Finding Adventure, Accommodation and Work in Paris - Part Two
Missed Part One? Read it here, and read about Alex's first challenges on arriving in Paris
Whilst house hunting, I was also busy sorting out my work situation. If you don’t speak good French, your generally have a few options. I am currently working as a babysitter, where I am tasked with teaching the children English. I love the job as kids are so full of life and mine in particular are very easy to deal with. If on the other hand, like a friend of mine, you don’t like children and the ones you work with cry at the sight of you, it might not be so much fun. There is huge demand for babysitters who are fluent in English in the city and many young people opt for it as a part-time job. You can either go through one of the numerous agencies and/or work directly with a family. I do both, as I work with children from two separate families. French kids don’t always go to school on Wednesdays, meaning it is a lucrative day for babysitters. The other weekdays are likely to only be for the early evening, so 2-4 hours. The pay is normally around €10-11 per hour.
Another common option is teaching English to business people or children, either through agencies or through private tuition. Due to the dominance of the English language globally, there is also a great demand for English teachers. Indeed, I was offered a full-time job teaching business people. However, the pay is not always that great and the contracts can be short-term – one reason why I turned the opportunity down. Nevertheless, it can offer a chance to try teaching and if you can develop your own business, it could prove lucrative. Many agencies ask for prior teaching experience or a TEFL qualification, though not always (as in my case).
If teaching and babysitting don’t float your boat, hospitality is another obvious place to look. It is worth searching for hotels, restaurants and bars which tend to be frequented by foreign tourists as your English skills may be an advantage.
Other than the challenges of finding accommodation and work, you might be interested to know what it’s like living in Paris as an expat. Paris is buzzing with people and bars, so the nightlife has bags of potential. Whilst pubs in England are struggling these days, in Paris there are more bars than you could wish for. A favourite one of mine has to be the ‘Kremlin’, a Communist bar in Pigalle, filled with an eyebrow-raising interior and an eclectic mix of vodka shots. However, beware that your eyebrows may rise wherever you go if you’re drinking beer as a pint is likely to set you back at least €6-€8.
Food-wise, there is almost everything you could wish for. The influx of Japanese immigrants has led to a plethora of sushi restaurants scattered around the city, whilst Paris is also an ideal place for tasting the best cheese and wine on the planet. If you’re looking for a reminder of England, there is a fantastic new fish and chip restaurant, ‘The Sunken Chip’, nestled between the increasingly lively side streets of Canal Saint Martin.
Paris is renowned for its cultural offerings, with museums a plenty. Fortunately, if you’re below 26 years of age, they’re absolutely free. They’re not for everyone though; I came across a series of three blank white squares in the famous art gallery ‘Centre Pompidou’ and could only appreciate it for its absurdity.
If, like me, you are a sporty type, you could join a gym, however these tend to be ridiculously expensive in Paris due to high rental costs. A far cheaper option is to swim at one of the many piscines. Beware that the French have some rather strong ideas about cleanliness – if like me you attempt to jump in wearing swimming shorts, you may be ordered by the lifeguard to instead wear a pair of Speedos and a swimming hat. Alternatively, if you fancy a morning jog, there are numerous parks dotted around the city; Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc de Monceau are particularly picturesque. If you want to use sport as a means of getting to know the locals, fencing, boules and table-tennis are popular and worth consideration.
Overall, from my experience, despite the fact that it isn’t easy as a foreigner to find accommodation and work in Paris, it is certainly worth the effort. Living in a different country with another language is a phenomenal challenge and it provides you with the opportunity to experience new things and meet new people every day. If you do decide to make the jump, I hope that this article has given you a head start. Good luck!