Parisian Living

Becoming French 101: How to Live and Work in France

by Paige Bradley Frost
Written By

Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley Frost lived in Paris for nearly a decade and was a regular contributor to HiP Paris. In 2016, she swapped the Banks of the Seine for the beaches of San Diego, California where she now serves as Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, Women's Empowerment International. Still, her heart remains with the French capital where she hopes to one day return. View Paige Bradley Frost's Website

40 comments on “Becoming French 101: How to Live and Work in France

My story is pretty classic i guess. I met a man, he’s french and that’s how i ended up in France. Most people marvel at the notion of how romantic it is to meet a french man, move to France, live in France (Paris especially), but there’s really nothing romantic about this whole process when you deal with French Administration =)

I must admit, i had an easier way compared to many others. However, things have gone wrong in many ways possible and patience have been tested, resulting in new found level of gratitude appreciating efficiency and convenience back home (Singapore).

I thought i had fully prepared myself for anything but french administration/paper is one thing you can never prepare yourself enough.

I applied for my company to transfer me to France. It took a year but it happened. Then we started with the procedures of application. I am on the Carte Bleue Européenne visa. My company did everything for me, even paid the fees. To be honest, i didnt even read up on the types of visa, i didnt do any research on that. I still feel i’m really luck with that, because it would have been an absolute horror if i have to find a way to France on my own – which i kind of concluded to be impossible. I did get an impression that this visa is not really common, even though this has existed since 2007, not many people in the administration have handled this. I have to of course provide many documents, and they need to be translated by a certified translator to French. The HR of my company was in constant contact with OFII and finally i got my visa approved. Then started the long process of obtaining my carte de sejour – which the sous perfecture kind of screwed up because they have never seen a Carte Bleue Européenne before( !!). They sent me for medical check, for 200 hour french class, 2 introductory Integration to France full day classes – stuffs i have to do in order to get my Carte de Sejour approved, however it turns out that i didnt have to do any of these, because for Carte Bleue Européenne visa, we are here to work like immediately, noone that i spoke to ( add on language barrier) understood what my visa comprises and the process. In the end my company’s HR had to help clarify with OFII on these and finally i got my carte de sejour, without having to go for all those things i mentioned ( but by then i had already gone for medical check up and 1 Integration class).

If you want to feel grateful to your home country, and like your patience to be challenged, or enjoy feeling defeated by life ( by life i mean the French admin), France is a good place to start.

Bon courage a tous

Hello, I truly hope you can answer me 🙂 I love all things French! Have all my life! My home is decorasted French country, I just love everything frenche. I’m 41 years old and have two daughters 11 and 9. I would love to give them the gift of speaking fluent French without an accent and living in France. I have no idea how I can do this. Perhaps I can teachEnglish. I have no idea. Perhaps you can help me with reference to where to find Employment. This sounds very far fetched perhaps but it is something I feel must do.

Very interesting article. I am trying to get working visa. But it is really hard. You should have a lot of patience and positive thinking. Thank you for sharing this information. Greetings!

Interesting suggestions – I learned a lot from the facts – Does someone know where my assistant can locate a sample French Republic Long Stay Visa version to type on ?

We’re two New Yorkers who did an academic year in Paris through MICEFA! Since we left two years ago, we’ve been back three times. Starting to think we should maybe move back! Thanks for your post! 😀

This is such a great post about living and working in France!

I am an American girl from New York who is moving to Paris to study at HEC Paris this June. Feel free to visit my website at to join me on my journey from New York to Paris!

I will be studying, working part-time and traveling around Europe! 🙂

Hi there, I’m going back to study Postgraduate from my hometown next year. However I would like to apply for an exchange program to Paris. Do you know if I have to work for 20 hours related to my Postgrad programme? For instance if its related to Health or Business programme. Also what are the chances of getting a part time job in Paris while studying Postgad and as a non-Eu citizen? I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you!

What about the Foreign Legion route? Is that still available?

Thank you for this post! I’m currently on a long term visa in France which is expiring in November and I’m looking to switch over to a student visa for small work hours 🙂

I always wanted to have my life in France and the only problem it’s hard to find job with a good salary.

Bonjour tout le monde et Madame Frost,
Here’s my story on how I’m moving my life to France.

I studied abroad in Paris during the Summer of 2010 when I was 23 through my Junior College. It was then and there that I fell in love with something for the first time in my life!! Toute de suite upon returning to Los Angeles, I declared my French major, and gathered all of my credits from the last few years (which wasn’t an easy task), and I applied to San Francisco State University, while simultaneously applying to their year-long study abroad program in Paris. By Spring 2011 I was accepted into both SFSU and their program. Come August I was back in my paradise city!

I studied hard and experienced a plethora of wonder and amazement, and then met a fantastic frenchman in Poetry class in January of this year. Four months later we were PACS’d. The following month, in June, I returned to L.A. for a month, then moved here to San Francisco where I had to finish up my Senior year. My darling visited me in August/September. Right after he left, I figured out how to gather my credits together and finish up my last semester (this upcoming Spring) via corresponance [with my B.A. in French] so that when I go back in exactly two weeks and five days from today, it’s gonna be for good.

I have worked very hard to make Paris my home. I’m applying to a few Universités de Paris pour obtenir mon Master’s in Anglophone studies since I also found last year, in Paris, my calling as a teacher. If there’s one thing in life that I desire more than anything, it’s Paris. And it ain’t too bad that I also found the darling who’ll share this wonderous life with me there.

xox Cheers to everyone discovering and living their passions!

There is one more visa that you are missing. It is called La Carte Bleue Européenne (the European Blue Card) and it has only been recently launched a year and a half ago. It functions much like the French work visa, except it is a visa at the European level. You must stay in your primary host country (in this case, France) for 2 years but afterwards are eligible to work elsewhere in Europe. It is good for up to 5 years and confers the same benefits as the French visa (i.e. access to healthcare and pension, right to apply for citizenship in the future, etc.). The KEY DIFFERENCE – and this is the most important – is that there is no labour market test. Meaning that companies do *not* have to prove that there is no other French or European person capable of performing the job. This makes it much easier to get than the normal French work visa. However, it’s geared to highly skilled workers so there is a minimum salary requirement and you must already have an offer.



Paris of milk and honey

I really miss living in Paris, but thanks to your blog, I can still read about it every day :)!

Very interesting. I’m not sure I could move to France permanently (some of my family did, it’s fun to visit) but I’ve always wondered how it might work.

France is challenging indeed. Luckily there are so many wonderful things to look forward to, after you muddle your way through all the admin stuff. Aie. Good luck everyone . . .

I like how some people commented that you didn’t sugar-coat the process… but I don’t think you can truly know what ‘administration’ means until you’ve completed the process. I am lucky because I got a company to sponsor me, so they took over the process, but that doesn’t entirely remove me from the pain. The documents, the certified translations, the medical appointments, the legalization of legal documents (yup!) and more have not always brought out the best in me. Nothing is written in stone, so the administration can change their minds and the requirements quite easily (and they do!), so you best be ready for any and all curve balls that might come your way. If you want to work on your patience, try moving to France.

I love your post!!!! I am a French citizen who never lived there but thinking of moving to France with my young family to live for good, language and finding work are my concern. I am in a technical field (Engineer) and not sure how the job market is over in France.

I’m trying a different route in by way of the Talent et Compétences visa. It’s good for 3 years then renewable for another 3. 6 years is enough for me to make everything permanent.


I have a dream to retire in Europe. France is at the top of my list of choices. I can retire at 50 or 55 from the Fire Dept, but will have to continue to work afterward. For now I can dream of a future there.

It is actually 90 out of every 180 days, so you can come in and out but need proof (hotel receipts, tickets) proving that you spent 90 days out of the country for each 180 day period.

Thank you all for the great comments and suggestions. So glad you found the post useful. We’re loving reading about your stories, too. Thanks for sharing!

You’ve given some good, sound advice here and I like that you haven’t sugar coated the process. I’m sure it will help many who are planning a move to France!

As a New Yorker living in Paris, I absolutely love this post! It’s so hard to neutralize the romanticism of my life here. Not that I don’t absolutely love it, but I don’t think people realize how challenging even just the process of getting here was. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m about to forward it to all my friends and family 😉

As an expat living fulltime in Nice, I too know the horrors of French bureaucracy. My advice would be to work for a French/International co. and ask to be transferred; I know a French person who did this with IBM and worked in New York, so it can work both ways.

k_sam beat me to it, but yeh, the tourist visa option no longer works (otherwise I would be a much happier Australian trying to live in Paris!!) You have to go to England and eat mushy peas for 3 months before you can come back. Sigh… schengen zone…

Hi paige,

I’m a pure French Parisian (I was born there) and it was quite a time before I realize how much privileged it was making me. It took me to travel, to see other places and to hear all around the world people marvelling everywhere just to be hearing that I was Parisian so that I finally understand that I was blessed to be entitled to call “home” a place that so much consider as merely heaven.

Your title “Becoming French” connect me to the one of a book I just published: “Being French!” (see my site about it), a book in which I bring for Anglo-Saxon people something deeper about the French ways in matter of sensual life. In this book I give the view of a true insider about what makes us easier and happier in that delightful department of life: Sensuality.

I remember going with my daughter when she was getting her carte de séjour and you are right to point out that it is not for the faint of heart. She has lived in Paris for about 18 years now, and I am lucky enough to get to visit every year or two. Paris is a fabulous city, but like any fabulous city, it is also very expensive to live there. I am really enjoying this blog, but even more looking forward to a return to Paris this coming spring!

debra phillips @ 5th and state

i dream of being an expat in paris or london…… the way you did it!

How interesting…great post. xx

Through my blog, I regularly receive emails from French people who want to come to the US as tourists and find a “petit boulot” so they can stay and live the American dream. I repeatedly tell them that it can NOT be done this way, just like Paige explains it in this post. These people then tend to think that the US government is tough and “not nice” with them and I keep telling them: it’s the same in France but you don’t know because it’s your country! 🙂
Try being a foreigner in France and you’ll see how hard it is to be able to live and work there.
So THANK YOU Paige for talking about this from another perspective! 🙂
Bon week-end !

I’m one of the many dreaming about moving to Paris someday..great post!!

Just as an fyi, the 90 days in, 1 day out loophole was closed several years ago. You now have to leave the Schengen zone for a full 90 days before you can come back for another 90. So basically it’s now 3 months on, 3 months off.

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