Working in France - question

Here's a question for you, (feel free to tell me to mind my own business :-) !)

How many of you, working in France, work for French people or a French business/organisation? British people I have met here in Dordogne almost all seem to be AEs of one sort or another and I wondered if this was actually true (that AEs are a huge majority) & if so, why?

Thank you for indulging my nosiness ;-)

Thanks Jo, I will look into this - information is really appreciated x

Before working in a international organization in Paris I changed from CDI to AE. Most employees where/are French, some didn't speak any other language, even officially working language was English, it was still simply the town that I found impossible to live in. Now working remotely with only 1 week every two month in Paris makes life much easier. During the last year not only Ex-pats, also my French colleagues began to understand that it is more cost effective (given the right understandings for responsibilities) but also beneficial for all involved, - also to escape this specious "expert"-trap by trying to find a wider variety of clients and services.

Nicolen,online DELF diploma courses are available through CNED, and there is a useful 45 minute free exam to help you find your level of achievment so far. It's free to register. They charge for courses, but they are online too, so good for rural folks and some are free if you qualify for help as a low wage earner via grants from your conseil generale.

when I worked, I was AE. My partner is still, just. I am trying to get funding for a DELF french diploma, to aid my search for work, but it's a very slow process, not helped by the Pole Emploi, who ignore all my letters (in french).

I'm employed, full time, in France, but not for a French company, for an international institution

Hiya there- I work as an AE because I cannot find another option! I moved to France 18 months ago having studied limited French for 2 years, but I am not a a natural linguist! I attend college here for 3 hours a week to learn French but I am still struggling..... yet improving. My French is no where near good enough to be able to find a French job! All my clients are based in England or USA for my business and working about 40 hours a week in English does nothing to improve my French either! I cannot afford any more lessons other than the ones provided for by a local organisation that charges 100 euros a year. One day I hope to find employment that enables me to improve my French as I work, but until I am able to find such an opportunity, I will continue as an AE and keep working at improving my French in what little free time I have available! Mind you, life here in France for me is enjoyable and rewarding!

I have only British & German qualifications - but I am French (born French) as you can imagine it drives admin people here mad!

Main reasons for being auto-entrepreneur - I live in the Gers, very rural, little employment. Most potential employers are small companies and can't afford to pay another employee (high social charges). Most French employers prefer to employ French staff. You must have that all-important "certificate" to do anything, whether it's working in a shop "shop Bac", in a hotel cleaning rooms "cleaning hotel rooms Bac" etc etc (lol) - in the UK you learn on the job, no formal qualifications needed. If qualifications aren't French, they're not interested. There's probably more but that's it for now!

I love it, Ben! Oh, the irony.


There isn't any expat scene where I live. I know a couple of English speakers but the rest of my friends locally are French, the same for my kids, too. I prefer reading books in English, because I read to relax and, although I have UK TV, I don't watch it much as there isn't really anything to watch and the films are on too late.

I still do some teaching, soutien scolaire or individually, but have started up as a virtual assistant and I will see how it goes for a couple of years, if not I'll have to think of something else, but don't know what. The main sources of work round here are agriculture and supermarkets for which I have no experience. I think you have more chance if you live in a city or large town.

Why did you have to get your qualifications accredited in England?

Hi Veronique, just to satisfy your nosiness!! I am in English State Registered nurse, I work in a French public hospital in ITU, my kids are in local state schools, our friends are French and some English, we speak English at home, read English books, the kids friends are French, we are not at all in the ex pat scene, not because we want to "integrate" particularly but because they are all much older than us and frankly a bit pompous, sorry!!!

I know why you were relieved, Louise, I turned down work as a remplaçant prefering to teach in higher education and companies even though it turned out to be less stable - I have now left teaching all together...! I hope things are going well for you ;-)

Hi Véronique. I have been working for a French company for over 6 years now. I had to re take all my professional exams again !! and in french of course !!!. That is to say I did an FCO Transport Merchandise and an FCO Transport en Commune. Plus a 3 day ADR Merchandise dangerous course. All of these courses were paid for by yours truly, and are only valid for 5 years from date of issue. I am now in a full time job, so any future courses will be paid for by the company.

From talking to fellow countrymen and also UK-people living here in France and who are not yet retired, there are two issues that might explain the abundance of AE's.

- people move to this country to get out of a overly regulated situation in their country, so why start working for a French company?

- the age-old non-compatibility of qualifications which makes it a lot harder for foreigners to get employed at an appropriate level in their field of expertise.

As for me I bought a vineyard and have now several French people working for me :-)

I've been in France for 18 years and always worked for L'Inspection Académique or the Rectorat, which was fine when the children were young. However, there is no more work with the Inspection and I did try for the Capes which I failed. However, after working in lycées as a remplaçant, I was relieved I had failed and am now an auto-entrepreneur.

Hi Veronique,

I have lived in France for a total of 8 years and have always worked for someone. The only time I have "worked" for myself has been when I have acted as an interpretor for my local Commissariat....Mind you if I had regular work with them, I could give up the day job and become self-employed, since it pays so well!!

I worked one season for Spanish bosses with dual nationality and the rest has been for French people.

I am a sales administrator and PA by trade but have only actually worked one year as a Directors assistant here. This year I am a hotel director which is a new challenge but one that I am looking forward to.

The only Anglophone people I know here are people from SFN and one Irish friend who works in Lourdes at a different hotel. Otherwise I am constantly with French people or other nationalities. In Lourdes, most people are in the hotel trade as that is the only real work available. Condequently everyone adapts just to be able to work. I know of one former PDG who works the summer season as a night watchman and then spends the winter season being a diving instructor in sunnier climes...

Keith - as an artisan were you REEL then? As this seems to be the killer above all on the cotisations stakes.

As an electrician it is not practicable to be AE and also if you want a retirement pension then it does little to contribute to that; which is why we are changing to SARL. I know some electricians have changed to AE but I think it puts too many problems on the client.