If you've been dreaming of working in Europe, the City of Light might be number one on your wishlist. With world-renowned cuisine, haute couture, and beautiful day trips just a train ride away, Paris has so much to offer.
But finding a job as an expat in Paris can be overwhelming. France can have bureaucratic documentation requirements, and your levels of access will depend on your education and language abilities. Where do you start? In this guide, we'll take you through the ins and outs of finding a job in Paris, even if you only speak un petit peu de français.
How do I get a visa to work in Paris?
Anyone with the proper work and visa documentation can work in Paris. If you're a citizen of Switzerland, the EU, or an EEA country, you don't need anything more than your passport to work. If you're on a family or spouse visa, that will also suffice.
If you're from outside of those countries, you need a visa or a work permit to legally work. Unfortunately, it's easiest to get a visa by getting a job first. If a company wants to sponsor your visa, they'll usually complete a part of the paperwork for you. You generally have to prove that you're a better candidate than any French or EU/EEA candidate. The work visa application process is lengthy and expensive, so a company is usually very invested in you as a candidate if they're going to take this step.
If you plan to work for less than 90 days, your employer can get you a temporary work permit from the French Ministry of Labour (the DIRECCTE). Then your work authorization is sent to the French embassy in your home country where you'd complete the visa application. If you're from Australia, Canada, or the US, you won't need additional documentation.
If you want to work for more than 90 days, you'll need a long-stay work visa. Your employer should send your contract to the DIRECCTE. Once it's approved, it will be sent to the French Immigration Office (OFII) for approval.
Once approved, it is sent to the French embassy in your home country, where you should make an appointment to interview and apply for the long-stay visa. Plan to bring a valid passport, a complete application form, and any other information on your job. You'll have to register with the OFII immediately after arriving in France.
What jobs are available for English-speakers in Paris?
Even if you don't speak a word of French, it's still possible to find a job in Paris. The best options for you are probably finding work as:
- A nanny or au pair - a good opportunity to learn French directly in the home while helping a family with childcare and chores.
- An English teacher - a popular option because English teachers are in high demand in Paris, especially in private institutions and corporate training programs (as opposed to directly within the French public school system).
- A tour guide - English-speaking tour guides are needed for the millions of tourists that visit Paris each year.
- A bartender or hospitality worker - Many busy restaurants and hotels will take on workers who aren't fluent French-speakers, because the jobs don't require having complex conversations with customers.
- Real estate assistant - for real estate agencies that focus on international buyers, there are potential roles that interface with English-speaking audiences.
What is the business culture of Paris?
Paris is the business capital of France and you will find a large business commmunity there. The economy of Paris is made up of jobs in banking and finance, energy, internet and telecoms, media and entertainment, luxury goods and fashion, and automobiles and transportation. That means that there's something for pretty much everyone.
While workplace culture varies from company to company, in general office culture is fairly formal and conservative. Don't expect to hear a lot of slang words use the tutoyer form of addressing others. Meetings are usually arranged in advance, while dropping in or "stopping by just to chat" is frowned upon. Punctuality is important, and being late is considered rude.
In France, there are five weeks of annual leave, as dictated by the law. There is also a formalized 35-hour working week, which may seem light to Americans and Asians accustomed to longer working hours. The formal workday is from nine to six PM, and you can expect a leisurely lunch break - sometimes the French take up to two hours for lunch.
And, when in doubt, don't kiss your colleagues! Even though it's common to greet friends, acquaintances, and family with la bise in France, greet an interviewer or business contact with a firm handshake instead.
Are there recruitment agencies or job boards in Paris work for English-speakers?
You'll have better luck with recruitment agencies if you are a fluent French-speaker. However, there are still avenues to try if your French is limited. For English-speaking jobs in Paris, check out these job boards:
- Jobs in Paris
- Mister Bilingue
- Speaking Agency
- The Local
- Learn 4 Good
You probably won't find an English-only recruitment agency. But check out the following agencies, then specify that you seek English-speaking positions:
- Adecco - a large employment agency with opportunities in a variety of industries
- Job Transport - for transport jobs
- Modelor - temporary and permanent recruitment for jobs in fashion and luxury
- Ples Convergences - for DevOps, IT, and telecom jobs
Where can I learn French?
Before you're in Paris, or even once you get there, it never hurts to brush up on your language skills. French is an important European business language that will serve you beyond your initial stay in Paris. While immmersion is your quickest route to fluency, there are supplemental ways to boost your learning at lightning speed.
First you can get a handle on the basics and engage in some fun practice through smartphone apps like DuoLingo, Memrise, Babel, Mindsnacks, and HelloTalk.
If you plan to be in Paris for a while, it's worth taking formal classes or finding a private tutor. You can find a private tutor or take online lessons through a number of sites and schools, both locally and globally.
How can I network in Paris?
Once you've arrived, there's always plenty of networking to be done. Paris has a vibrant and diverse expat community, and other people will always be your best resource. Here are some ways to find your tribe in Paris:
- Professional Women in Paris
- French American Association
- Startup Networking
That just about covers it. We hope that soon enough you'll be happily employed in Paris, with enough free time to eat croissants and stroll along the Seine. Bon voyage!