Live, Work & Travel in France
While Paris, one of the world's great cities, draws record breaking numbers of tourists it is the charms of rural France that is the attraction for over 40,000 British settlers each year. Workwise, despite relatively high unemployment, France has many jobs on offer in the summer and ski tourism industries, especially for those with a grasp of the French language.
Working in Tourism
France persistently ranks as the number one tourist destination in the world. For working travellers this translates into large numbers of opportunities to come and serve drinks, clean rooms, sell souvenirs, cook meals, wait tables, answer phones, manage hotels, or do any number of roles involved in making tourists happy and welcome.
Paris is by far the main draw for visitors to the country. Nearby Disneyland Paris has numerous jobs from selling soft toys to dressing up as the mousy face of the company but most jobs will be with small scale businesses and best found in person. FUSAC provides an annual PDF guide to English speaking Paris and has a classified employment section.
Making friends in expat bars is one of the best methods for learning where the jobs are at, and may even be hiring themselves, though landing a job with one is no longer just about having the right accent: competition is tougher with bars seeing many more applications than they used to. These tips should help. The locations and websites of numerous expat bars in Paris and other cities in Europe and America can be found through Party Earth.
FrogPubs is one chain that has a jobs page. They need help pulling some of the one million pints of bitter, lager, wheat beer, ginger, spicy and fruit beers served each year in their English pubs across France. Popular with expats and anglophiles, each FrobPub has its own microbrewery producing beers with names like Inseine, Dark le Triomphe and Parislytic to accompany restaurant food and British sports on the TV.
In the countryside France thrives on offering smaller scale specialist holidays such as battlefield tours, ballooning, walking, or cycling. Tour companies with employment pages or those we have seen recruiting are listed in the France pages of our directory or advertise in the Jobs Abroad Bulletin.
France does have plenty of beach resorts but don’t forget rivers and canals when looking for a job on water. The majority of crew working for European Waterways join as seasonal staff, with many returning year after year and some eventually going on to own their own hotel barges. Positions include tour guide, chef and host/ess. Le Boat is TUI’s canal cruising brand. CroisiEurope accepts CVs here.
French speakers can use the French national employment service, or this site to find hotel jobs in France. Plenty of small French hotels and B&Bs, many housed in historic properties, use JAB to find kitchen, room or ground staff but one of the most popular accommodation options in France is staying under canvas.
These jobs can be found online with companies providing family holidays in holiday parks made up of tents or mobile homes. The task of putting up and taking down the accommodation for these holidays is given to the montage and demontage assistants. Montage assistants work the beginning of a season, putting up the tents, making sure they are clean and setting up the other equipment needed on a campsite. Demontage pretty much do the reverse at the end of the season: taking down the tents, cleaning and packing everything away ready for the following season.
In between these dates reps look after clients. An eye for detail and a friendly helpful attitude is required to work this role for Al Fresco Holidays. Older working travellers will be cheered by the photo of a middle aged couple used to illustrate Al Fresco's Work With Us page. Mature couples can also get in on the act of working abroad with KelAir Campotel.
Siblu run over a dozen holiday villages in France. They need various staff including lifeguards, drivers, receptionists and accommodation team members. Similar vacancies are listed in French on the website of Yelloh Village, though you will need to be able to read French to apply for vacancies on their campsites.
On smaller campsites work exchanges are a popular way to save money though it is not as organised as its American equivalent workamping. We have listed a few we have seen advertising for volunteers on our cheap volunteering website.
South of France’s Campsite La Romiguière has advertised with us in the past for interns/trainees, aged around 19, to help with campsite activities including bar, restaurant and animations. There’s a completion bonus paid of a few hundred Euros, along with food and accommodation.
Trying to think of a way to segue seamlessly from campsites to working for activity centres, an advert from Acorn Adventures rather handily landed in our inbox. They look for qualified and non-qualified outdoor activity instructors to deliver taster activity sessions and an evening entertainment programme to their guests.
Ideally they look for people with experience of working in outdoor adventure with young people between 7-17 yrs old and with coaching qualifications in different activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, climbing, ropes, fencing. Acronym wise we are talking about your BCUs, RYAs, SPAs, GNAS, BFA, BOF, and NPLQ. Here is Acorn's job page.
Acorn also hire catering and bar staff and drivers, a reminder that if you don't have letters after your name you can still find work in an activity centre. For instance, if you can drive and edit videos, Voyager Adventure has come up with a position incorporating driving a nine seat minibus and boat trailer with editing customer videos.
PGL, too, need a not inconsiderable 1000 people each year to look after the guests using their activity centres across Britain, France and Spain. Rockley emphasis the training they offer to new staff wanting to progress as activity instructors, particularly for watersports.
Other activity centres in France that actively recruit English speaking staff include Chateau Beaumont, and Club Correze. Their once astonishingly poor website has improved considerably but we still suggest heading over to their profile on Anywork Anywhere because it gives us a way to recommend two other great sites to use to look for similar work: Outdoor Staff and Best Adventure Jobs.
Maison Claire Fontaine is a French language and activity centre for UK schools in the Burgundian countryside. They sometimes look for enthusiastic young people aged 19 to 25 to join their team and support French language teachers in lessons and during activities and excursions. Other responsibilities include cleaning and washing duties as well as some maintenance tasks. The position is ideal for gap year students either before or after University as well as those considering a future career in teaching.
Ski Resort Jobs in France
France keeps on accepting visitors when the weather turns cold and snow starts to settle on mountaintops. Dozens of small mountain villages increase in size over the winter months as they welcome an influx of tourists. Precedeeding them are the seasonaires ready to cook their meals, clear snow, serve drinks and deliver bread.
Winter tour operators and chalet operators start dangling the carrot of free skiing soon after the previous season ends, from May, but recruitment continues over the summer and there are usually still a few positions around in the autumn when smaller businesses join in with their own drive for staff.
An internet campaign works well when looking for work with larger and foreign owned companies - who, along with a EU passport, usually require applicants to have a UK National Insurance number and UK bank account - but for locally run bars and businesses it is far better to show your face in person.
Now I would point you to the Ski Resort Jobs and France pages of our directory, where you will find loads of links relevant to your job hunt but having put a lot of hours into writing a so far unfinished working abroad ebook we can also present a slightly random selection of leads to chase below.
Billed as the ‘dance floor on top of the world’ La Folie Douce is one of Europe’s most famous après-ski bars in Europe. Represented in each of Val d’Isere-Tignes, Val Thorens, Meribel-Courchevel, St Gervais-Megeve and Alpe d’Huez, they take on numerous staff including cashiers, kitchen assistants, admin staff, security, writers, dancers and DJs.
Experienced drivers, preferably licenced to drive a minibus, can find work taking holiday makers between the airport and their ski resort destination. Alpybus driver positions are based in Geneva, Chamonix, Morzine and Verbier, the last of which comes with accommodation. Mountain Drop-offs also serves Chamonix and Morzine from Geneva airport. Try also Chamexpress. Large tour operators also often recruit their own dedicated driving staff but we’ve picked a smaller company, Zenith Holidays, to highlight their resort driver position. MorzineLets also hire airport transfer drivers.
A few years ago the Daily Telegraph ran a few articles on doing a season in Val d’Isere, officially the number one ski resort for British skiers, and home to the biggest presence of British tour operators in the world. These include Scott Dunn, Ski Weekend, Flexiski, SkiWorld, Ski Total, Inghams, Le Ski, and Ski Olympic.
Le Chardon Mountain Lodges, who operate five traditionally designed luxury ski in / ski out chalets, put together an impressive recruitment brochure to entice the 35 staff they need each year. Other nationalities visit the resort too. Danish company Nortlander, for instance, hires guides, bar staff and chefs. Valdinet also has more advice on finding work in the resort, along with a jobs page, while Vie Val d'Is is an association for season workers living in Val d’Isère.
The renowned Dick’s Tea Bar will be familiar to anyone that has worked a season in Val d'Isere. The club and bar has been popular with the resort’s season workers since it opened in 1979 and hires staff from around the world to serve their international clientele. Interviews are usually held in London each September, however for candidates based outside the UK, interviews will be conducted over Skype. Successful candidates will be required in Val d'Isere from December.
A smart title for an unsophisticated chore of a job, the plongeur essentially does the washing up. Foreign languages are generally unnecessary - if you could speak French you wouldn't have fallen for the fancy job title, would you? YSE hire four plongeurs in Val d’Isère, combining the role with chauffeuring their guests around the French ski resort.
600 kilometres of piste make the Three Valleys the largest ski area in the world, and a happy hunting ground for ski job seekers. Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens are the biggest resorts in the area but La Tania and St Martin de Belleville might also be worth a look-see. Consensio needs employees to staff their luxury chalets in both Courchevel, Meribel, and two other resorts elsewhere in the French Alps, while Meriski focuses its efforts on the one resort.
This accommodation directory with contact details and locations in Val Thorens might divvy up a few leads there. Courchnet has both advice on working and a jobs page for those hoping to join the 4000 season workers that make Courchevel their home each year. Powder White, Alpine Escape, Ski Magic and Supertravel are some of the employers that might be paying your wages there next season.
A family run luxury holiday company, Simply Morzine recruit chefs, hosts and guides for winter and summer season employment with the promise you will be treated as an individual not a number. More chalet staff can earn their living with AliKats Mountain Holidays, Riders Refuge and Mountain Spaces. Restaurant Le Clin d’Oeil might also have a few vacancies for chefs. Jack and Jill Holidays look for look for mature candidates with a bit of life experience. More ski accommodation and a list of the tour operators in the resort are given here. Morznet can also be used to research the resort, or just go direct to these jobs or this Facebook page.
Chalet jobs in Les Gets, a family friendly French village a few minutes away from the livelier Morzine, can be found with Rush Adventures, VIP Chalets, Reach 4 the Alps, Host Savoie and Mountain & Tradition. Hotel Christiania advertises its vacancies via JustJobs247.
Green Rides Ski & Snowboard Holidays have used JAB to find chalet couples to host their catered chalets in La Rosiere, and another couple to do airport and in-resort transfers, ski fitting and ski hosting and general liaison with clients. They also have chalets in Val d’Isere. Improve your chances of finding work by enrolling in their cookery school.
Massage Me work in partnership with hotels and chalets to offer a wide variety of treatments in French ski resorts. Road and mountain bikers are their clients in the summer. They look for enthusiastic and professional massage and beauty therapists to join their team.
Teaching & TEFL in France
As always, Quinn's World of TEFL is a good place to get the lay of the land for teaching English in France. Though they suggest plenty of opportunities are available “only a small percentage are widely-advertised. For the vast majority, you need to be there in person so do not expect your prospective job emails to be replied to. Language centres tend to pay teachers poorly but universities and higher education colleges offer generous salaries.”
Being just a short stretch of water away the Irish and Brits, so long as they continue to retain some sort of free movement of labour with the EU, hold a competitive advantage over other native English speakers but The French Government Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) has around 1,100 positions for Americans and Canadians to teach English in France each year. Visit www.tapif.org for more information.
The Camp counsellors employed at Nacel’s American Village Camps are also mostly North Americans tasked with recreating an ‘American camp’ environment and making it fun to speak in American English from the moment the campers arrive. No French, childcare or teaching experience is required. If you do speak French you may be able to find work in colonies de vacances, part of the state education system inspired by America’s summer camps. Visit AnimNet.com for a list of available jobs.
Babylangues offers positions for native Anglophone speakers to join their team as language instructors, experiencing French life, language and culture first hand whilst earning a competitive wage. There is no minimum level of French required but applicants should have babysitting experience and be staying in France for a minimum of one semester. Native speakers from outside the EU will need a work permit.
Those attracted to France for its own language, particularly those considering a future career in teaching, are encouraged to support Maison Claire Fontaine's French language teachers in lessons and during activities and excursions. A French language and activity centre for UK schools these positions are ideal for gap year students and earn accommodation and meals, along with a small amount of money each week.
Au Pair & Nanny Jobs
Au pair is a French term meaning on par or equal and the country that coined the concept is as popular as ever for young girls, or boys, to work. Citizens of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Argentina and Taiwan benefit from working holiday agreements with France and can join EEA nationals in working as au pairs in France with minimal restrictions. Numerous agencies can place au pairs with families across the country.
Some of the most sought after childcare jobs are in ski resorts. We covered this topic on our blog a few years ago - see Ski Resort Jobs in the Alps for Nannies and Childcare Staff - and most of the information and contacts are still relevant, but I would also add Alpine Childcare and Deborah Porter, both of which were missed in our original post.
Lastly, we reach into our folder marked 'Spammers' to find Speaking Agency. Maybe the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing but we don't care much for them ignoring our requests to stop abusing our job board and have banned them from using our free advertising service altogether. They claim to have lots of vacancies so perhaps you will get on better with them than we do. Try also Les Petite Bilingues.
Other Ways to Work in France
The Local is firmly in your corner when hunting for work in France with a job search and articles such as The jobs in France where you don't need French, Top Ten: Dream jobs in France for expats, and Working in Paris: Making a career out of odd jobs.
Past generations of working travellers might have topped up their travel funds during the vendange and, though numbers have declined due to mechanisation, grape picking jobs are still to go the way of the dodo and VHS tapes. For a fee Appellation Controlee matches grape pickers with farmers in France but if you don't like that idea take a look at some wine bottle labels and head to where they come from to make contact with farmers in September - though the harvest could be earlier or later depending on the weather.
Joanna Gonzalez recommends the French language sites Anefa and Pole Emploi for vineyard job postings and writes about her own experience in Go Nomad. Scribetotter, commenting on an article on the Women on the Road website, suggested non EU nationals also stand a chance of getting in on the act: “hundreds of citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to name just a few non-EU countries, find jobs in Burgundy, Bordeaux or Alsace each year by simply showing up. Vineyard owners often prefer to pay under the table - it costs them less.”
Low Cost Options for Volunteering
From local NGOs to work exchanges we track down and list a number of opportunities for free or cheap volunteer work in France on another website in our small group.
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link).You can get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.
More Resources from our Sites
More Working in France Resources
Articles on Living, Working & Travelling in France
Articles from our sites and blogs:
Edna Zhou: Why I Live in… Paris - Edna Zhou’s transferable skills in journalism and social media marketing have kept her on the move around the world. No stranger to working abroad she had already lived in China and Singapore before a combination of planning and chance landed her in Paris.
Jeff Steiner: Why I Live in… La Roche sur Foron - Over the last fifteen years Jeff Steiner has learned a lot about living and travelling in France. We ask Jeff to share some of that information with The Working Traveller.
Annie Andre: Why I Live in… La Garde - Born in Thailand to a Thai mother and French Canadian Father, Annie Andre is a seasoned world traveller currently living in the south of France with her husband and three kids.
Paid Hedonism - If the world of the student is hedonism, working a ski season must be paid hedonism, says Iain Martin.
Powder Junky - Stephanie Lightfoot hated winter until she discovered ski seasons.
Dress Up as a Giant Rodent - A short appraisal of the opportunities at Disneyland Paris.
There's no Business Like Snow Business - What to do next winter? You don't want to be home again next Christmas sitting around with the rellies. Do you ..?
Articles on other websites and blogs:
60 Seconds with Basecamp’s Tom Allport - Resort manager and course advisor answers questions about his life in Val D’Isere.
My First Week as an Au Pair in France - Poor Jana Fadness spends most of her first week au pairing either locked in or out of doors or driving around in circles.
Setting Off For Another Adventure in France - An English woman writes about her experience as the head of housekeeping in a chateaux in Normandy.
Chalet Hosting in the French Alps - Louise ‘chucka choccy mousse’ Fitzgerald worked in La Tania for Ski Amis.
The 40-something Ski Bum: Blog 21 - A regular column in the Telegraph concerning the fine art of spending as much time on the slopes with the minimum effort and expense.
Resort Blogger Sarah’s First Entry – Preparing for a Season and Heading to Alpe D’Huez for Training - Sarah gets on a bus to Meribel.
Au Pair Life and Eyebrows - A Manc living in Paris wonders if she should be allowed to look after other people’s children.
How my Last Stint as a Campsite Courier Put me on the Path of Travel Writing - Being a campsite courier goes highly unrewarded and is probably not a very wise career move, but it’s a fantastic way of life, says Jeroen Vogel, who has worked on campsites in Croatia and Italy. However, during his third stint in the south of France, a useless screwdriver and a piss soaked tent lead him to making decisions about the next stage of his life.
My Life as an Au Pair. Chapter 2: In Which I Grow a Pair - Canadian Maria looks back on her days as an au pair in France when she admirably resisted bludgeoning ‘Maman’ repeatedly about the head.
A Day in the Life of an American Au Pair in France - Ashley Fleckenstein eats, buys books, takes a 12 year old to dance class, and gets called ‘madame’.
Travel the World as an Au Pair: What Real Au Pairs Say - Five au pairs working in France, Germany and Spain field questions about their hours, wages, duties and job perks.
Teaching English in France: Ryan - Cassandra questions a teacher working in Royan as an English Assistant.
Backbreaking Grape Picking in France: You Can Do It! - Just back from the vineyards of Bourgogne, 18-year old French student Diane Robert recounts her first vendanges experience.
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