Every romantic dreams of someday living in France. From the mighty cliffs of Normandy to the rolling vineyards of Burgundy to the towering peaks of its Alps, the French countryside personifies aesthetic beauty in itself. Beyond natural magnificence, the art, literature, philosophy, and cookery of France comprise a highly refined cultural tradition which has remained centrally influential to Western society throughout history. Volunteering in France allows visitors to make a positive difference in local communities, while indulging in the French lifestyle, considered one of the finest in the world.
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For starters there is Paris. The capital of France has been a cultural, artistic, and political capital of Europe throughout history, and today is considered to be one of the five most globally connected cities on earth. A big, beautiful city with a rich historical tradition, yet like any large metropolis, the city has its share of social problems bringing about a need for international volunteers in Paris.
Other large cities, such as Lyon and Marseilles offer a similar opportunity to experience the bustling French cosmopolitan lifestyle while volunteering in France. Lyon is nicknamed the “Capital of Lights” for its annual Fête des Lumières festival, while Marseilles is France’s largest commercial port city pristinely situated on the Mediterranean coast.
Montpellier, Nice, and Toulouse are a few other popular metropolitan volunteer abroad locations in France. These cities offer a less hugely international, more authentically French feel, for all the cultural purists out there.
You may also want to experience a more rural side of France while volunteering. There are many smaller towns and provinces which offer foreign nationals the option to volunteer in France in a variety of projects in a more relaxed pace of life.
Projects & Placements
Though France is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, like everywhere else on earth life in the big city has its way of leaving some people behind. There are a variety of social work and community development opportunities for volunteers in France who are interested in tackling the problems of French urban life and helping the country’s poorest populations.
Education is perhaps the most common field of placement for volunteering in France. Positions can vary from teaching in a classroom setting to conducting private tutoring sessions to even living with a French host family as an English mentor. Generally, these positions are open to participants who speak a high level of French, and can communicate effectively with their students. However, there are also a variety of volunteer programs in France which combine French language learning with English teaching for those who are not up to fluency.
Another placement for volunteers in France is working on one of France’s plethora of vineyards or agricultural fields. This can be a good way to live a more leisurely paced life in the French countryside, but is understandably also hard work. Some programs will offer a combination of agricultural work with ecological or environmental preservation studies.
Volunteer programs in France typically last from two weeks to a few months.
Costs & Affordability
On the whole, France can be an expensive country to live in; so volunteers will often find themselves paying a considerable price for the opportunity to volunteer abroad in France. However, many program fees are inclusive of food, lodging, and transportation, taking this load off your wallet up front. Consult the specific program which interests you for more details on what is included and check out funding opportunities available in GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory for programs abroad in France.
Accommodation & Visas
Many volunteer programs in France offer the chance to live with a host family, giving participants the opportunity to perfect their French while gaining an intimate perspective of the local culture. Shorter-length programs will frequently organize group accommodation while you volunteer in France. For longer volunteer programs, you may also want to look into renting an apartment or flat, depending on your placement location.
Depending on your home country and the length of your stay, you may need to organize a temporary visa at a French Consulate. Foreign nationals can apply for a short-stay schengen visa valid for up to 90 days or a long-stay visa for durations exceeding this three month limit. Consult GoAbroad’s French Embassy Directory for information on the specific policy for your home country.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
From ancient history to its current influential position in global affairs, France has always remained a focal point of the European identity. Culturally sophisticated and naturally beautiful, you will discover no shortage of culturally immersive experiences and professional growth or educational opportunities volunteering in France.
In a country which sprawls from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, when you choose to volunteer in France you will have the chance to have a positive impact on local communities while being exposed to the true meaning of allez les bleus!