French Work Culture

3 April 2012

Five weeks vacation, recurring cigarette-espresso breaks and two hour lunches are among the stereotypes perpetuated about French work culture and I can say from experience, only two of three are still true today. Lingering over glasses of wine and copious lunch plates for two hours is a habit rapidly slipping from convention as is the notion that the French are unproductive. It occurred to me recently that my career actually began in France. I worked retail in the States throughout college but nothing full-time and nothing I intended to make a lifelong vocation. That said, my reference is slanted and I base much of my understanding of American work-culture on what I remember and what my close friends and family describe. My professional experiences in Paris have all been part of an international context and so I’ve been exposed to the work styles and ethics of individuals from all over the world. This also means that my observations about French work culture reflect a very specific sector – advertising/comm/web (where business suits raise eyebrows) – but are likely applicable to other global industries. When I first set out to do a post about work culture, I used my husband’s environment as a […]…

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How to Become a French Expat

27 April 2011

If you’re someone who believes that living in France is like vacationing in France, you might want to leave this page now. Life abroad isn’t all market-hopping, croissant-eating, wine-slurping, terrace-lounging and baguette-chomping, surprisingly enough. That’s part of it, but there’s another side which requires much more patience, flexibility and attention to detail; the side that involves paperwork, rejection, more paperwork, waiting, more waiting and perhaps, if you’re lucky, success. I say all of this because over the last year I’ve received many emails from readers asking for tips on how they can pick up their lives and move abroad to get their own piece of the French pie. “How can I become an expat?”, they ask, hoping it’s easier than they imagine. Well… it’s not. Every expat has their own, very personal experience moving their lives to France, but each of us were held to the same rules and confronted with the same frustrations. I figured it was time to take the conversation off email and post suggestions for those who are genuinely serious and passionate about making the move abroad, two very important pre-requisites. These options will not work for everyone so keep in mind it really depends on […]…

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