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Working and volunteering

Volunteering

Online resources like Go Abroad (www.goabroad.com) and Transitions Abroad (www.transitionsabroad.com) throw up a colourful selection of volunteering opportunities in France: helping out on a family farm in the Alps, restoring an historic monument in Provence or participating in a summertime archaeological excavation are but some of the golden opportunities awaiting those keen to volunteer their skills and services.

Some interesting volunteer organisations:

  • Club du Vieux Manoir (www.clubduvieuxmanoir.fr) Restore a medieval fortress, an abbey or a historic château at a summer work camp.

  • GeoVisions (www.geovisions.org) Volunteer 15 hours a week to teach a French family English in exchange for room and board.

  • Rempart (www.rempart.com) Brings together 170 organisations countrywide committed to preserving France's religious, military, civil, industrial and natural heritage.

  • Volunteers For Peace (www.vfp.org) US-based nonprofit organisation. Can link you up with a voluntary service project dealing with social work, the environment, education or the arts.

  • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF; www.wwoof.org) Work on a small farm or other organic venture (harvesting chestnuts, renovating an abandoned olive farm near Nice etc).

Work

  • EU nationals have an automatic right to work in France.
  • Most others will need a hard-to-get work permit, issued at the request of your employer, who will have to show that no one in France – or the entire European Economic Area – can do your job.
  • Exceptions may be made for artists, computer engineers and translation specialists.
  • Some travellers aged between 18 and 30 may be eligible for a 12-month, multiple-entry Working Holiday Visa, which allows combined tourism and employment in France.
  • Working 'in the black' (ie, without documents) is difficult and risky for non-EU nationals.
  • The only instance in which the government might turn a blind eye to workers without documents is during fruit harvests (mid-May to November) and the vendange (grape harvest; mid-September to mid- or late October). Though, of course, undocumented workers harvest at their own risk.
  • Au pair work is also very popular and can be done legally even by non-EU citizens. To apply, contact a placement agency at least three months in advance.

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