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American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

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Calendar of Paris Events

Book NOW for September 5-6
The American Church of Paris is hosting A Prarie Home Companion radion show with Garrison Keillor for two dates, September 5th at 8pm and September 6th at 4pm. Tickets are €31, book as soon as possible, space is limited.

July 3
My favorite English book store, Abbey Bookshop (29 rue de la pArchiminerie, 5th), is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a street party featuring authors Stephen Clarke (Year in the Merde and his new book Dirtie Bertie) and Heather Stimmler-Hall (with the first new copies of Naughty Paris!) today from 7pm until we run out of sangria. Free entry. RSVP on Facebook.

June 25 -July 29
Les Soldes! The annual summer sales take place this year for five weeks throughout France, primarily in clothing stores, but pretty much everything is on sale now. 

Through August 31
Between the Lines and the Trenches, a very intimate collection of personal letters, notebooks and photos from the trenches, many never published before. At the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts (222 Boulevard Saint-Germain), through August 31st, entry €7.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CALENDAR

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« Paris Like You've Never Seen It | Main | Rue J-P Timbaud »
Wednesday
Feb112009

Working in Paris

Today I got a question from a Secrets of Paris reader (a friend of a friend, in fact) that is similar to many I have received in the past, so I thought I'd share this Q&A with all of you:

Hello Heather,

My name is Jan, and I am moving to Paris in a few months because of my boyfriend's job. We will be living there for 6 months, a year or longer...depending on the job. I have desperately been seeking employment in Paris. I have my masters in TESOL with 4 years of experience. I was wondering if you have any suggestions or help to offer me. I have applied to several jobs, all of them said that while I am qualified, they are unable to give me a job bc I am not a EU citizen and don't have a work visa. I thought the job would give you the visa but I guess not?  At this point, I would do any type of job, just something to make a little extra money while living there. Since we are not married, his company will not do anything....and I'm not even sure if they would be able to get me a work visa if we were married. Any information you could provide me with with me so very helpful.

Thank you so much for your time,
Jan

***

Hi Jan,

My advice? Sell your car, raid your piggy bank, or have a few bake sales before you leave the US, then live off that money while in Paris and just try to enjoy being here. Why? Because you are going to make yourself miserable trying to find work.

Even for the French, the job market is very tight. Always has been. There isn't the same kind of job flexibility here like there is in the US. Most people do the same job they've always done, and for which they have a degree that they studied for since their first year in high school. Of course, once you get a job here, it's practically impossible to lose it. So employers take few chances when hiring.

Even if you find work, getting a visa as an non-EU resident is almost impossible because the employer has to prove to the government that no other French nor EU citizen can do the same job (and in the case of Spanish teaching, you're competing with the Spanish). Finally, because you're only in the country for a relatively short time, it makes employers even less interested in submitting the tedious paperwork (a process that could, optimistically speaking, take up to six months to get approved even if you did convince them of your case).

Not that I want to be a big humbug, I just have seen too many people ruin what could be a great experience discovering a new place by trying to wade through one of THE most difficult processes of living here. Why do you think that I own my own company? It was easier than getting a job, and I have a visa, speak fluent French, and have lived here 13 years. ;)

Of course, if you want to risk working under the table part time, there are some jobs such as teaching or tutoring privately or babysitting. If you can find some freelance translation work in the US that lets you work from Paris, then that may be an easier option for you. Some opportunities may fall in your lap, so be open to them, but don't rely on it.

I hope this helps you a little bit. Do try and at least live here a few months without TRYING to find work. Enjoy it while you can. ;)

Regards,
Heather

***

If anyone else has constructive recommendations for Jan, please do comment below.

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Reader Comments (15)

it's the same problem for foreigners going to the US or Canada
February 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercolumbine
If you are at least a marginally talented writer (as I hope to be some day), you can pick up a couple hundred bucks a week writing for hire. It's not pretty work, and it ain't gonna win you a Pulitzer, but it'll keep you in Metro tickets and Pol Remy Brut champagne ($1.50 a bottle at Auchan -- don't turn up your nose; it's drinkable).

There are a lot of write-for-hire sites out there, but I'd recommend Demand Studios for the steadiest income. Here is a caveat: you have to start with them before leaving the States. They won't work with writers outside the U.S., but once you're working for them they have no way of knowing where you are writing from. As I think the policy is basically a tax thing, I don't think they much care, either. They pay weekly (very weakly, haha) through PayPal.

It's certainly one way to turn a buck in Paris.
February 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave Guilford
Amen sister, this is one sensibly-written article! The only thing I would add is that Jan shouldn't forget that she will still need a long-stay visa even if she isn't going to work (any non-EUs staying for over 3months do).

Or her other option would be to enroll in French classes at an accredited school (Alliance Française, la sorbonne, etc), and get a student visa, which would give her the right to work up to 20hrs per week.
February 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha
I would suggest applying for a year long student visa and then you could at least work part-time and hope your employer would consider you for contract once your visa expires. With the student visa, you'll be able to work full-time for nearly six months, or 19-some odd hours per week for the whole year. It's what I am doing now, as I am an American and have a French girlfriend and we are not yet married.
February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam
Jan, ever consider being an aupair in Paris? Several wealthy families will foot the bill on your paperwork, health insurance, living quarters, stipend etc. in return for you taking care of their little ones and speaking English with them.

I'm an educated girl with good work experience from the states- in a similar situation as you and this is what I'm doing for at least a year. If you're lucky the family will pay for your language courses and airfare too (mine did). Not a bad deal. Only catch is, you must be younger than 30 under French law (and there are a lot of them).

Heather is right though- take this time to see PARIS. I think being an aupair is the perfect way to do this while making a little wine and cheese money.
February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRed
Everyone has such accurate advice, plus Heather's that there is very little that I can add... Except to emphasize the part about the long stay visa- since three months are the max for non UE citz. I think to register as a student is a great idea... to have a longer visa.. Go to the French consulate in your city and check with them about visa requirements for long-stay visas. I have sooo many American friends whose hubby's are here for work- with American companies and though the wives have long stay carte de sejours, they have NO AUTHORIZATION to work, and so none of them work and they are ALL enjoying being a woman of leisure in Paris... Babysitting and other jobs like that looking specifically FOR Anglophones are MANY here in Paris... but MOST of them will ask for proper and current work papers and not many are willing to take in people without proper papers. Teaching Enlish as a prof or tutor may be a better choice than baby sitting... There is a great demand for it here... as it's required in schools at age 8! Parents are also willing to pay under the table for classes... I really don't recommend working "under the table" here in France but I am sure people do it... Hope it helps. Leesa
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeesa
well i think escort service is good for you and good money!!!this is a naughty site right???
February 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrose
Nope, it's not. And even if you did go to the site for my Naughty Paris Guide (www.naughtyparisguide.com), you would see that prostitution is not at all what the book is about. Sorry!
February 22, 2009 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I had a lot of American Au Pairs when my children were little. Then I had a dog Au Pair (she had a free room for walking my dog Three times/day and talking to me in English from time to time). When she realized She could go almost for free to the Uni, she got wild and registered in so many courses nobody couldn't believe it (like anthropology of Tango). And then she decided to stay another year and now, some 10 years later, she's teaching French in NYC.
So, yes, real jobs are hard to find, but there are ways.....
February 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermartine silber
Hi heather, the wonderful David Lebovitz had directed me to your site. I was enquiring about employment like all the other day to day questions you get here. Just got back from Paris and fell in love, tossing around the old noggin about relocating there but want to do ALL of my research before we make any decisions about relocating. My husband and I are Americans but my husband has dual citizenship American/Finnish. To make a long story short we relocated to Finland almost three years ago to be closer to his parents. Now that we’ve explored a different place (Paris) we’re thinking about what if? My husband is a general contractor and I’m finishing up my degree in graphic design, how hard would it be for us to get into the work force in Paris with very little or no knowledge of the French language. Mind you we have two boys and would like to send them to one of the bilingual schools Paris has to offer. What neighborhood would be a place to look into? Hope I didn’t scare you with my many questions, have a wonderful evening….
If you can please help
Hum, would a scooter company be a good one to start?
June 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternicole hirvonen

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