Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hammam and cheese

One of my favorite activities in Paris (and many other cities as well) is to go to a hammam (Turkish-style bath house).

Paris has many hammams - some are co-ed, some are every other day men or women, some are chic, some have been renovated into hip nightclubs (e.g. Les Bain-Douches)... no matter which one you chose the experience is amazing and shows you a different side of Paris - once you step over the doorway you begin starting to see the real city - not just the 10% that you already knew (i.e. Eiffel Tower, baguettes, Notre Dame...).

La Mosquee de Paris - believe it or not, France is home to more than 100 mosques and approximately 6 millions Muslims - that is almost 1/10 of the French continental population. France is a secular country, if not the most secular country in today's world. There will be (much) more on this subject later...

La Mosque de Paris is at the same time a mosque, museum, tea house, restaurant, outdoor cafe, a souk, and a hammam (bain maure). The rules are every other day is either men or women. The secret is out on this fantastic place by the metro Censier Daubenton - and it was renovated and repainted a few years back. When you first walk in you are to choose your formule and the deshabille yourself and walk though the rooms the go from hot to hotter than hell... clothing is optional and when its time for a massage you can sit out in a room that is covered in colorful pillows and sip your mint tea while chatting with friends. You can choose a massage in a private room or out in the main room. It is best to spend a few hours here and really relax - you are experiencing many things French at the same time; 1) a more open attitude towards bodies and insecurities (you will see what I mean if you go 2) residuals of the French Empire and colonialism 3) living proof of a secular states at work and 4) the notion of pleasure for pleasure's sake.

To find the hammam, you want to go in the side where there is a courtyard cafe (on the other side from the museum entrance)on la rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hiliaire - when you walk into the building from the outdoor courtyard you will see a dessert stand/cart on your left - go behind this through the doors and you will then enter the hammam.

Prices/times/details for hammam/restaurant:

Women: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday - 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday - 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Men: Tuesday - 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Sunday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Other notable hammams in Paris:

LES BAINS DU MARAIS, 31-33 rue des Blancs-Manteaux - 75004, T. 01 44 61 02 02.
Women: Mon 11h00-20h00, Tue 11h00-23h00, Wed 10h00-19h00;
Men: Thu 11h00-23h00, Fri 10h00-20h00, Sat 10h00-20h00:
Mixed (swimsuits are mandatory): Wed 19h00-24h00, Sun 11h00-23h00.
Hammam €30, with treatments €60. M Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville. Modern and sparkling with a cafe.


Article about the Mosquee de Paris - Hammam:

Zee needle in zee haystack

There are many free resources when job hunting in Paris for a job that will use your English speaking skills and knowledge of the U.S/anglophone business world. I have tried here to put these together for you - one stop shopping as it were. If anyone knows of any other useful tricks - please add them.

Les conseils:

Getting a job in France is difficult for two reasons 1) French unemployment levels have rarely dipped below 10% in recent years 2) If the job isn't given to a French person, then it will likely go to a European who already has papers and is possibly already living in the capital.

BUT! As a bilingual American who is savvy in both the French business and cultural worlds as well as the U.S. business and cultural worlds - you have something unique and desirable to offer. While most Europeans speak English fluently (sometimes better than we do...) it is rare that they know the ins and outs of our business world & business practices and can parlay with top CEOs the way a native can.

The easiest way to get a job in France (Paris) is through a U.S. firm that sends you there as an ex-pat. Secondly, is to go there and look for jobs with U.S. firms based in Paris.

There are a myriad French-American associations, foundations, resources etc in Paris that are available to you either for free or as a result of some creative thinking and internet research. Lists of companies and contacts are posted in a lot of places - you just have to look and then send away your CV.

Les ressources:

American Chamber of Commerce in France sells a list of U.S. subsidiaries (filiales) as well as mentions the names of its board members online.

American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (idem)

U.S. Embassy in Paris - Commercial Services - one of their roles is to sell a listing of U.S. subsidiaries based in France.

FUSAC - free newspaper on the street as well as website that lists job posting for bilingual (English, French) speakers.

American Church in Paris - go to their website or visit the actual church for postings on jobs, babysitting gigs, groups... whether you are religious or not this is a great resource.

FPA - Foreign Policy Association - has a job board that groups job listings (involving foreign affairs) worldwide -

FUTURESTEP - job board that posts positions worldwide and has posts for both the public and private sectors -

USAJOBS - official job board of the U.S. government, lists jobs worldwide including Departments of Commerce and State (there is a foreign commercial service officer exam) -

European American Chamber of Commerce - sells lists and has job postings/company expansions and other news regarding U.S. firms in Europe -

UNIVERSITY ALUMNI CLUBS - don't overlook alumni connections, lots of universities (NYU, Columbia, Cornell...) have a France chapter and could serve as a good contact.


TALENTS.FR - don't forget recruiters (while most may require working papers, some don't)

Lots of French companies allow you to build a profile on their website and/or apply to jobs via their website e.g. LOREAL, CLARINS... many of these large French corporations will be interested in your profile. While time consuming, this can have great results!

While jumping the hurdle of not having papers will be tough, if you have a good work experience background and have honed your CV and lettre de motivation writing skills, speak French fluently and know how to sell your specific skill set - there is no reason why a French company wouldn't want you. You have something that they cant train their staff on (25 to 35 years of being a native and all that goes with it - having worked in the U.S., having a U.S. degree and the ability to bridge the cultural gap and relate to clients stateside).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Work in France, without the visa!

While working on my M.A., I had a lot of time to dedicate to researching jobs for post graduation. At the time, my ideal job involved working for the French government in the realm of economics/trade; but I didn't know where and how. I came across a website for the DREE (Direction des Relations Economiques Exterieures) which seemed perfect, or so I thought. After working arduously on a cover letter and resume in French - I sent them off only to be rejected (very formally and properly) with a written letter sent from Paris letter months later.

Luckily, the story doesn't end there. As I was networking in NYC and trying to speak with as many people in the French-speaking/New York City world - I ended up with an interview with someone at the DREE office in NYC. What began as an informal interview turned into 3 hours of interviews with 4 people, one of whom was the top boss and three weeks later I was hired. MAGIC!

All this to say that there is an entire field out there open to Americans (or other anglophones equipped with proper U.S. working papers) with extensive backgrounds in French/French Studies and who have some previous experience in business. Working as a Trade Attache for the French Embassy Trade Office in NYC was my dream job and an incredible/invaluable experience - serving essentially as a consultant for the French government advising French exporters on their business and export strategies for the U.S. market - you can work in a number of market segments; consumer goods, transportation, wine/food...

If you have the French language skills - there are a myriad of these agencies located stateside; working for the governments of France, Canada, Monaco, Switzerland, Belgium... all these countries have offices that hire U.S. staff as "locals" (agents locaux) to work in public affairs, tourism, trade & investment, and/or cultural affairs.

The following is a non-exhaustive listing of such agencies, based in the States:

French Embassy - Trade Offices in U.S. :
Invest in France:
Invest in Canada:
French-American Chamber of Commerce:
Development Economic Western Switzerland:
Greater Zurich Area:
Location Switzerland:

Monaco Government Tourism Office:
French Government Tourism Office:
Canada Government Tourism Office:

French Embassy - Cultural Services:
Swiss Embassy - Cultural Services:

French-American Foundation:
French-American Cultural Foundation:
Alliance Francaise:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have job, will travel

During my undergraduate studies, where I finished with a B.A. in French and Psychology - everyone assumed that I would teach French for my career. I come from a family of teachers so I have nothing against the career - but I 1) don't consider myself masterful enough to be able to teach someone else the language and 2) it wasn't what I wanted to do.

Upon graduating and moving back to the U.S. from France, my childhood best friend was working for an international, educational travel company and suggested I apply for a job. Having never previously heard of this industry sector, I did and thus began a professionally and personally fulfilling career.

The educational travel industry is relatively small but the jobs available in marketing, sales/clients services and operations allow for international travel and a fun, fast-paced job - most positions require language skills and extensive overseas experience. Therefore, these companies are filled with like-minded people who have travelled the world and want to offer that life-changing opportunity to others. The industry is largely Boston-based and some firms have satellite offices throughout the U.S.

ACIS (American Council for International Studies) -
ACIS is the company for whom I worked and is the best in the industry. ACIS offers high-quality, educational travel programs to students (high school and university mainly) from a company that cares and it shows. ACIS is a subsidiary of AIFS (UK based non-profit that organizes study abroad)

EF Educational Tours -
EF is the largest firm in the industry yet sells itself as a budget travel company for students. EF has many divisions and subsidiaries and includes study abroad, au pair programs et al. EF is a Swedish company at origin and its HQ in Boston is impressive.



AAA (Academic Arrangements Abroad) -
AAA is NYC-based.

Post 9/11, this industry suffered and several smaller firms were acquired by the larger ones. While the industry has changed over the past few years - I recommend this field to anyone who believes in travel as a means to learn about other cultures and connect peoples from all over the world. While not a high-paying industry overall, the perks of travel and a fascinating job position are "priceless".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cherchez le job

My impetus for creating this blog as a resource for those who are in search of a mid-career job in French-American affairs stateside or overseas in France came from my own search and finding lots of resources through endless internet searches, advice from others, and simple trial and error but no ONE resource.

There is so much out there and I attempt to put it all in one place, here. My best advice to anyone looking for a job - know your passion, know your strengths and weaknesses and never give up.

A couple of tips:

Some of the best results I have had in my own searches have come from unconventional practices - buying lists of French subsidiaries from either the French-American Chamber of Commerce, the French Trade Offices in the U.S., or looking online and throughout websites and then sending unsolicited CVs and cover letters directly to top management. The American Chamber of Commerce in Paris sells a list of subsidiaries but also offers a down loadable version of "Doing Business in France" for free as well as listing their board members online (good clue to some prominent U.S. firms based in Paris).

The problem with this career path is that it is unusual and therefore there isn't a box to check off on the normal job boards (i.e. Monster, Hotjobs...). This makes for a laborious job search but also an interesting search with quite incredible results!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Perfect France

Bonjour a tous;

I have started this blog to serve as a resource for those out there that either want to visit France, work in France, and/or work for a French-American entity in the U.S. This is aimed at either visitors to France who seek to grasp a deeper understanding of this beautiful and incessantly interesting country or to find a mid-career job working in the vast field of French-U.S. relations (cultural, economic, political...).

This is not, as the French say, a palmares - this is rather a listing of advice and experience and useful links that I have acquired over 16 years. I have mixed job hunting items with favorite little cafes, museums, walks, and tried to decipher French business lingo and practices.

Comments/corrections are welcome. I am not expert - I just would like to help others in their search for the perfect France - be it a job, a walk through the street, a delicious meal, the discussion of a hot-blooded issue or a good book.