About Secrets of Paris

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:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

October 8-12
The theme for the 81st annual Fête des Vendanges, the grape harvest festival, is Montmartre Fête les Poètes. Events include a parade, grape stomping, the food & wine tasting village, cooking demos, live music, and tons of other fun stuff. Check out the entire program, the online boutique (get your commemorative bottles of wine!) and other info about the festival here.

October 12 
Stock up on fall reading material for a handful of euros and support the English-language SOS Helpline at their Autumn Book Sale today from noon-4pm at Orrick Law Offices (31 ave Pierre Ière de Serbie, 16th, M° Alma-Marceau). Paperbacks €1, hardcovers €2, all categories for adults and kids, as well as bake sale items. Those who want to donate books can drop them off during the sale.

October 16-17
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Mendelssohn and Brahms exquisitely performed by a brilliant ensemble of young professional musicians. At the Institut FInlandais (Latin Quarter, 60 rue des Ecoles, 5th) from 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it's in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited. 

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

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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)

If you have a lot of money and a lot of time (at least a year) to learn French and get acquainted with the market and local laws, then come on over and start your own business. Which neighborhood to live in would be the least of your worries. ;)
Since you have a TESOL degree, you can always work for the embassy. A very common job for teachers to work in France is the North American Exchange program. They hire Americans and Canadians who speak French and hold a degree. They offer a little over 1000 euros per month, benefits, and a 26 hour work week. I have friends who have done it in France as well as Spain. It does not seem to be very competitive for reasons I don't know!

I enjoy working at the schools in countries I live because it is (usually) a very nice way to see a different side of the culture.
October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
I don´t have problems with the citizenship as I´m married to a EU citizen (spanish), neither with money because I have enough to live for six months which is my idea. Thing is I´m interested in doing an internship, don´t really know yet in which field, it´d be basically to have some busy hours each day, learn something, meet people and practice my french. Are they too tough with internships as with work? Do you have any ideas?
I´m 27, a musician, love literature, kids, french, cuisine, photography and have good english although I´m not a native.
Great article!
Thanks!

D.
March 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdaphne
I appreciate all the suggestions as I am in the very early stages of planning my relocation to Paris. My hopes are to get hired on stateside with an international company like Marriott and transfer. I am thinking that way may be easier with visa and housing considerations. Thoughts?
Of course I am not opposed to teaching English as a second language, tour guide etc to help make ends meet.
January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTroy Swezey
Hi Troy,
Getting a job through an American branch of a French company is a good way to start. Unless you already have an applicable university degree and work experience, it wouldn't be a good idea to think you'd find a job teaching English or being a tour guide (the number of legal, native English-speaking candidates for those jobs who already have experience outnumbers the current available positions). For everyone looking for work, please don't forget unemployment in France is higher than in the US. Unless you have some sort of high-level skill, are bilingual, and can already work here legally without counting on company "sponsorship", then you're really better off just coming for an extended vacation and biding your time until the economy improves.
Regards,
Heather
January 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

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