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Ask HN: How's the Paris startup scene?
89 points by bandrami 74 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments
We're moving there next year for my wife's job. What's the startup scene in Paris like? How good does my French need to be? Are there any languages/platforms/etc. that are popular there more than in Silicon Valley/Fairfax County (the places I'm used to working)?



Ok, so a lot of people here are comparing the french Startup scene to what it was before. I understand why, but it's misleading.

Yes, compared to what it was before, it's booming. But it was ridiculously bad before.

However compared to what's happening in the US, it's still lagging.

Innovation is alright, however investment and risk taking are nowhere close to the American standard. It's still very meh.

The culture of flexibility is starting to sink in, but again, you will face the french "lutte des classes" legacy, with old style hierarchies and management structures.

And of course, even including social benefits, the salary is 2 to 3 times less than in the valley. But they will publish crazy requirements in job offers.

On the other hand, working in France is sweet. Paris is great city, and the life style is super nice. And while French people can have a pretty negative attitude, they won't tell you everything is ok or doable before even checking they can, or be artificially friendly to the point it's weird. All in all, it's a lot less pressure.

Best bet is to actually live in France, but remotely work for an American company.

Plus you can buy actual tomatoes and not red plastic balls.


> even including social benefits, the salary is 2 to 3 times less

Yea... no.

Especially if you factor in the cost of life.

Edit: Average salary in SF for tech workers is $142k vs $56k in Paris [1].

Once adjusted for cost of living, Paris is roughly 86k$ [1].

Now, you add all the social benefits, like free health care, retirements etc. And if you have/plan on having children, you can add free education as well.

All in all it's very far from 2-3 times lower.

[1] https://hired.com/state-of-salaries-2018


Man, I should really try to get that 13k € raise out of my employer! Just to point that average does not mean that every tech worker get that. And I'd bet that in Paris 56K$ is either very senior pay grade or management.

You can also add, among the benefits, the good network of public transport (even if some lines are overloaded).


> Just to point that average does not mean that every tech worker get that.

Well, no. That's the point of having an average.

Would be good to have stats for median salary as well


In my experience, €50k is pretty much middle-of-the road for software developers. That's what I had after ~2 years experience. Beginners get 40k out of college.

Freelancing is also a good option, with daily rates ~400-700€ depending on experience, you can make a much better living than a regular employee.


Bear in mind that that would be the rate charged to the client. In France you'll have to actually have a company of some sort and then you'll get some form of salary (either dividends or actual salary).

The ballpark for your actual cash in hand, assuming no other costs for the company, would be whatever you charge divided by two (social security isn't actually free).

Of course, some things can be expensed, which is a huge advantage, for example a company car or motorbike, a laptop, etc). But it's not entirely free if you use them on your personal time, theoretically you have to pay income tax on some of the object's value.

So the numbers are, considering 220 working days a year (which is probably optimistic, because you have to budget some days to find and develop new leads, plus vacation, sick days, etc):

400 € / day = 88 000 / year => 44-45 000 after tax

Another thing to bear in mind is landlords and banks have a strong preference to rent / lend to people with a stable, long-term contract (CDI). As a freelancer, especially in the beginning, you'll probably encounter quite a few of them who won't want to do business with you. Plus, being a foreigner won't help.

Source: I'm doing the freelance thing.


Absolutely. The free healthcare alone makes up for the lower salaries in France.

My friend is diabetic and in poor health, he would go broke if he lived in America and not Europe.


I mean, you can pay for amazing healthcare for yourself for 800 a month (10k a year) or a family (15k a year) in the US. And if you work for a big company they cover ablot of this. It's pretty easy to calculate in salaries, and doesn't bridge the gap between countries.


I'm not sure those "amazing healthcare" numbers are correct...


Not in tech. The difference it tech salary is bigger than for other fields. It's unusually low in France, and usually big in the US.


? if he/she was SW Eng. in SV ?


French working for an American company. Yes.


Yea sure, and a French working for a Dubai-based company would make 5 times more, but that's not really representative of the average case is it?


30% of the french salary goes to social security and retirements.

American salaries are 2 to 3 times higher.

The cost of life is NOT twice higher.

Do the math.

Also remember we are talking about tech. Not all salaries.


> American salaries are 2 to 3 times higher. Cash in hand is 2 to 3 times higher, but compensation is not.

You need to include benefits such as company car, extra holidays (europe starts with 20 + unlimited sick days), 13th month (get paid twice on december), food stamps (around 8€ / working day), ...

And stock options can be part of the package on both side of the ocean. You should value them similarly.

> The cost of life is NOT twice higher. Rent is around twice higher in SF, and contributes for a significant portion of your total expense. Other expenses (leisure, culture, ...) is indeed more slightly more expensive in SF but not by a factor x2.


A couple things... salary is a small part of overall compensation. A 10% or more cash bonus is the minimum as well as some equity (which may or may not be worth something).

Health care is also free for most tech workers or if not free, a blip on the radar. I think I pay $40 a month for amazing healthcare (and I'm in SoCal not in the Bay).


>Plus you can buy actual tomatoes and not red plastic balls.

That's an important perk.


CA has amazing farmers markets.


And in Paris too you need to look around for a place that will sell you good tomatoes. An average supermarket will just have the tasteless red water balls from the Netherlands, at least for 11 months out of the year.


> red water balls from the Netherlands

This was true in the nineties, but due to dropping revenues (especially in Germany) has been corrected by Dutch farmers since then.

Dutch tomatoes are of the highest quality now.


I was writing from repeated recent experience, the last from a week ago when I didn't have time to go to a better place to get tomatoes. Your mileage or taste may vary.


Depending on the preferences Paris can be a pretty poor city or the best city in the world. I clearly fall into the first category. Living 'intramuros' is very expensive when adding the fact that salaries are not on part with major tech hubs. The city is dirty, very polluted (2nd worst area in Europe by air pollution after Moscow - don't have the reference link though), people are rude, and everything so cramped it makes you feel claustrophobic.


Agreed. But I'll take Paris over the valley any day.


Please give me any example of a major world city where living 'intramuros' is cheap lol....

Salaries are on part with major tech hubs (NYC OR SF are WAY MORE EXPENSIVE than paris and salaries match at the end)

Paris is the 15th most polluted city in europe and not the 2nd...

"People are rude" - is a generalization and racism toward parisians. plus if you feel like everyone is rude start asking yourself some questions man....

Plus in terms of dirty you never lived in SF or NEW York or any part of China I guess.


I did not say other tech hubs would be nicer to live in, as I could not compare (apart from London). It's just the experience I had living in Paris. By expensive I meant expensive when adjusted with the relatively-low salaries. In the end the only way to know, as parent comment said, is to try the experience. I just stated what I feel is not an uncommon opinion.


To any american, people in Paris will feel rude. To any russian, they will feel over friendly.

It's not racism, it's just social expectations clashing.

But yeah, try to live in Manhattan...


Ha—as a Russian-American, I guess that explains why it felt just right!


Prague, Berlin ? Both are good tech hubs.


Ehh I just left Paris after visiting for a few days. Not that I bought fruits and veggies there, but I found the restaurant scene to be very average. The bistros are all indistinguishable from each other, pretty expensive (probably 25 euros for an entree and a drink), and very mediocre quality. I know you were talking about grocery store produce but a CA area farmers market is probably higher quality than an analogous one there too.


I’ve had way tastier fruits and veggies at a random Parisian street market than at any of the Bay Area farmers markets I’ve been to.


>but remotely work for an American company

How can one find something like this?


You apply to any american job like you are next to them. And once they get interested, you negociate.

You will have a way higher fail rate than usual. But they really, really need good devs, and they are getting more rare and expensive, so some agree.


> the salary is 2 to 3 times less

so it’s negative?


Yes, you will be paid much less.

But you will stay less hours at the office as well.

And you'll get way more time off.

Also you get to go to the Fontainebleau forest, eat to the "Pates vivantes" in the 9e, and can just walk to buy stuff most of the time. Or roller skate.


I believe they were unhelpfully commenting on your grammar.

They read "2 to 3 times less" as "-200% to -300%" instead of "33%-50%".


Ah :) Well, french and all that.


Rule of thumb is that half the salary amount (e.g. 120k USD to 60k EUR) in Paris will get you about the same or better quality of life as you have in NYC or SF, once you account for differences in how real estate, taxes, healthcare, and retirement work.


I don't know any dev doing 120K USD (105k EURS)__as a salary in Paris. I doubt there are many. If you want to make this figures, you need to be a freelancer, which means no job safety, looking for clients, and paying for social security and requirements yourself.

French salaries for dev are in the 30k to 70k depending of your level. 70k is rare. You need to be good. To be able to negotiate or have a rare skill.

However 120K USD is not rare in the US. I had proposals for 220k.


No, he is saying that if you make 120k USD in SF, you can have the same quality of life with 60k euros in Paris, not that 120k$ == 60k euros.


$120k in SF is considered poverty level. And 60k Euros in Paris is nowhere close. 60k means you don't just get by you actually can live. I know because I have.


Nope. I currently work for an American company. They pay me 144k euros (before taxes). This include retirements and social security.

Same job in France would be 65k if I negotiate REALLY well.


For the retirement bit, that's assuming that France's 110% of GDP debt or so won't balloon in the future and pensions won't be slashed by the time your retire.


Yeah... I wouldn't count on retirement too much.


I live in Paris, am french, and have been working at the same startup for more than a year and some months now.

The scene is very active, any new company these days will always brand themselves as a "startup" no matter how they function behind the scenes. So alot of "false advertising" when you postulate, "we're cool and all, we SOMETIMES allow a day of remote work a week" and typical bs like that.

Your french will need to be good, because it has been proven time and time again that we are bad as flip at learning languages and if you watch statistics online you'll see we're worst ranked in the entirety of Europe in languages.

Used to be that there were some "startup heavy" districts inside Paris, still is the case, but now we also have the brand new "Station F" that sells itself (or rather Macron sells as) the next Silicon Valley of Europe.... Never heard that anywhere...

My SO is currently in internship at station F and she told me the turnover is pretty crazy, it's more of an incubator that helps new startups get on their feet, so they'll probably stay around 6 months and then move far away to get cheap offices. Also apparently their selection process is run by old investors that have no idea what they are doing and if you simply sell your sh#t product/service well enough you'll get in. From what my SO told me about 50% of the startups over there are your typical "marketing" based "services" that sell you vaporware and invest 99% of their revenue in better "packaging" and what not, if you know what type of "company" I'm talking about...

Last thing, you'll probably get a good pay since your resume mentions the words "worked at Silicon Valley", but from my experience, every single HR will try to f#ck you over when you are being hired, so you better be a tough negotiator. For reference I currently earn 30k eur (about 21k after tax) a year as a junior (2 year xp) full-stack dev (mainly node, php and alot of sysops)

I'd resume by saying that overall, startups in Paris are more akin to those in SF than the Silicon Valley if you know what I mean. That might be your sort of thing, but I'm more of a "I want to build the future with my new js framework" type of guy... So have been considering moving out of France.


Just a comment but 30k for 2 years full experience seems low. I'm working in another European capital and I'm at 40k for a similar full-stack dev role.


I know it's low and am currently looking for a better job somewhere else (which I am pretty confident I could get) but these things take time and I have alot of other stuff to deal with in my life atm. Don't really like my job right now at all, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do...


If you need a better paying job and need it fast, everyone in Paris is looking for developers, including myself. I'd love a good dev with some skills in sys, you can easily find my mail by taking a look at my HN profile if you're interested.


It's on the low end, depending on what you work on. In my experience (on the recruiting end) beginner developers in Paris can get ~40k€ pretty easily by getting several offers. More if they're good negotiators / come from a prestigious school.


It's low for Paris too. I'm doing mostly back-end, at 2 full years of experience (discounting internship, though) and I'm at 36k€.


What country?


Ireland


Finding a flat in Paris is a hassle, even when you're French. There is this great startup (disclaimer: they're friends) who can act as you guarantor should you need one: https://www.garantme.fr/en They have a discount for the HN community that you can redeem using the coupon YC2018


Those 30k seem really low for current Paris standard. I started at 40k as a graduate in a seed-funded startup 2 years ago. If I had stayed there, I would definitively be between 50k to 60k.


Were you an engineering graduate ? Because 30k€ even in Province right now is extremely low (university graduates are starting at 33k€ in Lyon for example, with engineers 33-38k€)...


Nope, dropout because of financial reasons, got the job because I showed them what I was capable of (which I think is way more important than any diploma in the sector we are in, web) so it was somewhat of a gamble on their part to hire me, hence the low salary, but I just wanted some xp to put on my resume and a roof over my head ^^


Do you have a portfolio? I have some colleagues in Paris looking for a full stack dev right now.


Hi, French here but I don't know much about the Paris scene, more the Lyon scene but they're probably close.

Regarding the French language: you don't need to be good at it. Just learn enough of it so you can show the locals you tried, and soon they'll be ok speaking to you in English. All coding languages are English-based so everybody knows enough to work efficiently with non French-speaking people.

Like the other users said, Station F is the flagship startup trend in Paris but there are many startups that don't go there and just operate in Paris itself, it's up to you to find them using meetups (there are plenty) to network.

Coding language wise, it's difficult to say but from my experience a lot of people are into Node.js and Ruby.

Hope this can help, enjoy your time there


French here too; regarding language, it's rather annoying when there's one only person who don't speak French at work, forcing everyone else to switch. But if the co-workers are young enough, there shouldn't have too much difficulty for them to speak English. And regarding code, all the variable + comment are usually in English.


Expat here, moved to Paris with my SO a few years ago, both working in software development.

It's true that everyone here must know some English, but the average level is bad to atrocious (even among people in their early 20s), and like others in this thread have said, many people hate being forced to switch to English for a colleague who can't be bothered to learn French. You may get by professionally (assuming a company is even willing to hire you if they know all your colleagues will hate you; think "culture fit" for a Silicon Valley way of putting this), but you will not be treated in a welcoming way and will de facto be excluded from conversations at lunch, in breaks, and at social events. I've seen this happen to expat colleagues. All this gets much better if you show that you are putting in the effort and learning, even if your current level is poor.

Really, if you settle anywhere, learn the language. Especially in France. French is neither super easy nor particularly beautiful IMHO, but it's not rocket science either. Not putting in the effort will harm you both professionally and socially.


I'm Canadian (from the western part of the country) who grew up speaking pretty decent French, but lost everything but some traces of my accent when my Grandma passed away. I consider losing that language one of the great failures of my life.

I understand that that would be annoying. In your shoes, I'd be annoyed if they didn't even try to learn French.

I find that when I meet French speakers and want to practice, their first instinct is to switch to English. That's very kind, but it doesn't help me. If I was in a workplace in France, I would want people to speak French first, but slow down a little and tell me when I mess something up.

How would that go over in a workplace? Or is it the kind of situation where you speak English because it's the least annoying choice? :)


In my personal experience, whichever language you use when you first meet someone will be the language you will always use together. If you want to speak French, just struggle the first few times you talk to a new friend/colleague/contact. Then nearly all future engagements they will speak French with you.

FYI I’m native English speaker who speaks French and German. I’ve lived in both countries and my current work brings me to both countries still. I’ve found this experience try for both German and French speaking friends/colleagues.


It depends, in a meeting or for work-related discussion, English would be talked unless everyone is proeficient in French. But in casual conversation, I think you could easily ask people to switch to French.


Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to answer that. Next time I have a chance to speak French, I'll try that out.


Yes and it is kinda annoying if there's only one country which doesn't want to adopt English, forcing everyone to learn their language ;-)

So it is just a matter of perspective. I wonder how the chinese see that picture.


If you're going to immigrate, learn the local language and do your best to adopt the local accent. It's tough, but it's the best investment you'll make in your new home.


Yes, when you are coming to a foreign country you should adapt to that country and not vice versa, the but that wasn't the point of my critique.

I critizied that the people in France are known for their hostility against English. So I just wish they would embrace the international nature of English a bit more.


And Americans are known for their hostility against all other languages. Yet they speak English. Do you know the joke:

“What do you call someone who speaks 3 languages? Trilingual

What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages? Bilingual

What do you call someone who’s speaks one language? American”

I’d be willing to bet that a greater percentage of French population have basic communication skills in a foreign language than Americans.

FYI until relatively recently, French was the Lingua Franca of the world, not English. In fact that was one reason I wanted to learn French, to help me in travels around the world. Yes English is more prevalent now, yet I’ve found French to be more helpful than English in some non native French speaking countries.


I'm not saying you're wrong because honestly, I don't know. I haven't lived enough places to be able to judge anyone on how welcoming they are to foreign language speakers.

One thing I'll tell you is that in my experience, every culture has its own way of expressing annoyance. When those ways clash, it can make people seem way more hostile than they mean.

As an example, if I start a sentence with "Sorry, but..." I'm pretty annoyed, but in some parts of the world, that would be endearing. In other parts, it would be so polite as to be annoying.

One thing I'll tell you is that my country isn't particularly patient with people who don't try to learn English, or with people whose English is poor. We have a reputation for being very polite and welcoming, but I think that's more a function of people just not picking up on cues that we're annoyed.


Or, on the other hand, English-speaking people who never do any effort to learn any other language, assuming that English will be spoken everywhere. :o


> only one country which doesn't want to adopt English

What? You've never been to Europe have you? Try travelling here and speaking English in any country other than the obvious champions like Norway / Sweden / Danemark and you'll come to the crazy realization that people like speaking their own language.


In fact, I am German. I had both English and French as foreign languages in school. I know that Germans aren't that good at English either but the French people are by far the most resistant I have met when it comes to learning English. Yes, they are also the most forgiving when it comes to trying to understand someone who is trying to speak their language but that does not change the first issue.

But hey, on the positive side of things I have a feeling that the younger generations depend less on their own language and have better English skills.


I've never had that experience traveling. Just knowing a few basic greetings and pleasantries is enough, smile a little bit and most people are forgiving


Exactly! Weird how people aren't asshats when you show them you're trying.


Citizen of the ⅐ part of the land. Most of the IT workers here have an A2 or lower level of English.


Since English is only third most spoken language, why would they adopt English?


Because there's a ton of business to be had with English speakers: buying, selling stuff, tourism. Also many of the English speaking countries are very cool to visit or even move to.

There's not that many Spanish, Chinese or even French speaking countries you'd want to move to, as someone from a developed country.


I think the head count is not as imporant as the number of affected countries and the attractivesness of doing business with the people in those countries. Another factor might be the difficulty of learning the language, as English is considered one of the easier lagnuages.


I know this is unrelated, but I thought you might be interested. It's an Arabic programming language, by Ramsey Nasser: http://nas.sr/%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A8/


Indeed it's pretty cool. Thanks :)


Hi French founder here.

Imho: French start-up ecosystem is booming. Still immature in some aspects. Really good tech companies, less aggressive in sales than german for example. Cash is coming really hard from french VCs but also UK and some US.

I consider France a tax heaven for start-up with multiple leverage: - JEI (Jeune Entreprise Innovante) status: basically you pay low employer's contribution - CIR (Crédit Impot Recherche): you have 30% of you Research and Development (if it's really R&D) refunded as tax break or cash. - BPI (Banque Publique d'Investissement): basically some free money, loans and cash for equity investement; Really easy if VCs are already onboard. - Unemployment law. If you've worked enough you get paid for a period of time to find another job and creating a company qualify as finding another job.

Other cool stuff: culture, low salary, top tier math/engineer schools, good business school/MBA, great community but a bit too nice.

Bad stuff: weather in Paris, English is pretty bad (with some progress), French market too small for most businesses, a lot of uneducated BAs, VCs and Entrepreneurs. Europe fragmented market, administration is slow and heavy, overcrowd of start-up recently.


Why do you mention a low salary is cool? Is that a mistake?


As a founder it would be, probably not going to attract great talent though


Average salary is lower than the US so a 2M€ fundraising in EU allow more than a in the US.

It’s not really about attracting talent, that’s really not an issue. Cost of life is lower but also salary includes social security and all.


> great community but a bit too nice

Too nice? Care to elaborate?


French here, not in a startup but in an international company. Meetings are in english as soon a non french speaker is there, but during lunch, discussions are often in french even when non french speaker are present. I know it is not very polite. I really think you must learn french if you come to work in France. Even if your french is totally broken, the effort to speak french will be really appreciated. I have some coworkers who can speak french quite well but asked me to not tell it at work so that they can continue to prented they can't. This is also a reasonnable choice. I think you need to have a good understanding of oral french. People won't care if you make mistakes or if you write mails in english.

I have noticed that OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) is far less popular here than in US. I think that IOS and linux are also slightly less popular than in US.


> I really think you must learn french if you come to work in France. Even if your french is totally broken, the effort to speak french will be really appreciated.

This reminds me of the a story an American friend told me while visiting France. She was at this stand buying something, when the American tourist in front of her, asked the shopkeeper something in English, and the just responded back in French. Frustrated, the tourist left. When it was her turn, she tried to stammer something out in whatever French she could remember from high school. The shopkeep smiled, and then immediately switched into English to complete the transaction. ;)

> I have noticed that OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) is far less popular here than in US. I think that IOS and linux are also slightly less popular than in US.

I don't think OpenOffice is popular at all in the US. I don't think I've anyone that used it. Linux used to be popular with developers, but it seems like almost everyone has switched to macs. iOS is popular though.


I don't know in France but at least in Spain iOS usage is a small percentage compared to Android's


Expat who moved to Paris here.

The tech scene is definitely very active, lots of events and meetups to join and some very active companies with good products around as well as active VC's in the city. Add Station F and The Family and you got a nice place to start a company.

Salary wise, I guess you are looking at 40-70k range, depending on experience and role.

The part where Paris is not that great is moving into the city. Speaking from personal experience, my gf moved in with me and tried finding a job outside tech w/o speaking French and it's basically a nightmare, she moved back. Getting any paperwork done or renting an apartment in Paris is a nightmare as well.

So overall, Paris is nice, but you need to be French or speak French to enjoy it, otherwise it might take some time and in my opinion, it's the only thing that makes Paris fall short of being a good place to move to.


please give me one example of a major city where renting an apartment as a foreigner is not a nightmare lol.. in USA you need a credit score....


I guess any other city than US. I'm fine with paying up front for multiple months, but I was asked multiple times to provide details of my salary for the last 3 months, working for the company that employs me, a FR guarantor (which not coming from France is not that easy to find, I was lucky my company helped me here) + your salary needs to be 3x rent and there's about 20 people looking to move in to every apartment 1h after it's posted on any apartment board.


same in any major high density city. london is worse. ny is worse. sf is worse.


My experience in London was much better... sure, a hot market meant you needed to move fast, but no hoops around local guarantors or months of pay stubs. It was easier than most local rentals I've done in Boston.


Yet strangely, millions of people from overseas do rent apartments in the U.S. every year.

There are even apartment complex chains that specialize in this sort of thing. Oakwood was one, last time I checked, and has buildings in most major cities.

As noted by my Austrian friends, you can do anything you want in America as long as you have the money up front.


oh okey so paying up front 6 months of rent is not a nightmare?


Oakwood doesn't make you pay six months up front. The Austrian comment was not about renting an apartment.


I just checked the rent prices of your "oakwood" in NYC. 8000$ a 1br in manhattan all sold out. I can imagine so many foreigner lucky to rent at such cheap price.


Why are you suddenly confining yourself to NYC? America is a lot larger than that. Your contention was "America," not NYC.


i was just pointing that the price of oakwood is triple the normal price that is why they dont ask you 6 months upfront because ull pay those in two month timeframe LOL


There’s Station F https://stationf.co/ - the “biggest startup campus in the world.” I think FB and Google also rent office space out of there.

Not sure that’s necessarily proof Paris has “made it” as far as incubating successful cos, though. AFAIK the most high profile European tech companies are out of London, Amsterdam, and Berlin.


I'm sure there are loads of confounding factors here, but for what it's worth, a study of tech salaries by Hired.com found that Paris had the lowest cost-of-living adjusted salary of all cities reviewed, at about $56,000 in San Francisco dollars[1].

[1] https://hired.com/state-of-salaries-2018


> What's the startup scene in Paris like?

The start-up scene is currently definitely at an interesting point: really young and active (people already shared links to Startup studios, you should have a look at them). The meetup scene is great too.

The salary is still a pity though (compared to the States, Switzerland or Baltic countries). For a middle developer position, you may be around 40K euros, which is "nice in France", but not a lot, especially after paying your taxes.

> How good does my French need to be?

To work, English is fine, to live, it's another problem. French people are usually really kind to people trying to learn French as it's a hard language. If you don't care about french, people won't care about you.

> Are there any languages/platforms/etc. that are popular there more than in Silicon Valley/Fairfax County

There's a bit of everything, but the Web and Robotics are especially important.


> For a middle developer position, you may be around 40K euros

I won't get into details here but 40k€ before taxes ("brut") for a developer between junior and senior is not considered that good in Paris anymore. It would have been decent 8 years ago but wages went up with the increase in demand. Of course it depends on skills, position, stack, etc...

That being said, you will almost always make more money working as a freelancer, and you will definitely make more working remotely for a California-based startup (which may be difficult because of French employment laws but is still definitely possible).


I don't know how much has changed in the last 5 years, but "more" in the US was at least 3 (over 4 for me) times more. Computer programming (in the mainstream regard) was a "meh" position: something you do while trying to become a manager.

I loved it there and would advise anyone to do it (I'm thinking of doing it again!) - but if money is your goal... I traded an awful lot of "opportunity dollars" for "opportunity experiences".


I am working in Tallinn. This is the first time I've ever heard anyone say anything good about the salaries here. I'm happy with mine, but it would be 3x higher in US and Switzerland (I have also worked there). What do you base this opinion on?


Maybe the poster ment Baltic states as in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany. Norway and UK are also other decent spots.


> What's the startup scene in Paris like?

There is a lively scene, at least for someone with my interests (data science, aka. applied statistics and machine learning), with lots of 'incubators' and related places where startups seem to congregate.

I have been to many events organised or sponsored by the Big Ones (Apple, Microsoft, Google), plus a myriad of smaller meetups and events sponsored by all sorts of companies and public sector organisations.

> How good does my French need to be?

Okay (B-) spoken French is enough to interact with most people, but you will need to understand spoken French much better (A, A+) than you speak it -- it will make your day _much_ less tiresome.

Note that I would say the same about, say, German if you were to move to Germany or Austria. There are only few countries in Europe where English is spoken by such a large fraction of the population that you can almost do without the local language.

> Are there any languages/platforms/etc. […]

I do not know.

Re: other posts ---

Re: wages, it depends on how much you decide to spend on rent. If both you and your wife are working, you will be fine, and will be able to afford a well-above-median lifestyle, assuming that you are not currently in debt and that the IRS won't strip you of all your assets if you return home.

Re: pollution, again, it depends on where you will settle. I would never, ever raise a child in Paris. As for myself, I tend to worry more about noise than pollution, and noise can be awful depending on your street + windows.

(The other significant environmental issue is urban density and parks, or lack thereof.)

Re: food, I was in the USA earlier this year (near Phillie), spending $40 on every trip to the organic food supermarket nearby. The cheapest grocery store in my street has better stuff for at least 4 times less.

Bio note -- I live and work in Paris as well as in Lille (Northern France, near Belgium). I work in a French/English bilingual environment, which is rather exceptional in my sector (higher ed).

Meta-note -- Some comments in this thread speak with comically high confidence of a country that their authors have very obviously not visited, except perhaps for the few square miles in central Paris that exist almost only for Chinese and US/UK tourists.


The biggest startups are all either parts of https://www.thefamily.co/ or https://www.efounders.com/ They are quite impressive in the way they operate


I didn't understand their #1 point "Europe is Toxic"? Does the absence of startups make a place 'toxic'?


Well, you can click on it and be redirected to a full article that explains their position: https://www.thefamily.co/toxicity


I'm not in the start-up world personally but from I understand it's all rather vibrant. I went to Vivatech and was, despite the lack of air in the building, quite impressed with the sheer number of start-ups present.

Having French language skills is a HUGE benefit and was not too long ago an absolutely necessity. It's getting better now and you can more or less get by speaking only English, at least in a professional context. Socially it won't be that great, although if you're motivated I'm sure you'll learn enough for everyday conversations rather quickly.

A good website to check out job offers is https://welcometothejungle.co (in French only unfortunately). LinkedIn is big (how I got my previous job). Also, Hired I've heared (no personal experience).


+1 for Welcome To The Jungle to check out which companies are hiring. If you are a software engineer who doesn't know the ecosystem and want to get offers, I would recommend Paris-based https://www.talent.io rather than Hired. Otherwise, direct networking is always best.


You should also investigate living in Paris and working in London. There are a lot more start ups and financial tech jobs there with salaries much higher. Its only a 2-3 hr train ride and you might be able to work one week on one week off, or short term blips of 6m at a time.


you can start from this:

https://stationf.co/ - startup campus

https://vivatechnology.com/ - annual conference main topic is startups


French software engineer working at startups in Paris since 2010 here.

> What's the startup scene in Paris like?

Booming. A bit too much, if you ask me.

The ecosystem started growing fast when I arrived, basically. In 2011, the first real startup accelerator (Le Camping) opened. At that time, there was a very interesting meetup for the Parisian HN community called Paris Hackers, with very interesting people including founders of Docker (then dotCloud), Capitaine Train (acquired by Trainline), etc.

Today I would say there are at least 10x more startups and 20x more people working in them, which resulted in the average level of people in the ecosystem going down. There are accelerators and incubators everywhere, as well as very interesting things like eFounders (https://www.efounders.com). Meeetups have grown unwieldy large (e.g. the machine learning meetup is often having a hard time finding rooms large enough to fit its 200 - 300 people per session).

As for companies, some startups have become large (Criteo, LeBonCoin, BlaBlaCar, ...); some are obviously growing fast (Algolia, Aircall, Platform.sh, ...); some (like Moodstocks where I used to work) have been acquired by US companies which have set up offices in Paris, among other things to tap into the well known talent at French research labs in CS and AI (Google and Facebook in particular). To accompany all this, more VC funds are opening and rounds become larger and larger.

There is a lot of good to all this, but personally I feel like this is kind of a bubble and I miss the time, not so long ago, when we were all a bit more reasonable.

> How good does my French need to be?

It depends on the company. I would say most tech startups do most of their written work (including chat etc) in English. People might still speak French, but will switch to English when non-French speakers are around if they want to.

> Are there any languages/platforms/etc. that are popular there more than in Silicon Valley/Fairfax County (the places I'm used to working)?

I would say the obvious one is Python for Web backend. The French (and European in general) tech community has adopted Python a lot more while the US was going with Ruby. Some of the larger and older startups use a lot of Scala as well. Newer companies tend to use Go.

There are interesting startups using less popular stacks, especially functional programming. What is propably the largest French startup, Vente Privée, is using some Haskell, and so is https://www.fretlink.com (whose CTO is a former Capitaine Train CTO). https://margo.com is building a bank from scratch with Elixir and Scala (the CEO is the former CEO of Capitaine Train). There are a lot of Erlang people around too.

As you may see I mentioned Capitaine Train a lot because this is how the ecosystem is growing: thanks to disaporas of people from acquired startups (à la Paypal mafia). A few years earlier it was Exalead (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exalead).

If you need more information feel free to get in touch. My email address is on my home page, which is linked in my HN profile.





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