Work and Travel in France
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN FRANCE FOR TRAVELLERS
Quintessentially European, France is the most visited country in the world, with 89.4 million tourists visiting in 2019 alone. Vacationers are consistently attracted to the beautiful language, gourmet food, and diverse landscapes. Not surprisingly, then, this country is rife with opportunities for those looking to work and travel in all seasons. You should easily be able to find work that matches your skillset and earns you a great experience.
Read below to discover our travel guide to working and travelling in beautiful France.
1. Help out at a hostel or B&B
If you have skills in hospitality, you can choose your own adventure here, since France supports tourism for both high- and low-end customers. You can either work at a backpacker’s hostel in a city such as Paris where you’ll be meeting loads of international travellers and find yourself hosting game nights or cooking classes. Alternatively, you can cater to more affluent tourists at a luxury B&B in Normandy or the south of France.
2. Muck in at an organic farm in Provencal
France has arguably the biggest proportion of organic farmland in Europe. If you have farming or gardening skills or want to get into that industry, working at a farm in southern France, a region known for growing herbs and vegetables, is the place you should head in the spring, summer, and autumn.
3. Help refugees in Calais
For those looking to get into the humanitarian field, an impactful and insightful way to help refugees on the front line of the refugee crisis all year round can be found through working within the refugee camps in Calais. You will get to know those forced to flee their countries, providing much needed social interaction and support.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR FRANCE
EU nationals and citizens of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland need only a passport or a national identity card to enter France. For tourists from around 60 non-EU countries, visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days. This includes citizens of the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and many Latin American countries. For stays of more than 90 days, contact your nearest French embassy or consulate and begin your application well in advance as it can take months.
Other people wishing to come to France as tourists have to apply for a Schengen Visa. It allows unlimited travel throughout the entire zone for a 90-day period. Apply to the consulate of the country you are entering first, or your main destination. For more Visa information, see here.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN FRANCE
Springtime sees the return of sunshine to all parts of France. This is an ideal time to arrive in France, as you can look around and secure work before the crowds descend for the summer resort season.
Head to the south for organic farm work in Provence, the north to get set up on a grain farm (although be aware it will still be cold up there), or go west to work on preparing an apple orchard.
Your options for work and travel are plentiful in the springtime in France.
Campsite jobs are offered by the hundreds by tour operators looking for people fit enough to withstand some heat and heavy lifting. Head to Bordeaux for grape picking or remain in Provence for the olive harvest.
Summer is the boom time for the luxury resorts along the French Riviera. You could find yourself working as a chambermaid or yoga instructor along the beaches in Nice, Cannes, or Saint-Tropez if your skillset matches the particular need.
The resort cities in the south of France have longer tourist seasons than up north, so there may be an opportunity for you to extend your summer seasonal work into the Autumn.
If restaurant serving or bartending is within your skillset, then in late August head to large university cities in such as Nantes or Beziers, whose large student populations frequent Irish, Aussie, and British bars. They’ll certainly be looking to employ English-speaking staff, and this is a great way to improve your French.
The French Alps are synonymous with Chalet culture and après-ski, so head here to snag lucrative jobs as a ski/snowboard technician, chalet chef, or a nanny for couples looking to spend more hours on the slopes.
Once you have a season of working in the French Alps behind you, you’ll likely be able to find a job at any other ski resort in the world next year.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN FRANCE
France is one of the most modern and highly-developed countries in the world. It has one of the largest economies, and the country is a leader among European nations. France has a large and diverse immigrant population, so you should be able to blend in pretty easily no matter where in the world you come from.
There’s a culture of foreign backpackers coming to volunteer in France, so you’re not going to experience any problems in that realm.
Just bear in mind that many French do not speak English or prefer to use their own language even if they understand other languages. Don’t start a conversation in English, try to speak French even if your language knowledge is limited.
Are you ready to start planning your work and travel adventure in France?
- Edited on Jun 2 2021 by Lily