Is there any city in the world which is more iconic than Paris? The City of Love is more than just a historically rich, architecturally beautiful, and artistically inspiring cultural, political, and economic center of the world (although it is indeed all of these things). It is also an urban environment of over 12 million people from all over the globe – and as such it has its fair share of societal problems. Those who volunteer in Paris will be able to truly make a positive impact on this idealized French city.
Volunteering in Paris
The amount and type of available volunteer placements in Paris depends largely on your ability to speak the language. For French speakers a whole world of opportunity becomes open, there are hundreds of local volunteer organizations which help with problems created by poverty and urbanization throughout the city. Soup kitchens, orphanages, and grassroots campaigns are all examples of the type of locations for volunteering in Paris, which are easy for individuals who know French to work in.
If you cannot speak French don’t worry, there are still many international volunteer programs in Paris which give compassionate Anglophones the opportunity to experience Paris while lending a helping hand. Education is the most common type of volunteer work in Paris. ESL teachers are needed throughout the country and can help at daycares, community centers, schools, and even in private family homes.
Restoration and preservation efforts are also popular among international volunteers. While it can prove physically demanding work, there are a large amount of historical buildings and public parks which require continual upkeep by volunteers in Paris.
These are only a few potential volunteer placements in Paris you can participate in. As you can imagine with Paris being such a large city, volunteer organizations have their fingers everywhere. Most volunteer programs in Paris last anywhere from just a couple of weeks up to six months, allowing volunteers to have a good degree of flexibility in deciding when and for how long they want to volunteer in Paris. Though summer is the most popular time to volunteer abroad in Paris, most programs still run throughout the year.
Life in Paris
There is a reason why so many romantics dream of one day living in Paris. Simply put, the city is inspiring. From long strolls along the Seine River and Champs Elysees to catching a show at the Opera Bastille or Moulin Rouge to perusing the endless corridors of the Louvre, there is never any shortage of cultural delight for visitors to embrace.
While volunteering in Paris your leisure time will be very well spent. World class restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, clubs, you name it, Paris has it. If you ever get tired of exploring the city (which should be impossible), then just hit up a local café with a friend and enjoy stimulating conversation over a late afternoon cup of coffee.
You will never have a problem getting around Paris either - the city is very well connected by an expansive metro system which carries 9 million passengers daily. Paris’s major railway station, the Gare du Nord, is also one of the central hubs for travel across France and the entire European continent.
Lastly, on a slightly less exciting note, Paris is expensive. As volunteer in Paris you are likely to have your basic needs met in terms of food and housing, but additional costs throughout the city can amount to a pretty penny. Just be smart with your wallet and take advantage of all the great opportunities that Paris offers free of charge. You can spend entire days in Paris wandering neighborhoods by foot or bicycle and never get bored!
Accommodations & Visas
The two most popular accommodations for volunteers in Paris are homestays and apartments. Many volunteers opt to live in a homestay because it presents a great opportunity to immerse intimately in Parisian family life and experience an authentic side of the city that most will never have access to. An apartment, either living individually or with roommates, can be a rewarding experience too, because of the freedom it allows. If you do go this route consider looking in neighborhoods such as Saint-Laurent and Popincourt, which are affordable and expat friendly.
Coming from most Western countries, you will only need a visa to volunteer abroad in Paris if you plan on living in the city for more than three months. Volunteers coming from the European Union likely will not need a visa to volunteer in Paris at all. If you do plan on volunteering in Paris for more than 90 days then consult your volunteer abroad program for instructions on how to obtain the proper visa (you can also check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for information from the French consulate nearest you).
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering abroad in Paris is a tremendous opportunity to experience life in one of the world’s truly great and global cities, while knowing you are leaving a positive impact behind you. Volunteering abroad is tough work, you will be: living far away from home, working most days, and giving your time freely. However, you will find that the experience of providing for others is immensely rewarding both personally and for local communities. While volunteering in Paris, a large urban environment where countless are left struggling behind, you will know that your efforts are felt and appreciated too.