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La Belle Vie – Top Tips on Living and Working in France

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Ever dreamed of living in France? Or imagined yourself sipping on hot coffee and nibbling a croissant while gazing out of your breezy apartment window in the heart of Paris....



Its really important to be prepared.  France can be a difficult place to settle into if you are an “étranger” (foreigner) particularly if you do not speak French as your “langue maternelle” (mother tongue).  That’s why our team at Job Coconut has written this handy blog post outlining a few important things before you take off! 



Job Coconut’s Top Tips for Working in France

  • 35-hour working week.  Pas mal!
  • 5 weeks mandatory vacation.
  • Free heath care.
  • 11 annual public holidays.
  • People take long leisurely lunch breaks and it’s not unusual to have a glass of wine or two.
  • The majority of the workforce is employed in the service sector (around one in four).
  • Working practices are generally quite professional and formal.
  • CVs should generally be written in French and be no more than 2 pages.  A photograph, age and marital status are required.



Job Coconut’s Top Tips on French Culture


  • France is the gastronomic heart of Europe. Bon appetite!
  • French cheek kissing – this is a common problem us awkward Anglophones! To become a true Francophile you must exchange kisses on both cheeks when greeting friends in France.
  • Warning! There are a LOT of public holidays or “jour fériés” in France. 
  • Vegetarian?  The French will have no idea what you’re talking about…
  • You are expected to say “bonjour” or “bonsoir” depending on the time of day when entering a shop and “au revoir” when leaving.  It is also polite to refer to someone as “Monsieur” or “Madame”. 
  • If you are giving someone a bottle of wine at a dinner party make sure it’s a good one (they’re French, they’ll know!).
  • Most shops are closed on a Sunday.



Job Coconut Tip - Try your best at speaking French


Even if you can only speak pigeon French, at least make an effort.  It will be appreciated, and at the very least it can be good way to break the ice!   I would suggest taking language classes to improve your French no matter what level you’re at.  Speaking the language is the only way of totally immersing yourself into a culture. Once you understand the nuances of another language you can begin to interact properly with locals and be exposed to other aspects of French culture like its film, literature and art.


Becoming bilingual can dramatically increase your opportunities of getting a great job, not only in France but throughout Europe as French is an extremely sought after language.


Speak french fluently? Check out our French speaking jobs today.


Job Coconut Top Tip

- Dealing with French Bureaucracy


The French bureaucracy is legendary.  Most foreigners have an epic tale to tell of their experience with dealing with it.  Be prepared for the numerous forms, questions and mountains of documents with official translations to produce a dossier.  One must accept bureaucratic hurdles as a part of life in France and remember that the French have to go through the same process.


Some tips with dealing with “la paperasse” or red tape in France are:

  • Always find out from an official source exactly what you need to bring before you make an application. 
  • Double-check the opening hours of the office and ensure it isn’t a public holiday.
  • Always take a photocopy of everything.
  • Anticipate that you won’t have the right paperwork the first time round.
  • Allow plenty of time to make an application (take a good book!).




Job Coconut Top Tip - How to get a French work visa


Citizens of the EU can legally work in France. If you are non-EU citizen you must:

  • Find a job
  • Obtain a work permit
  • Obtain a visa de long séjour
  • Apply for a carte de séjour


Realistically, it is very difficult for non-EU citizens to find a job in France.  The people with the best chance of getting a work visa in France are those in highly specialised fields.  There are only really two ways to get a work permit.  Firstly, if you prove you are more qualified than anyone else in France/Europe.  Secondly, get hired by an international company that has branches in France and get transferred over, because their sponsorship will allow them to obtain the permit for you. 


Thinking of working in France?  We don’t blame you! Check out the Job Coconut website to see the live job vacancies. Don’t forget to register here.


Speak French and want to work abroad? Click here for our current French speaking job opportunities.


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