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Volunteer abroad, Gap year in Paris

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What is a Volunteer Job?

Volunteer service contributes to the well-being of an individual and the community, and is usually coordinated by a non-profit or public sector organization. These positions rarely offer any salary or wage. Many volunteer experiences even cost large fees. The benefit is that volunteering internationally offers a native's perspective into a country, a chance to work with people from around the world, and unparalleled work experiences.

Volunteering in France

Voluntary work can offer valuable work experience, language immersion, and the foothold to gain legal work in France. (You still need to secure a visa to remain in the country).

Application depends on the organization. Most groups require a formal application, a personal statement, and some kind of deposit or fee. There are periodic deadlines, so check the organization's sites to find out when to apply.


France Bénévolat - Over 180 offices nationwide, Bénévolat serves as a liaison between organizations and volunteers.
France Volontaires - French portal of the international voluntary services of exchange and solidarity. Information, offers of voluntary missions, links with associations, etc.
French solidarity portal - Connection between associations, foundations and the general public. Directory of solidarity organisations by sector. Ads from associations which are looking for volunteers and calls for solidarity missions.
ADICE - Association for the Development of Civic and European Initiatives - This association has for mission the promotion of the young people with fewer opportunities (young people, job-seekers, persons from the immigration). ADICE supports their participation to projects of European and international mobility. Each participant is helped in his project of mobility and is followed-up until 6 months after his return.
Centre d'Information et de Documentation Jeunesse (CIDJ) - Voluntary work camps
WWOOF France - Opportunities to work in France as a volunteer in agriculture. With a small enrollment fee, this organization allows you to work on host farms.
Care France - International organization providing volunteer opportunities that range from combating AIDS to promoting human rights to improving urban development.
International Volunteer Program - Places volunteers in French non-profits for six weeks during the summer. Intermediate knowledge of French is usually required.
Volunteers for Peace - Runs International Voluntary Service projects like historic preservation and AIDS/HIV education. Offers 2 to 3 week camp programs. - Offers the opportunity for ecological studies in France like sampling vineyard ecology and biodiversity in Bordeaux.
Chantiers de Travail Volontaire - Opportunities to go abroad in international workcamps.

The European Voluntary Service (EVS)

The European Voluntary Service is a European Union program that offers young people (between 18 and 25) the opportunity to work as a volunteer for six to twelve months in a non-profit project abroad. Three partners are the key partners of an EVS project: the volunteer, the sending organization and the host organization.
The European Commission take in charge the travel costs for the young, the insurance (health, accident, public liability) and provides a monthly allowance from 140 to 220 euros.

How to proceed: Find a sending organization that will assist you individually along the procedure (you can find contacts through you National Agency, your National Coordinator or international volunteer organizations). Start contacting potential host organizations through your sending organization. Keep your fingers crossed and persevere in your search as the difficulty is not to find a suitable project, but to find a project ready to host you within the time limit you have planned.
You can have a look at the European database on accredited host organizations and the Youth organizations.

In order to know all about the voluntary processs specially designed for young people from 16 to 25, in France or other countries, check on the website Service Civique [EN][FR].

Insurance Abroad

Wherever you go, it is recommended to subscribe a travel insurance. It may also be mandatory for work in more exotic countries.

Many volunteer programs also handle visa arrangements and include insurance coverage in their program fees or as part of their compensation. If the program does not arrange for visas, ask for a letter of introduction to present along with your application for a visa.

If the program you choose does not include insurance, there are many independant providers. Check for travel insurance on Expat-Quotes.

You might also look at our other articles on Summer Jobs and Internship abroad on the left column of this page.

Update 13/02/2013


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