Working in Paris without speaking French

I would like to hear some ideas of how it can be a possibility to work in Paris, knowing only english and greek (native language) and basic French
I want to move to Paris and start working and doing intensive courses of French.
How can this be possible if knowing only basic French.?
Any ideas welcome.

When you live in any country, you really should try to learn the local language.
The difficulty in finding work is just one of many massive disadvantages.
As I understand it, you may travel freely and work in other EU member states, but why would an employer take on a non French speaker when the unemployment rate in that country means they can easily find local people?

The French men are proud of their language.
They see no reason to speak an other language then their own. ..

You should read the following topic thread and take the advice given very seriously. Just think if you can't speak the language in any country, then how do you communicate with co-workers and superiors in the workplace, or with shop keepers and merchants in day-to-day situations?

More importantly, and perhaps something that could even save your life... with doctors and nurses in a serious medical emergency?

William James Woodward, EB Experts Team


this group provides some jobs for expats in Paris :

You can also find jobs in this website, they launched a magazine too with job offers :

Good luck !

Dear Sandra.
very kind of you, thank you
I will use your information
all the best,

As many replied here, it would be very difficult to find a job in Paris without being fluent in French.  You may apply for a job in Greek restaurants in Paris, or even the Consulate or Embassy of Greece. Maybe they have a position where French is not required. You can also try to find students to tutor them English.

You will need to learn the local language in every country on earth, if you are trying to life and work here!
What do you think? Someone comes to you in Greece without any knowledge of speaking the greek language. Do you think anyone will give him any job at all? For everything you need greek and nobody in your country will accept any other way because there are thousands of locals speaking it already searching for a job. This is not a problem with french people or maybe people in the UK or the US, when you do not use there language. Sorry. But there is no difference at all. ALso in a greek Restaurant or Embassy you need to know local language... .

What a reply! What is your problem? Do you fear competition? In my country there are thousands of immigrants who do not know a word of Greek when they arrive. And they find a job. Thanks

But what kind of "job" will it be? If you can not speak a language, if you can not write a language: What the hell can you "work"? As I heard the massive amount of turkish people in Greece is a problem. Sorry, but without any qualification and a kind of analphabetism/Illiteracy.people are not in any kind of "competition" at all. You'll never can get any job in (greek) embassy because there you also need the local language. I know it because I tried by myself long time ago as a student in Paris. You may study french at the Sorbonne university. Also my own wife, a specialised physician, studied french there and ended on the highest possible level (Etudes de langue à lUniversité de la Sorbonne, Paris:  Cours de Civilisation française de la Sorbonne, mention A) searched several years for a clinical job but usually can not get anything until all locals (french) got it. In medicine it is usual that, if you are not french, you are working as a senior physician, usually earning "echelon 13" plus, as a non french they will pay bottom-line "echelon 1". In Paris and Ile-de-France you never can get anything as a physician. The available low paid jobs are there where no frenchy wants to work at all, DOM-TOM's, Nord-Pas-de-Calais etc. Cote d'Azur? Just dreaming.
PS: Greece is not a third world country at all. And in France there is a so called SMIC. This minimal amount of money is so "high" that many youngsters there, same as in Greece, are searching for education and (minimal) jobs.
PPS: May be a hint:
You may send a request to some cultural institutions and you may think about if there is anything so very special from your side, that nobody else can bring in. e.g. if you are a high end scientist or if you are doing something in culture that nobody else can do. You need a very special gap in the markets. I know the problems more than 10 years. I never heard of a french working in Greece: Do you know anyone? Then you may ask him. ...

thank you!

I am also from Greece and currently living/working in Paris while studying French.

To my experience and knowledge, preparation is key. Research the available options, because there are some, and assess weather it would be something that would make you happy.

A few examples include customer care jobs, and teaching english.

Learning  French is going to be essential for your everyday life as well, as you will have to set up with a bank account, social security, etc and these require some speaking skills.

So brace yourself. If this is really what you want to do, it can be done. If you can, come to France for a trial period to see if it is what you really want. Sometimes, things are not exactly as we imagine them.

Hope this helps,
Best luck.

i am NOT from Greece, I am from Germany ...

Μariza thanks a lot.
it was very helpful because other people here have disappointed me saying that it is absolutely impossible to get to France without French.
I speak a bit of French, I have the old diploma Certificate in French.
I can read French and speak just a bit, but I can't understand too much when they speak quickly.
I am a fast learner  though and after a few months in Paris, I will have command of the language
Thank you
All the best

You need a final diploma e.g. from the SORBONNE, and you need 1 to 2 years minimum.
You need:
"Etudes de langue à lUniversité de la Sorbonne, Paris, Cours de Civilisation française de la Sorbonne.
My wife ended with the best note: "mention A". You need TIME!


What the "hell" can you do ... what sort of a sentence is that. I work in France, when i moved here i didn't speak any French not a word and i work in an English company. Now i speak French, however i think that maybe you should review what your saying before posting, it comes across as extremely rude when someone is just politely asking for help!

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps a reality check is in order.
France is full of French speakers, many of whom are unemployed and looking for work.
The upshot is a non French speaker is always going to have problems unless they work in a foreign language based environment.
You can't go to any country and expect them to bend to you, you must bend to them.
In the OP's case by either learning the lingo or finding a specialist job as Victorialou mentioned.

yes indeed in France is full of French speakers, many of whom are unemployed and looking for work but not all native speakers willing to "lower level jobs" (there's no Diploma Required)  as jobs like a housemaids, janitor, waitress, as work entry level retail, etc. French people more selective to choose their jobs so that utilized by the immigrant to find job in France.

My opinion (and experience); to get work anywhere you need the following:

1.  Luck.
2.  Relevant experience.
3.  Qualifications.
4.  Speak the local language.

If you tick all those boxes, you may have a chance (luck is a fickle thing).  Lack of any of the above may disbar you from many jobs.

Many people who emigrate without a job to go to, start off at 50/50; again, my opinion is that anybody who is contemplating moving anywhere without a job or guaranteed income from something else (especially if you have a family with kids of school age), really need to consider just how wise such a move will be.

Best of luck with your future move. :)

Primadonna :

The French men are proud of their language.
They see no reason to speak an other language then their own. ..

this is not correct, our corrupted leaders locked us in our language...
like our culture minister, jacques lang, who fordid any english word if a french equivalent exists, on TV, radio etC...he went further, he obliged tv and radio to keep a 70% ratio of french most of the time we get international songs during the day and french rap at night on radio... :p

french are eager to learn other languages...but our snobbish and sado maso leaders aren t...they have a SM mind, i suffered learning french for years, so will be my heirs :p
he even refused to adapt and modernize french, like abandoning old irregular rulles of grammar...

now to come back to the subject....
i was married to a foreigner and i was in charge of finding her a job...
very few french are fluent in english, not many have a good yes, french is quite a must.
but there are opportunities.

La Defense for exemple, where international companies settled, there are plenty employment agencies there.
there are those working in tourism who needs fluent english speaker guides.
on champs elysees, many internation business are there too, like international lawyers office where directors often talk a basic french.
one of my best friend is filipina, and she cant talk french at all, she s a nurse and caregiver, and have many employers...

to learn french u have many options, the cheapest are associations, can even give free lessons, and city hall lessons which are low prices; then u have private ones up to expensive ones like La Sorbonne.
as i mentionned, many french want to learn other languages, use forums to find some mates who would teach you french or help you and u would teach them yours :) this is very common.

You can work as a nanny or after school care for children.  People love English for their children!  There are many small jobs you can work as you are learning the language.  Get creative and be open !
Good luck

Unfortunately France is the most difficult nation that can work without speaking native language. That is because France citizens have strong prides on french; they love their country. So compared to people in other countries, people in France are not that fluent at English.

You can work many jobs speaking English while you are learning the language.  Teaching English to adults and children is a great job and plenty here.  A lot of families want their children to learn English ! A lot of adults too :-)

While you are learning French and just starting out it's easy to get English teaching jobs or domestic assistant jobs.  If it's something you really want, you will figure out a way. Get creative and stay open minded.  There are many cool open people here in France.  Yes, learn the language of course! don't get discouraged or let people say negative things to discourage you! If i wound have listened I wouldn't be as far as I've gotten! Good luck!

It depends on your job or if you are retired regarding whether learning French is required.

I work in an only English speaking environment and my husband only speaks English. We never speak in French so it is not necessary for us.

Many live in France without speaking any French.
This is possible!
Resources like can translate & speak what you wrote in any language. With smartphones, most people never talk to anyone anymore. Few will be bothered to know that you don't speak French. French life is just about transactions. They (merchants and government) only want to see your money.

Learn the language and THEN look for a job. Just think about it, if you were a French company, would you hire someone who doesn't speak the language? The answer is a resounding NO unless you can offer very special skills no French speaker has. Can you?

IMO, it is pathetic to live in a country and not bother to learn the language! You stay with expats and never mix in with the locals, how very sad. Why bother to move to a different culture?
PS: I am French and writing to you in English.....

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Choosing to live in another country is similar to choosing whom you marry.
The reasons vary and not all people who marry speak the same language.
Not all people in France choose to learn French.

Mkataga, did you go?


Choosing to live in another country is similar to choosing whom you marry.
The reasons vary and not all people who marry speak the same language.
Not all people in France choose to learn French.

then u can t expect a good integration, and would have a limited experience

Yes that's true.
The French can speak to most of Africa without learning another language.

Expatusa, you are forgetting Canada where French is widely spoken in some areas. In any case, when you move to a foreign country, the least you can do is learn their language out of respect for them and to feel integrated.

Integrate into what set of values? French values are "temporary" in the sense written about in the American novel, "GONE WITH THE WIND".  All countries are pulled into the globalisation process by every central bank's desperate hope to keep the world out of an economic depression for a day, a month or a year longer.

I am not talking politics, just about the reality of being able to converse with the people of the country you are moving to. It is YOUR job to learn their language, not their job to speak yours. When you go to the market, the doctor, etc. Unless like lots of English-speaking expats, you spend time only with your fellow Americans, watch US TV, hang out with fellow US expats..... why move abroad then?

It's certainly true that no matter which country you live in, that life around you is in the language of that country; i.e.  Train/bus timetables, posters in the doctors, communication from the authorities.

Well at least i can tell you a way to learn what to cook.

Hi! I live in Paris since one year ago and I still don't speak french. I came here with Working Holiday Visa only with english (not a perfect english either) and spanish and it was very easy for me and my friends to find a job. At the beginning we started in Lyon and that was hard, because most of the people doesn't speak any language but french and it's not a turistic city so it was difficult even to pay the telephone bills without the language. Then we moved to Paris and it was much more easy to find a job in tourism area and restaurants. But you will work in non skilled jobs, well paid anyway. If you want to apply for a qualify job, you need to know french.
Anyway, everything depends on you, on your attitude and yes, take french lessons as soon as possible. There are a lot of non expensive courses here for foreign people.
I totally recommend Paris. Is full of opportunities.

"you will work in non skilled jobs, well paid anyway"

Please keep in mind that it is VERY expensive to live in Paris, check out the cost of rent. Unskilled jobs are NOT what I would consider well paid unless you have no other expenses i.e. no rent, no utilities, no insurance etc to pay for.

Very harsh comments, I live in Australia, we have thousands of immigrants that cannot speak Australian (ha! ha! English) and certainly not our customs, but we are encouraged to employ and try to accommodate them, no matter what their reasons are: if you have a visa to live and work in France, go for it, there is always something. I am moving to France in December hopefully where I will live I will be received with happiness.having experienced France and have family who live there you will be ok. Sue

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