Having grown up outside l’hexagone, we’ve all been a bit cheated on the professions we could have had if we were French.
There is an entire array of métiers that simply no one tells people outside of France about or that are kept within the family lineage, passing from one generation to another. What if I could have been a formidable oak-cask maker in Cognac, an umbrella-repair person, a lily farmer in Bordeaux, or simply a professional waiter? The obvious flaws in the educational systems aside, us non-French are truly limited in our choices with options like liberal arts, math, or the sciences. The missing aspect is the true focus on a skill and the pursuit of ultimate excellence in it through an apprenticeship program.
Here are a few of the most fascinating French dream jobs:
1. Cognac Distiller
There might be a reason why kids are not taught about the potential of working in the spirits industry, but it is not the case in France where the liquor Cognac is made. A Master Distiller of Cognac learns to use his palette with such precision that they can balance the liquid to the perfect flavors. It only helps that these people can also smell things like fig jam and Sunday mornings in their alcohol (and let’s be honest, no one else can do this, but we’d love to).
2. Luxury Business
This one is not as exotic, but surprisingly popular and well-spread out in France unlike the states. Working in luxury business is a real profession (think: couture fashion, high-end jewelry, watches, hotels, etc.). It means working on Place Vendôme, traveling in business class, frequenting luxury hotels, and maintaining an impeccable presence. Perhaps it still touches on the importance of status in the society, but it sure beats working at Hollister after college.
3. Cheese Monger
These are usually generational jobs passed down from father or mother to son or daughter, but equally as fascinating. It’s similar to working with a spirit in that you have to identify the right scents, flavors and signs to properly mature the fromage.
There is only a handful of “noses” in the world and even less so American ones. It is truly a job concentrated in France and Switzerland and one that requires the ultimate amount of skill with precious and other-worldly creativity.
Because of globalization, there are winemakers and wineries sprinkled all throughout the world, not only in France. But the chances of working at a vineyard are highest in France. However, it is not a profession that we could just select to study at university; these jobs are all rather more often apprenticeships for young people.
The most interesting French jobs are indeed related to our senses, and the matter of eating is a major one. Who knew that you could spend your teens training to be a pastry chef and make perfect Saint-Honoré cakes?
While predominantly a male profession, a wooden cask cooper (tonnelier, in French) is an art of its own (and it offers a workout). Imagine: wooden casks to age wine and other spirits do not have a single nail or glue, so the entire cask must be made of wood put together in such a manner that it will never come apart.
Featured image: Stock Photos from Christophe Baudot / Shutterstock