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Subject: Attending School - Family Coming - Obtaining Work in Paris
Date: Monday, January 15, 2007
Name: Paul Smith
Message: Hello all:

I am very happy to be a part of the community, and grateful for any thoughts you might have on the questions below.

Next year, my wife and I plan to move to Paris for 9 months to a year. I will be attending school. We have a 6 year old boy.

As part of the funding for this venture, both my wife and I will need to work. I understand I will be able to work 1/2 time, but we are hopeful my wife will be able to secure work as well.

I am fairly fluent, and working to (regain) full French fluency; my wife is similarly working to recoup her facility with the language. We are both experienced in the hotel and restaurant industry - she is the winner of a national wine fellowship, and I am a chef, in the French tradition.


1. Is it true what I have heard re: renting, whereby a full year's deposit may be required absent certain employment criteria (i.e., 4x the rent amount in monthly income), or that absent a rent or work history in Paris, a co-signer will likely be required?

2. Do any have thoughts on the possibilities for myself and my wife to obtain work in Paris? I know this question has been asked ad-nauseum, but I am wondering if any have specific thoughts, given our particular background in the food/wine industry?

3. Relatedly, I should add that my wife will shortly have EU citizenship - but from Estonia. My understanding is that post-2004 member state citizens are in many ways on the same footing as all non-EU nationals, with one exception, that since May of 2006, these post-2004 EU citizens at least are not subject to the "only if no French national is available" rule. Is this a correct understanding?

4. We are ideally looking for arrondisements that offer rents topping out, ideally, at about 620-650 Euros; while space is not an issue (we are a cozy little bunch, we three), I wanted to avoid areas that may be considered unsafe for my wife and child. My school itself is located in the Latin Quarter, and we are hopeful to be closer rather than further away from the school. I have heard the 16th, 17th, and parts of the 18th are good to look at. Any thoughts?

5. Education. Our son has no French, though we intend on working with him over the next several months. The private, bilingual elementary school programs that I have seen can be quite costly - do any know if the state schooling programs have provisions in place (at extra cost, if needs be) to handle children without French as a native language, or should we definitely be planning for one of the private, bilingual education programs?

6. Timeline. I understand these things take considerable time - is it reasonable to expect to obtain work, and housing, from the U.S., over the course of the next 6 months, or is this too short a timeline, too unrealistic?

Many thanks, all. Any and all thoughts much appreciated.

Paul _________________

Replies Posted 4.

Name Paul
Message S,

Thank you for the links, by the way. Quite helpful.

Name Paul
Message S,

Thank you for your thoughtful and in-depth reply.

I have applied to ESCF, and my understanding is that on acceptance, I take the acceptance papers to our local French consulate to obtain a student visa; on entering France, I then secure the carte de sejour, and am allowed to work 1/2 time. However, as I understand it, as of May, 2006, the laws have been relaxed (under "progressive relaxation") regarding Baltic nationals - no visa needed, and, being married to her, I can enter freely as well. It is still hazy and I have contacted our local consulate to get the official answer. My wife is an American national, who, through her Estonian mother, holds dual citizenship.

In terms of rent, I was way off, as you say. Chicago was our local reference, and this was off. We are shooting somewhere around 14-1600 euros. I hadn't looked at the 8th or 9th, but will; we revised our search to look more at the 13-15th, 19th and 20th.

The deposit is worrisome - I have heard this friend (doing well Chez Peugeot) lives in the 16th, and needed 2 years....yet on other forums, some have said this isn't necessary. I do know that if the equivalent of 2-3 years of deposit in the bank is needed - say, 36,000-54,000 Euros - this would be impossible. Is this really the situation? We had planned on bringing close to $20,000 on hand, but had not planned anywhere near the amount 2-3 years would represent.

Regarding work, for my wife, she has been combing various sites and she is finding "english required" jobs to zero in on. I have read of many people who acquire these ahead of time, so don't know there...

We are still on the fence about our son's education. Your thoughts are well considered and this is our concern as well. On the other hand, we have heard from many parents in like situation that said their child did fine after a month or so of adjustment, who did not pursue a bilingual program. Every parent we've heard from felt the bilinguale programs, beyond being extraordinarily expensive, were a hindrance to their child learning the language. At the same time, the last thing we would want is for our boy to be traumatized by the experience....I do know the strictness of French education is itself quite a different thing, much less an adjustment to language and culture. So, we continue to think on this.

Hadn't considered homeschooling - I thought this was disallowed by French law?

"In the French tradition." Meaning, I cook according to French principles of training, and have for the last 30+ years, when beginning as a kid of 12 I butchered out my first lamb, slaughtered my first lobster, dissected and sought to master the fundamentals, historical and cultural underpinnings and regional influences of various things. Regularly catered multi-course dinners for 15-20, and so forth. For whatever reason, these things grabbed me early on. Most recently owned and operated the first authentic French bistro in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Maintained up to 12 stocks, butchery, charcuterie, patisserie, etc., all on premises. And about 15 years too early, I'd guess, if at all. After a lifetime of doing this, at this juncture, decided to return to step 1 in the land that birthed the cuisine I love. I go with absolutely no preconceived notions - I intend on being a "student," not "chef," and hear you on the meaning of the word.

Thanks again for your advice - concrete and helpful. I want no illusions. I do not know what kind of assistance the school lends to international students, in the way of helping to find suitable lodging, etc., but will be finding out more over the the next month.

Name S
Message try these

Name S
Message While it is true that many of these questions have been asked the good thing about a forum is you get to read many peoples experiences/opinions. I am a chef that has lived and worked in Paris and France and I know employ 3 people who have recently gone to culinary school and tried to find work in Paris.

1. Is six months enough time. My opinion is that would largely depend on if you have ever been to Paris or France and how comfortable you are in foreign beauracracies and large cities. Many of the things you asked cannot be taken care of from the U.S. Work Permit/Housing (unless you are paying top $)/School Registration etc... Though you can certainly research all of them and start making contacts. But I would not reccomend securing a place to live until you have been there and familiarized yourself with the Metro to see what is possible.

2. I think it is VERY unrealistic to find housing at the prices you mentioned (Keep in mind Paris is a major metropolitan city, what would you expect to get for $700 in NYC?). You may be able to find a room with other people but those prices are per person. For a tiny 300-500 sq ft. prices are usually about 900-2000 a month (3 years ago) (in the cheap areas and when you can find them). If you want it furnished (with fridge and hot plate) it can be a little bit more. The 16eme, 17eme, and 18eme ARE nice places they some of the priceiest real estate in Paris. (Try the 8eme,9eme, 10eme, 19eme, and 20eme.)

Long term rentals can be hard to find. Since most places are furnished you might find it easier to move every three months. Agencies are the best for longer than 6 months and yes you need to prove permits to live in France, proof that you work, or bank statements that prove you have the entire lease x 3 in the bank (at least the two we went to we stoped after that, and my husbands French).

My suggestion would be to go to Paris and stay in a hotel for about a week, get to know the neighborhoods and the metro and read the classifieds at the Ameican Church and in the magazine.

3.Keep in mind that E.U. citizenship / like a student permit does not give you the right to work in France. It gives you the right to apply for a work permit then you can look for work. The application can take several weeks and can only be done in France after a physical etc..... Even if your wife is legally alowed to work if she is obviously from E. Europe she may find more difficulty with the prejudices of the French.

4. With questions about school you might want to re-post just that one question over on the new forum. My sister-in-law teaches in a French H.S. and she tells me it is not possible to just enroll foreigner in school they would need a placement exam and the right to be there. I would highly reccomend a international school yes they are a bit more spendy AND can have long waiting lists and a stodgy application process. But, moving to a foreign country can become traumatic for children the novelty wears thin real fast with no culture or friends. French schools are typically ahead of U.S. schols and demand a discepline we are not used to. Would your son be able to keep up with the studies when he doesn't understand them or without being able to make friends. Will he be able to maintain U.S. requirements.

What about home schooling for a year.

5. Working in France: Without knowing what kind of schooling you are going for it is hard to say but keep in mind most French kids don't have jobs while in school, they do, but not to the extent that we do. In other words employers aren't real eager to work around your schedule, unless you work in a bar or cafe or something. I mean no insult but people in this country use the word "chef" liberally. In France in means a certain level of proficiency and responsibility. Too many people come to France/Paris to cook for free there is no incentive for them to hire a foreigner part time. If you are willing to work for free for a few months to prove yourself that might work. I don't know what you mean about "in the french tradition" The hardest part about the French kitchen are all the little things that throw you off, metric, celsius, equipment, ratios, and formulas that have been second nature to people since they were 14. The way I found work was I spent the first 2 months walking around looking for someone to trade languages with, I told cooks that I was a chef and wanted to talk food in French and would exchange for food talk in English. I eventually befriended a chef and volunteered then was paid under the table.

(A note if by chance the schooling you are going to is the Ritz or Cordon Blue do not mention it in your job search. Though they have a slightly better reputation in the U.S. these schools are not professional trade schools and are not respected in professional cooking world in france.

Honestly I don't think that a food or wine background gives you much of an edge. Unless cooking in Paris is your goal I would look explor some more alternative jobs, cleaning, babysitting, ebaying, dog walking, or try to be a private chef. I eventually started my own business and cooked for people in their homes for parties.

It worries me that you write that you hope to fund your expereince with working, that just seems a little optimistic, but I don't know your background or financial situation. Paris / France / Europe is expensive and the dollar isn't strong. Every where you turn you will need a permit that costs more money. The people contibuting to this response figure about 2000-3000 Euros a month to pay rent, utilities, food, metro pass (and that is W/O eating out, drinking coffee out, traveling, renting a car, buying books/magazines in English, going to museums, shopping, etc...

Also plan on 1 month (depenind on time of year)to find longterm housing, 2-3 months after being in Paris to start finding work /school.

All this information is about 3 years old and from some people who where younger without any travelling experience. Maybe the E.U. citizenship will open doors for you, none of us knew anything about that.

I hope all of this isn't too discouraging. I truly hope you and your family find a way to make it work.

Regards, S

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