Bonjour France! France is the largest country in Western Europe and it has long been a gateway into Europe, particularly from the UK. It has a number of borders, with the countries of Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain plus borders with oceans, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. And the countryside within these borders range from beachside areas, to mountain ranges to flat fertile land. If you are keen to explore France and are from a country outside of the EU, consider applying for a France working holiday visa. With one of these you can spend up to 12 months living, working and playing in France. For details on the working holiday visa, where you can live, types of work available and some suggestions of what to see and do……read on.
France Working Holiday Visa
Depending on your age and nationality you may qualify for the working holiday programme in France. The programme allows you to visit and stay in France for up to one year. The main aim of your visit is for tourism and discovering France’s culture but you are allowed to work to supplement your finances. There are currently 15 countries which have signed a working holiday agreement with France. If you are from one of the following countries and aged between 18 and 30 years of age (35 for some countries) you could apply for the visa. Countries are Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada (agreement on youth mobility), Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Taiwan and Uruguay.
To qualify for the France working holiday visa you must meet the criteria which includes:
- Meeting the terms and conditions of the agreement regarding duration of stay and your expected financial resources.
- Be aged between 18 and 30 years of age (up to the date of your 30th birthday), except for Argentina, Australia and Canada where the maximum age is 35 years (up to the date of your 36th birthday).
To apply for the France working holiday visa Australian, Canadian and Colombian nationals may file their visa application with the visa centre of their choice. Nationals of other countries must file their visa application with the visa centre empowered in their country of nationality. You can get more information on the France working holiday visa here.
EU and EEA Citizens Visa Options
France is an EU (European Union) member and anyone who is a citizen of an EU or EEA country is entitled to stay in France for a shorter or longer period to work or study. You do not need a work permit or a residence permit. You must register yourself if you intend to stay in the country for longer than three months. Check out the official EU website for more details.
When to Arrive in France
Anytime is a good time to arrive in France on your working holiday. I say this because you will be spending 12 months in France and will experience every season. It will depend on where you want to base yourself as to the weather you will encounter. France’s weather varies significantly. The South of France tends to be quite warm, with nice winters and scorchingly hot summers. Paris and central France have colder winters with summers that can be hot and muggy. While closer to the Atlantic coastal areas there can be frequent wet conditions.
Generally speaking though, the best time to visit France is during the spring (March through to May) and summer (June through to early September). Springtime brings warmer temperatures for open-air exploration plus, there is an abundance of greenery and colour. Summer is great for exploring during its long days however, it can be very hot and you may need to tolerate large crowds at sites and at the beaches on the French Riviera and the Atlantic coast. However, these times offer many hospitality jobs in cafes and bars with the explosion of tourist. Accommodation and other holiday related expenses can be expensive during this peak time also so you may need to budget for this.
But don’t forget the winters months. France can be magical during this time and if you love skiing there is plenty of snow in the Alps. And possibly a job in one of the world-renowned ski resorts. So as I said, Anytime is a good time to arrive in France on your working holiday because you will experience all sorts of weather.
Things to do on arrival in France
Sitting in a cafe after arriving on a working holiday in France, working out your next step!
When you arrive in France, there are some things you need to do before you can begin to live, work and play in Sweden. These include:
- Register for a ‘numéro de sécurité sociale’ (social security number) so you can work and get paid. Some employers will help you get this.
- Open a bank account in France. You will need a French bank account to get paid and pay any rent. The main French financial institutions are La Banque postal, BNP Paribas (online brand: Hello Bank), Society Generale (online brand: Boursorama). Note: if you bank with Scotiabank (in Canada) and Westpac (in Australia and New Zealand), these banks have a partnership with BNP Paribas so you may be able to use your debit or credit card from Scotiabank or Westpac at BNP arias ATMs.
- Find somewhere to live
- Find a job
Accommodation in France
Short-term accomodation in France
Most who come to France on a working will start in Paris and then maybe move to the French Riviera or a ski resort in the Alps for work. There is plenty of short-term accommodation available including in hostels and hotels in these areas. I suggest you book your initial accommodation for at least 2 weeks. This is because by the time you have recovered from jet lag or any time difference, done some sightseeing, organised the things mentioned to do on your arrival and found somewhere long-term to live, the 2 weeks will almost be up. Some places to stay include:
Hostels: St Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord is close to a main Paris train station and offers new arrivals in Paris a great base to start your working holiday. Another great options is Generator Paris. For more hostel options and to get pricing and to book check out HostelWorld.
Hotels: Some reasonably priced hotels to consider are Saphir and La Sanguine.
More options can be found on the map following.
Long-term Accommodation in France
Finding long-term accommodation in France can be tricky. And there are a number of ways to find a flat to call home. Check out classifieds in the local social press in Le bon coin (a general classifieds website) and De particulier à particulier (PAP) – both in French.
There are also plenty of rentals listed with real estate agents and many prospective tenants rely on them to navigate the rental process. There is a fee for which is usually split between the landlord and the tenant. The fees are usually based on the size of the apartment. In some popular cities, such as Paris, the agency fees are capped at €12 per sq. m. Therefore a 10 sq. M. Apartment in Paris could see an agency fee of €120. Some good Real Estate agencies to visit include Seloger.com, Explorimmo, Orpi.com, Logicimmo and Fnaim.
Social media sites like Facebook are also a good option for finding an apartment to rent in France. Search Facebook groups to find accommodation. I suggest to find a group use keywords like ‘Paris accommodation’ or ‘apartments in Paris’ or ‘Australians in Paris’.
Working Holiday Jobs in France
Not speaking fluent French can be a hindrance when looking for a job in France when on a working holiday. However, the good news is, there are still plenty of jobs available without the need to be a French speaker. In fact, with the number of visitors to France, many employers are happy to take on English speakers.
There is regular hospitality work available throughout the year, but particularly during the warmer months in hotels, bars and restaurants throughout France, but particularly in Paris and other major tourist hotspots such as the French Riviera. Hotels and hostels also require staff to ensure they run successfully and smoothly. You could always ask at your accommodation if they are seeking workers. This could be sitting on reception checking in guests to working in the kitchen or making beds and cleaning rooms for guests. Hostels are a particularly good source of employment.
During the winter months in France (December to April) the ski resorts are often looking for staff. You could find yourself selling ski lift tickets, being a chalet host, renting ski gear, taking care of kids or maybe being a ski or snowboard instructor if you have the right qualification. France has many world-renowned resorts including Meribel, Chamonix, Val d’sere, Tignes, Courchevel and Les Portes du Soleil to name a few. Contact resorts directly or visit websites such as Snow Season Central https://www.snowseasoncentral.com/france/
If you like looking after kids, you might consider being an Au Pair in France. As an Au Pair you will look after any children, maybe undertake light housework and cooking of meals for the kids. The best thing about being an Au Pair in France is that jobs are live-in so when you secure a position your accommodation and job are taken care of in the one go. Plus, you can find positions all over France, from the main cities to the quaint country towns. For a position check out websites such as Aupair or AupairWorld.
Be an Au Pair in France
Fruit and vegetable pickers are needed throughout the year in France. In the South East and West and Loire and Rhone Valleys – apples, maize, grapes, peaches, strawberry and cherry pickers needed. May to June – Strawberries. May to July – Cherries. June to September – Peaches. September to October – Apples and Grapes. You could visit the A.N.P.E which is the French national work agency. Also check out Picking Jobs. https://www.pickingjobs.com/france/
Another work option in France for working holiday makers is to teach English. If you have a minimum of a TEFL qualification you could find work in one of the many private language schools in France. Paris alone, has around 300 language schools where you could teach primary, secondary as well as adult learners. Check out sites such as Eslbase, the British Council and EslCafe.
Other employment in France could be found online on websites like Monster or on staffing agencies like Manpower, Adecco, Randstad and Synergie. And there is the French national employment centre, Pôle emploi. Be aware, some of these sites are in French and some allow you to translate them into English.
Playing and Travelling in France
This is the best part of any holiday in France. And there is plenty to see and do. You will definitely need to visit France’s capital, Paris and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Plus visit Notre Dame, Arc de Triumph and the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. Read my how to spend 3 days in Paris for more inspiration. There are plenty of great areas in France to spend your time. Maybe you wish to live beside the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Ocean. Or perhaps skiing or snowboarding in the Alps are calling your name. There is so much to see and do and with your year in France, you will be able to enjoy them. Check out some of the tours following:
Final Words on a Working Holiday in France
France has plenty to offer the working holiday maker or those who want to spend extended time there. If you are looking for a great place to live, work and play France should be on your list. Having a year to explore France and immerse yourself in its culture, food and lifestyle can be life changing. And one you don’t want to miss. If you have lived, worked and played in France on a working holiday or are thinking about it and have questions, we would love to hear from you in the comments following.
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Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.