IT Contracting in France - Living and Working

Profile written by Matt Walters of Capital Consulting
(updated January 2016)


While the official language of France is French, the main immigrant languages are Maghrebi Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. The main foreign languages spoken are English (34%) and German (8%).

For the English-speaking contractor, the language barrier can be a real stumbling block. While this depends on the area, the sector and a range of other factors, a grasp of the local language and a willingness to make an effort will go a long way.


There is a strong rental culture in France making it relatively easy to find a property for the duration of your contract. Prices for accommodation will of course vary depending on size and location, but a guideline figure of EUR 1300-2200 may be quoted for a small, furnished apartment in central Paris.


One of France’s key advantages in the view of many contractors is its proximity and copious travel links with the UK.

i. Air

The key airports of Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly provide speedy links to all main UK airports by Air France, BA and easyJet among many others.

ii. Rail

The rail journey from Paris to London (St. Pancras), takes just over a couple of hours, with regular departures. There are regular trains from Paris to all major European destinations, including sleeper cars for longer journeys.

iii. Road/Ferry

The drive from Paris to London is about 290 miles and, using the various ferry companies, the crossing alone can take from 35 minutes to over 5 and a half hours.

The main crossings are: Dunkirk - Dover (Norfolk Line 2 hours). Le Havre - Portsmouth (LD Lines over 5 hours), Calais – Dover (P&O Ferries 1 hour and 30 minutes), Calais - Folkestone (Eurotunnel 35 minutes). Using the Eurotunnel, the driving time is approx. 5½ hours.

France has historically been very open to foreign contractors, and its large technology centres near Paris and in Sophia Antipolis provide numerous contract opportunities. France has much to offer the foreign contractor in the way of culture, cuisine, sports activities and tourism; while its proximity and close transport links to the UK allow for an easy return home.

Public holidays in France include New Year’s Day, Easter, Easter Monday, Labour Day (May 1), V-E Day (8 May), Ascension, Pentecost, Whit Monday, Bastille Day (July 14), Assumption of Mary (August 15), All Saints’ Day (November 1), Armistice Day
(November 11) and Christmas Day (December 25).

Official Languages: French (official), English widely spoken
Capital: Paris
Timezone: GMT +1 (+2 in summer)
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Emergency Numbers: 112 (all), 17 (Police), 15 (Ambulance - Severe), 18 (Fire; Less Severe Ambulance)
Key Airports: Paris, Charles de Gaulle (CDG); Paris, Orly (ORY); Nice Côte d’Azur (NCE); Toulouse Blagnac (TLS)
Population: 66,553,766 ( July 2015 estimate)
Elecricity: 220v / 50 Hz
Tax Year: 1st January – 31st December
National holiday: 14th July (Bastille Day)
International dialing prefix: +33
Internet domain suffix: .fr
Cost of living: Paris is ranked 46th on the Mercer Worldwide Survey. London is ranked 12th (2015).
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