How French Bureaucracy Changed How I Use Start-Ups + Gidsy + InDesign

Anyone who follows my blog knows about my ongoing struggle to stay in France. As of last spring, my documentation and renewal process for my carte de séjour got much “easier” (mainly because I’m valid for a year, rather than three month chunks). In order to work in France, you have to have a particular status. I am profession libérale. As an étrangere I have the right to work, sauf salarié. This is awesome. I am a freelancer/contract worker so it fits perfectly with the work I do. However that one little exception – that I’m not allowed to work salaried (presumably for fear that I’d be taking a job from a Frenchman, despite the fact that I have created a skill set and knowledge base that very few possess) – only hurts me in one particular situation: I am not allowed to teach at a university. Even if it is only a 3-day course, by French law (always subject to change and interpretation), teaching constitutes standing up in front of students in a class room, and is ALWAYS considered salaried work. A pity, because when I was still on my student card, I had a shot at it, loved teaching, and ironically was allowed to work under that status. The catch? If I was married or PACSed (French civil marriage), I’d be able to teach in that context. Messed up, non? Instead, I’ve been forced to get creative.

Fast forward to the internet (something France tends to be a few steps behind on. I blame it on the minitel). There are awesome platforms that are starting to be able to help facilitate doing what I love and overcome the major road blocks France has put in front of me. (Throughout, I have also worked to create a job for myself that I can do from anywhere). Gidsy is one of the platforms which is allowing me to teach, but just in an independent context. The platform for “unique activities by real people, anywhere” is just what I needed to offer private, small group and team training InDesign workshops. The other bonus? Not only does the site work as a great marketing tool for new people to discover what you do, but you get paid through the service right after you complete the activity (a huge bonus for freelance types who are used to having to hunt down payments, or receive them 45+ days after a job is complete). And while my workshops are offered in Paris according to the listing, theoretically I can offer them as I travel as well. The current version of Gidsy offers a calendar, and I have a few workshop times listed, but my schedule is highly flexible, so I’m always happy to work with people to find a time that works for us both. I’m also happy to customize the workshop to the skills, whether it be marketing, blogging or Photoshop, so you get the most out of our time together.

If you know anyone who may be interested in my InDesign Crash Course, please share the link!

P.S. Don’t miss my latest side project, Studio/Practice, a curated library of tips and tools for creative biz! Follow us on twitter @studiopractices.


  • Hi, Anne,

    I kind of poo-pooed Gidsy when you first posted about it, but now I’m beginning to see the potential. With adequate feedback provided on the site, which should increase with time, and an expanded definition of what locals can provide, such as cooking classes, design courses, etc., I can really see this as something I might want to take advantage of. Kind of cool, in other words!

  • Hi Robert,

    Great comment! There are a few platforms in the spirit of Gidsy which are super great. They take out the pain of admin and marketing, and it’s really up to the user to get creative. The possibilities are really endless. The next challenge is to articulate/communicate what you’re offering + engage and attract users.

    Hope you get to try it out at some point.


  • Well, Minitel; they made the error to make it a French-only system; a closed and “nationalized” (owned and controlled by the french State) system; not able to really evolve.

    Have you found a new appartment with enough habitable square meters; Anne?

  • Hi Anne,

    You could also offer online courses, to reach people all over the world,with videos, your worksheets, and perhaps some group calls to personalize it more.

    Just curious, with your visa you can’t give classes in France as a ‘vacataire’? I have some friends who do this, but then again they are from a European country.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Laura, There are several versions of online design courses online already. For me the in person connection is really important for this subject (mainly trouble shooting). Also, following along vs. doing along with are very different. The in-person thing takes away a lot of the frustration of learning something new. But don’t worry, I’m in talks for an online course, just a different subject :)

    Vacataire came up in my research but didn’t apply to me, or the university I was talking to – one or the other. Really, I could just invoice for design or communication, but HR has to be willing to do that.


  • Hi

    I hope you will reply, I am sure you get heaps of people asking questions.

    I know you are not an expert on visa etc.

    I am doing lots of research looking at different blogs and forums etc.

    As an Australian over 30 the only visa option for me to be able to live and work in France is “For running or creating / owning a business”.

    It entail a lot of the things you have spoken about it preparing a business plan etc

    I am trying to figure out if (it’s a very long shot) I got this visa, can you work on the side for someone as a contractor etc.

    I am trying to find a way to live in the French alps. I have an friend who lives there and says a small snack bar could be for sale, but it is only a seasonal business during the ski season. So I would need to be able to do something during the rest of the year.

    I am trying to figure out what would stop me from being able to work for someone else during the rest of the year.

    All this reading about what visa you have and your visa status is confusing.

    thanks kindly


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