If you’re determined to learn French living in the country itself is definitely the best way to do so. Although I’ve completed an Erasmus year in France through my university course, which involved living and studying in a French university for a year, I know that many courses either don’t offer this or sometimes it may not personally suit you. Here are a few ideas for spending a summer in France. I’m always scouring the internet for more ideas, so expect this to be regularly updated!
1) The brave option- simply moving to a city and looking for a job there!
This is probably the most difficult option- finding accommodation in a French city with zero contacts is often a real struggle. While many of the touristy destinations in France (such as Nice/ Biarritz) will probably have ample restaurants looking for staff in summer, it’s probably a good idea to contact them before you leave and ask for a job. Reduced stress. I have a post on jobs in Paris here.
This option basically involves living and working on a farm. You can sign up on http://www.wwoof.fr/ and search for a farm. You receive no payment for your work, nor are you permitted to pay your hosts. You are expected to work for 4-6 hours per day and receive food and accommodation for this. I do have a friend who done it, and her French improved immensely. She was based on a very remote farm with no toilet- kind of like Electric Picnic…. without the electric. She thoroughly enjoyed it but did emphasise that the farm work was extremely difficult.
3) Working at Disneyland Paris:
I’ve done this and you can read about it here.
4) Au Pairing:
Again, I’ve done this and it didn’t work out for myself personally. You can read my experience here
5) Working for holiday camps:
Various holiday camps and companies based in France require summer staff every year. There’s various types of jobs available- for example bar work, waitressing, working in a souvenir shop or as a tour guide. Here are some examples:
There are definitely advantages to working in holiday camps- as you are dealing with English guests it’s great if your French isn’t of a particularly high standard. This is also the downside- you will really have to befriend French workers if you want to improve- you may end up “accidentally” speaking English all summer!
I have a useful post on this here. A Parisian organisation called “Petit Freres des Pauvres” accepts foreign volunteers. While the work is unpaid they do pay for your accommodation and you also receive food stamps. As the work entails giving company to lonely elderly people it’s certainly a good way to improve your French. The website is here- https://www.petitsfreresdespauvres.fr/benevolat.html
The religious area Lourdes in France also accepts volunteers. You can find information here- http://en.lourdes-france.org/staying-in-lourdes/volunteers. I do have a friend who done this and worked as a “Hospitalier.” This involved helping elderly visitors, and she did find the work particularly heavy and intense. However, there are various other volunteer jobs available that may be easier.
Another option is “L’arche des sapins”, where volunteers help disabled people in the South of France. Volunteers are expected to organise activities and also help with physical work in the house. You do receive about €300 a month along with accommodation, and there are no language skills required. The website is here- http://www.arche-france.org/communautes/l-arche-les-sapins
The website Helpstay is also useful for finding volunteer work.
7) Working for the AA in Lyon
Automobiles Association that is, not Alcoholics Anonymous. I spent a summer working here and I loved it. It’s a call centre based in Lyon and your job involves helping British customers who have broken down abroad. Therefore, much of the job involves speaking English although a relatively good level of French is still required. You can apply by emailing your CV to Elaine.Badham@TheAA.com
8) Working for Booking.com call centre in Lille
Again, you will need a relatively good level of French for this. Apply here.
9) Working in Irish Bars
There is a huge amount of Irish bars in France. Bar work would probably be suitable for someone with basic French. I’ve done a post on this here.
Workaway is a system that allows you to stay with a family abroad in exchange for work. Read more about it here.
11) Seed Events
This company provides staff for festivals. Some of these festivals are in France (for example “Le Mans”) and you can apply to volunteer here.
12) Horse Riding Holidays
This is more suitable for gap years. You must be a confident horse rider and have a driving license. Read more here.
13) Working on a Yacht
There are plenty of job opportunities available in glamourous destinations such as Cannes over summer. Find a list of these here.
If you’re absolutely desperate- This website organises work in France- although it is very pricey. A friend did it and worked in a creche and did enjoy it- worth a shot. However, it’s worth reading this thread first.
Please feel free to comment with any other suggestions- I hope this helped!