Just thought you might like an update on this subject from someone who is currently going through the process of working in France. I qualified with Ad Dip (Adult) in September 2007 and immediately move to Paris because of my husbands work. Having my diploma recognised over here was very simple, I had my diploma certificate and a copy of my NMC registration translated and once these were shown to DDASS (departmental registration authority - everything is regional in France!) they immediately validated my diploma's equivalence and registered me with ADELI making me eligible to work as a nurse in France. There was no language test to sit. On arrival I had no french language other than the few phrases I have used on holiday. I have taken one-on-one private french lessons twice a week for an hour at a time and can just about hold my own socially now but I am by no means fluent. I contacted the British and American Hospitals here and recieved less than helpful responses. Both establishments informed me that I would have to be completely fluent in French before they would consider me. A statement which is not helped by the fact that no-one seems to know how fluent is actually fluent!! There is no standard national french test to passed when looking for work. Having been told I would have to be fluent in French to work at the two english speaking hospitals (which incidentally are roundly criticised by the expat mum's at my childrens school for never having any staff on duty who can actually speak english!), I felt I might aswell try my luck at the local french hospitals even if it was just to find some part-time voluntary work to improve my french to a suitable level for work. I posted speculative letters to the hospitals close to me geographically to test the water intending to extend my search further once I'd had some feedback. Of the first three hospitals I applied to all three invited me to interview, the first interview resulted in a proposition of work but a delayed start of 4 months to improve my french due to the nature of the hospital which provided long term continuuing care and palliative care and would therefore require a higher level of french to converse with concerned relatives. The second interview resulted in the offer of a full time post in operating theatres, but this was a longer commute and I confess the idea of theatre nursing is not my favourite. The third interview resulted in a job offer to work on a surgical ward in a hospital 5mins away from my house, on a CDI contract and with a salary fairly similar to what I could've expected starting out in the UK, but topped up with various primes throughout the next two years. I will start my new job on 10th March to allow me time to sort out childcare and will be working 3 twelve hour day shifts per week which suits me down to the ground.
The job situation is changing in France, they are having a shortage of nurses already and as in the UK have increasing numbers reaching retirement age expected to peak in 2012 I read in one nursing journal today. As a result of this there are regular employment exhibitions aiming to recrute nurses and also with the influx of many other nationalities (particuarly Anglo-saxon) attracted by the french way of life I have found that my english mother tongue has been more of a selling point for me than my poor french has been a hindrance. Most employers here are of the attitude that if you are motivated, once you are fully immersed in a world of working french your language skills will improve rapidly. It is cheaper and faster for them to take the risk and work with you while your language skills improve than it for them to train up new nurses, particuarly while the current discussions about 35 hour week and pay restructuring are happening.
Sorry if I have rabbitted on too long but I felt it was important to say that it is possible and beyond that, it is not as difficult as everyone would have you believe. I was extremely worried about it before I moved here but there have been no problems with registering my qualifications and finding employment here and the french people and authorities I have dealt with have been extremly helpful and supportive to me.
I would reccomend it to anyone, don't be afraid to take the plunge, I have met lots of expat nurses out here who have been too frightened to make the leap and are now unable to work as they have been away from nursing too long and now regret not taking the risk.