The expat Facebook pages in Bordeaux get a lot of posts from people hoping to fulfil their dream of living in the Sud-Ouest, but don’t know where to start in their job hunt. Well, here’s an attempt at listing a few of the options when looking for work in Bordeaux.
Author: Chris Tighe
You’re gonna need to speak at least functional French.
Get a car. Bordeaux is very spread out workwise with many companies on industrial estates around the periphery. Employers will often ask if you have one for flexibility and because they know that using public transport is unreliable. In any case, if you stay for any length of time, you’ll end up living outside the center anyway.
Most English speakers head straight to English teaching. The majority of employers are looking for candidates with a degree and a CELTA qualification of some kind. The CELTA (TEFL) courses can be done as a one-month intensive in cities all over the world or online.
Schools rarely hire teachers on full time contracts – it’s a case of slowly building your hours over time based on demand.
Teachers are usually employed on fixed-term contracts for a set number of hours a week, which can block you for other work and stop you from clearing a decent full salary every month. Many of the schools also hire last minute in September in the post-vacances panic!
Here are some of the main schools:
Not forgetting the business schools:
The other major draw for expats is the plethora of English/Irish pubs in town. Do the rounds and chat to the bar managers. They usually hire staff on fixed-term contracts for a set number of hours a week, which can block you for other work and stop you from clearing a decent full salary every month.
Many of the pubs are also on the lookout for chefs and washer uppers…
Try these (I’ve batched together the sister pubs):
Being a waiter in France is a major serious profession but places do take on casual staff from time to time. Another option which worked for me is events waiting/extra work for one of the numerous events caterers in the area. The work is often very long and late hours – you’re expected to come in civvy clothing and help set the event up, then get changed into your suit and tie to wait large numbers of tables in groups, then change back at the end to take the event down. I became auto-entrepreneur and found work more easily as companies could take me on as a casual.
Try calling these to arrange a meeting:
Don’t hesitate to go to see the Thedra events catering agency at place Ravezies with a CV full of hospitality experience.
There are a few events hosting/hostessing agencies around town that look for English speakers to host events. The work will involve being young, smart and very smiley. You’ll find yourself welcoming guests at chateau cocktail dinners, posh corporate seminars and large events, often at the Palais de la Bourse, Matmut or Hanger 14.
‘Manutention’ (unskilled manual work) via recruitment agencies is a good place to start if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. The work can include: stacking shelves in the large stores like Castorama, Leroy Merlin, Ikea etc. and can involve early hours or night shifts; car valeting and washing in the posh dealerships (e.g. BMW) around town; loading and unloading agro-chemical trucks (Laffort); unloading containers with merchandise damaged in transport (JF Hillebrand, Bruges); picking packing for companies like Duclot wine exports etc. I’ve even sold Christmas trees in the Ikea carpark! They can sometimes cover the cost of training for a forklift license at AFPA, which could help you get work at Médecins sans Frontières etc.
If you have a license with a van driver category, delivery companies also take on extras – I was offered an English-speaking position unloading post off planes at Bordeaux airport for UPS as they needed someone who could speak to the pilot.
Teambuilding: I worked for a teambuilding company based in Leognan for a while called Autreman. They run regular teambuilding events and games for large international companies around Bordeaux and elsewhere in France and often look for English speaking hosts.
English-speaking guide: Bordeaux Walking Tours hires staff for each summer season. You can also try Rustic Vines etc. I looked seriously into qualifying to become an official licensed guide – it’s an expensive one-year master’s course at the CNAM and you can then register for regular guide work with Agica.
Translating: If you have any experience translating or related qualifications, get in touch with Hancock Hutton and Aquitaine Traduction. You can also try advertising online or on university noticeboards for work translating or proofreading student docs. You could also specialize in translating specific types of scientific, medical or legal English with the relevant university departments. I tried to set up my own translation company for a while and began cold-calling chateaux and events companies all over the region.
Bear in mind that a lot of local companies are happy to translate French into English themselves (sure that their English is good enough) and don’t understand the importance of text written by a native speaker.
Hotels: local hotels often advertise for English speaking staff. The Euratlantique business park has a number of hotels opening soon and they are keen to hire. The Grand Hotel also has a range of available positions.
Events planning: I worked for an events design company called Depack as an event planner for a while. You can also try Bordeaux Events, Absolute Event and Les Ortigues. If you wanna work in events, a great place to network is the SoEvenements trade fair held every March – make sure you tell them you run a company in the UK or elsewhere are attending to invest in the Bordeaux region… (they are a bit funny about who they give tickets to)
The Airport: aside from the airline companies and airport shops/restaurants and airport itself, try the car hire companies who regularly hire English-speaking staff – Hertz, Europcar, Sixt etc.
International companies based in Bordeaux: a quick Google search will bring these out but here are some of the main ones – Thales, Dassault, Safran, CDiscount, Lectra, Siblu, Oxbow…
Software companies: Bordeaux is an up-and-coming software hub and many companies are looking for developers. But if you’re already a developer, you don’t need me to tell you that.. 🙂
You can also check out iGaming companies like Bookieworks…
There are active groups in Bordeaux for business networking in English. Try these for starters:
You can also get involved in the expat network of clubs and meetups via this blog:
Subscribe to as many websites as possible to find out the latest job openings as soon as they pop up – and do as much networking via LinkedIn as possible!
Try setting up notifications on Indeed among others.
Bordeaux Expats also has a dedicated facebook page called Bordeaux Expats – English Jobs where we regularly post English-speaking job offers in a wide range of sectors.
If you’ve been working in France for a while already, you’ll be eligible for ‘chomage’ (unemployment benefit) which can tide you over during your search. After a couple of years here, I had a chomage window of a few months which saved my bacon and meant I had time to apply for a range of better jobs. Pole Emploi also have their own consultants who can look into getting you on a vocational training course, which may be free…
If all else fails, considering re-training or setting up you own company. Pole Emploi also offer a free ‘bilan de competances’ or skills evaluation that consists of a series of meetings over 8 weeks and can definitely steer you in the right direction.
About the author:
Chris Tighe lives in Pessac, loves the Sud Ouest and helps to run the voluntary blog and FB site, Bordeaux Expats. In his spare time, he works a cosy 36 hour week as a translator for a local tech company. He lives 35 minutes from the beach, a two-hour drive from San Sebastian and has successfully escaped his preordained destiny working 60 hours a week in London, commuting four hours a day on rammed medieval public transport – cheers ears.