Best ways to work, play and stay in France

July 31, 2011 in France,Places

I may be in Australia now, but France will always have a piece of my heart.

Christine Amorose & Linda Paist in Nice, France

My first taste of international travel was a trip to Paris and Provence with my mom when I was 11. I spent a summer in Provence when I was 16, a summer in Paris when I was 19, had mother-daughter shopping trips to Paris/Nice/Monaco on my long winter breaks at university–and most recently, I lived in Nice for seven months. I still haven’t ruled out returning to France for good–so when World Nomads asked me the best ways to work, play and stay in France, I happily obliged:

View of Nice, France from Castle Hill on a sunny day

Work

I was sneaky when it came to working in France: basically, I managed to find hospitality work under the table with a creative interpretation of my student visa, a disarming smile and a stroke of lucky timing.

France has a high unemployment rate and a high rate of (both legal and illegal) immigration; thus, it’s not particularly easy to work there as a foreigner. If you have an EU passport, you’re golden. If you don’t, you need to find a job before you even think about moving there. Then you’ll have to get a work permit, a visa de long séjour, go to France and then apply for a carte de séjour. This being France, plan for plenty of red tape and workers with a creative interpretation of “customer service.”

For native English speakers between the ages of 20 and 30, a great way to spend a year working in France is the English teaching assistant ship program.

View of the Eiffel Tower from a Ferris Wheel in Paris, France

Play

France is the most-visited country in the world. For fashion, culture and architecture–and the world’s most famous museums and tourist attractions–head to Paris. Cruise through castles in the Loire Valley. Dash around the mountains overlooking the beaches in Nice. Party like the stars in St. Tropez. Take the ferry to see the clear waters and rugged mountains in Corsica. Relax in Provence. Sip the real bubbly in Champagne and Bordeaux. Enjoy Mediterranean views and some multiculturalism in Marseille. Eat–and eat a lot–in the gastronomic capital of Lyon.

Laundry hanging in the streets of Old Nice, France

Stay

The biggest hurdle to Americans who want to stay in France: the Schengen Agreement. It prevents you from staying in any country that is part of the Schengen Agreement–much of Western Europe–for more than three months at a time. If you want to stay longer, you need to obtain a long-stay student visa, a work visa or get married to an EU citizen. A great way to do this is via the Alliance Française: studying French can be an excellent way to immerse yourself in the culture, and this cultural organization can assist with setting up a home stay, finding an apartment and any visa questions you might have.

 

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  • How common is it – and wouldn’t it work just fine? – for folks who don’t have a long-stay visa to head to another EU Schengen Agreement country for a day (or just long enough to get their passport stamped)? Seems easy enough to do if went to stay anywhere near a border, like Nice (being so close to Ventimiglia, Italy).

  • Wouldn’t work. The whole point of the Schengen Agreement is that once you are inside the Schengen area, your passport is neither inspected nor stamped at internal borders. You’d have to leave the Schengen area (go to the UK or Eastern Europe for example) — and AFAIK you’d have to stay outside it for 3 months before re-entering. Not very practical.

  • Wouldn’t work. The whole point of the Schengen Agreement is that once you are inside the Schengen area, your passport is neither inspected nor stamped at internal borders. You’d have to leave the Schengen area (go to the UK or Eastern Europe for example) — and AFAIK you’d have to stay outside it for 3 months before re-entering. Not very practical.

  • Anonymous

    As the other person noted–not possible! You have to leave all of the area covered by the Schengen agreeement–which is quite a large space!

  • Anonymous

    As the other person noted–not possible! You have to leave all of the area covered by the Schengen agreeement–which is quite a large space!

  • Anonymous

    Exactly–thanks for helping out here :)

  • Anonymous

    Exactly–thanks for helping out here :)

  • Thanks for clarifying, ladies!

  • I love this, thank you so much! Just what I needed to read today to prepare for my own trip to France. I just got all super giddy! yaaaay!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a fabulous place–do you read Lost in Cheeseland? She just put up some wonderful tips on adjusting to life in Paris! Great resource for American expats :)

  • I’m glad to hear you had your first experience at age 11. I’m planning to take my 9-year old niece to Paris in the spring because she’s dying to see the Eiffel Tower. :) It is my hope that a trip like this will inspire her to make international travel a part of her life as she gets older.

    As for France specifically, well, I’d like to have an extended stay over there one of these days. 3 months is long enough I think; I just need to make it happen!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t remember a ton, other than falling in love with croque monsiers and pains aux chocolats and the Disney store on the Champs Elysee–but it certainly inspired a love of France in me! I think Haven in Paris just ran a piece recently on Paris with kids–you might want to check it out!

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