An 'au pair' is hired to look after children. The usual deal is free accommodation, food and a small allowance in return for looking after the kids and sometimes helping with other household chores. The main advantage is learning the language as you will be in contact with it daily and can use your time off to meet people.
There are no standard conditions for au pairing, so make sure you clearly discuss what you will be expected to do in advance - there are stories of families expecting their au pair to act more like a domestic servant.
Normally, a formal childcare qualification is not required and an au pair should not be responsible for kids under the age of two years. Families that will accept a boy are rare, experience with children is usually required and due to visa issues, EU citizens usually have an advantage. Length of service is a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of 3 years.
Typical responsibilities and requirements
- speak enough of the language for basic communication from the beginning with the kids
- getting up on time to get kids ready for kindergarten/school and taking them
- playing with the children
- organising and giving them their meals
- tidying up their rooms and play areas
- baby-sitting some evenings
Typical responsibilities of the family
- giving duties to a maximum of 25-35 hours per week
- giving a minimum of 2 days (2 x 24 hours) off during the week
- not to treat the au pair like an unpaid domestic servant
- providing an individual bedroom
- paying a weekly allowance (typically around €60)
- registering the au pair with the family doctor
- registering the au pair on the house insurance.
The following organisations put together families and au pairs - they will usually charge a registration fee to the family and/or the au pair:
- IAPA (International Au Pair Association): www.iapa.org
- IAPO (International Au Pair Organisation): www.au-pair.org
- AFJE (Accueil Familial des Jeunes Etrangers): www.afje-paris.org
- AuPair Search: www.aupairsearch.com
Foreign language teaching
Teaching your native tongue as a foreign language is one area where you have a distinct advantage in the job market. English, German and Spanish are languages in high demand. Getting employed in the French public education system is very difficult as specific French qualifications are usually required and the selection itself is made though complicated competition process (French nationality can be compulsory).
However, there are many language schools and training agencies that readily employ foreigners. Some do not even require a teaching qualification (such as a TEFL for English), but this depends on the institution. Having a degree or qualification will give you an advantage. No qualification is required for private tuition.
Teaching is not highly paid with rates varying widely. Private tuition is typically billed at €15-20/hour, but you have to take into account managing your students, scheduling and traveling time. Look at notice boards in language schools and universities for teaching opportunities, or have a look at our notice board in the job section.
Seasonal agricultural jobs
It's estimated that more than 120,000 foreigners come to France every year to help with seasonal and labour-intensive work, such a grape and fruit picking. The grape season is 4 to 5 weeks in September/October (depending on the weather and region), other fruit seasons run from May until early November.
It's relatively easy to get a temporary work permit to do this legally (the employment is also often done illegally). The work is hard and wages are low. Many people come back year after year to the same places, so it can be difficult to get a job.
In the Summer season there are many opportunities in the tourist industry. Finding temporary work in August, especially in Paris and other places packed with tourists, tends to be easier as most French people go on holidays, too. Hotels, restaurants and other food services are the most common places of employment.
Depending on experience and qualifications, jobs include: cleaner, waiter/waitress, cook, cashier and receptionist. The easiest place to find a job are fast food chains like McDonald's, Quick, etc., as they usually tend to be desperate for staff. Your languages skills can help you in this industry, giving you a competitive advantage over French people. In Winter, job opportunities are concentrated in the ski resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees.
Student internships (stage d'études) or training assignments are not legally regarded as jobs, so a work permit (ATP) is not required. You retain your status as a student throughout the internship. A training agreement (convention de stage) between your academic institution, the company and you should be completed. This defines what you will be doing, working hours and conditions, in addition to any remuneration (allowances, subsidies for transport or meals, etc.).