When Barak Obama and his family visited Paris recently his wife, Michelle, planned to spend a few hours shopping with her daughters on Sunday morning. President Sarkozy, embarrassed, had to explain that French shops do not usually open on Sundays, originally for religious reasons and but also because the French prefer to take the day off.
“We’ve got better things to propose to our fellow citizens than a life of commuting, working, sleeping and buying,” lamented a French politician, speaking out against Sunday trading soon afterwards.
The French have a healthy respect for time off. The average French worker spends 40 weeks a year working, compared to an American who averages 46.2 weeks a year. Most French offices and shops still shut for a two-hour lunch break and many shut one day mid-week too, depending on the region. Working hours are shorter than in the UK, there are more public holidays and many French employees take the whole of August off. Perhaps because of this laid back approach to working life, only 9% of French belong to a
trade union, compared with 29% in Britain and 27% in Germany.
As European citizens, the British can legally work for French companies without visas or permits. In practice, however, it can be difficult to find a job. In early 2012, French unemployment reached its highest rate for 12 years, and there is little sign that the situation is improving.
As a result, many British moving to France choose to either take their work with them, or to set up their own business. A recent survey, by French Entree, showed that 58% of British expats in France are self employed and 42% describe themselves as employees. Of those who work for themselves, 28% work in hospitality (running bed and breakfasts, gîtes, or a hotel), 18% run an estate agent, 14% work in the building trade and 10% work in property management and 13% designing websites - probably for all the others.
Fifty-one per cent of the self-employed people said they chose this work because they already had experience in it. Twenty-seven per cent said it was something they always wanted to do, while 22% said it was the only way they could earn a living in France. Of those surveyed 89% live in rural France.
Britons who have worked in France advise those thinking of moving there, to organise work before they arrive.
There are advantages to working for a French company. It makes it easier to integrate with local people than working alone at home. It might help you to get to know your community and to make friends. It would also enable you to avoid some of the extensive bureaucracy involved with running your own business.
Despite high unemployment rates across the country as a whole, there are staffing shortages in areas such as telecommunications, and hotel and restaurant work. Bilingual secretaries and accountants are also in demand, as are English language teachers - and builders.
On the menu on the left you find many usefull chapters to help you earn money and pay the right in France.
Information source: the telegraph newspaper, Living in France The essential emigration guide