making the use of your unique knowledge of how things work in France. If you have lived here for a few years you will probably know a fair amount about where the red tape is and how to cut through it, whereas others who are new in the country will be lost in a sea of bureaucracy and often pay someone to help them navigate it.

You would need to swot up on all the rules and regulations and the small print on all the tax laws, but with French administration not looking like it will get any simpler in the coming years, it would be a sound long term career investment. One person who made this jump is Andy Denison, who spent years working in bars in Paris before setting up his own consultancy service.

Needless to say your level of French must be excellent as well as your knowledge and expertise of the bureaucracy.

Photo: WikiCommons

Estate Agent

France remains one of the most attractive places for Brits and Americans to move to with many wanting to sell up and buy their perfect new home in France. Hence the fact that Anglo-run estate agents exist right across the country from the Dordogne to Brittany and from the Var to Paris.

If you are good sales person but perhaps your French isn't quite up to scratch then this could be an option for you. One of the biggest estate agents in France is British-owned Leggett Immobilier, where they are always looking for new staff. To find out more about working for them, you can visit their website by clicking here.

Photo: AFP


Granted, you are unlikely to get the ambassador's job but there are plenty of other jobs going at the embassies of various English-speaking countries in Paris as well as the consulates and outposts around the country. You'll normally be employed on a local contract, which means your job may start as a CDD (temporary contract), you'll be paid in euros and it will be under French law.

Embassies normally require a high level of written and spoken French – you'll be liaising with the French quite a lot – but the good thing is they mostly look for those with English as their native language. Jobs are normally advertised on their websites. For jobs at the British Embassy (pictured below) you can CLICK HERE. Here are a couple of links to information about jobs at US embassythe Canadian Embassy and the Australian Embassy.

NGOs and think tanks

Paris is home to a good number of NGOs, think tanks and institutions that regularly advertise jobs, although more often than not on a short term basis. One of the biggest in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which as it claims on its own website “publishes new job opportunities almost every week”. The OECD offers various “entry level” and short term opportunities with salaries ranging from €2,300 to €4,000 a month.

Then there's Unesco, which employs around 2,000 employees from 170-odd different countries. It may be hard to get in the door but it could be worth it. And with Unesco there's always the chance to travel. There are also agencies like Sofreco, which works in development and Action Against Hunger. There are also various human rights organisations in France like the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights.


OK you don't want to teach English but you could teach something else like skiing, kite surfing or kayaking. Or you could become a personal trainer like Alex O'Connor on the Côte d'Azur.

You'll need to have proof of some kind of relevant qualification, which you will need to translate into French, but according to O'Connor it's not too difficult.

Here's what he said about setting himself up.

“It was actually fairly easy in the end, considering the reputation of French bureaucracy. I needed to set up as an auto-entrepreneur so I just had to pop down to the regional sports authority body with my translated qualifications and references so they could verify I had all the equivalents of the necessary French qualifications. I was able to get my professional sports instructor card within about six weeks.”

READ ALSO: The ten dream jobs for expats in France

Freelance Writing/Editing/Translating
Looking for a job where you don't necessarily even have to leave your bedroom? Working as a freelance writer/translator/editor could just be for you, then. France has a simple to use auto-entrepreneur system for the self-employed, and there is 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. 
International companies 

France is home to some huge multinational giants such as the L'Oreal Group, Orange, Total, EDF or Societé Général which have branches worldwide are always on the lookout for fresh graduate talent and often provide handsomely-paid graduate schemes.
They may be hard to get onto but if you have the right qualifications and background and language skills then they are worth approaching whether directly or via an agency such as EuroLondon appointments.
While you'll likely need a high level of French, English is the language most in demand.
“English is being adopted as an official language. After years of translating emails, webinars and other materials into as many as eight languages, including French, English and Spanish, or holding massive town-hall meetings in multiple languages, the company announced in January that its senior leadership team would be embracing English.
“By year-end, it’ll be English-only for the leadership teams that are responsible for its 500,000 employees across 80 countries.”
Often considered the golden ticket of a non-French speaking job, you'll likely find this job to be one of the easiest to get in France without speaking the language. 
All you have to do is learn the names of a few French drinks, like demi, Diablo Menthe, Diablo Grenadine, etc and you'll be able to get on and earn some money. Most French young people who like to frequent pubs do so because it gives them a chance to speak in English.
So make the most of it. And there's more reasons other than just the fact you don't need to speak French to work in a bar in France. See the link below.
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.
This is the gap you could fill. While many work as certified guides, 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.
You could even become a guide on wheels. Bike tours, either around Paris or France are becoming increasingly popular.
(A tour guide in the Louvre museum, Paris. Photo: Wee Viraporn/Flickr)

Import/Export coordinator: 

This is a job where you can put your knowledge of both cultures to work. Serving as the person on the ground in France, your knowledge of logistics, customs rules and even France's yearly calendar of bank holidays will be vital to ensuring the safe arrival of whatever your employer is shipping.

English is a huge asset in this job, but knowledge of other languages like Chinese or Spanish will also help you land a position. There are tons of placement agencies that work specifically on areas like import/export, which generally require multi-lingual employees.


Banking is a global business and being an English speaker is a huge advantage, plus Paris is home to most major European banks. One of the largest French banks, BNP Paribas, which has outposts around the globe, even presents its job offers online in English. Also, don't worry if you studied philosophy in college, the lack of a finance diploma is not a fatal flaw for landing a bank job. 

Member comments

  1. I actually DO want to teach English (well, okay, I want to be in an environment where I can listen to French being spoken colloquially), and I don’t care about salary (a perk of being retired). THe French school system actually does have positions for people to come inn as ‘associates’, like ‘Not really a teacher, more of a language resource’. Sounded good, where do I apply’. And then I hit the point about ‘must be less than 35 years old…..” Ah, merde!

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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.