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Must I take a course to become a tour guide in France?

There are various regulations dependent upon the precise role of a guide

Language skills are important for tour guides Pic: kkhowptr / Shutterstock

Reader Question: I would like to work as a tour guide. How would I go about this?  

Being a tour guide in the general sense – un guide touristique – is not a regulated profession in France.

This means that if you know your area well, love art or history and talking to people, then you could set yourself up as an auto-entreprise, a simple self-employment set-up.

You could organise your own tours and/or market yourself to tourist offices, tour operators and hotels.

Skills in several languages – at least French and English – are important. It is highly  recommended to take out professional insurance (assurance responsabilité civile professionnelle).

If you want to improve your knowledge, there are various tourism-related courses you can take. 

One source of information would be an adult learning body called the GRETA CFA (you 

can do an internet search with this term and your region).

Some positions are regulated

However, the ‘official’ job of a guide-conférencier is highly regulated and tour operators are legally obliged to use people authorised by the prefecture for this profession in the case of offering visits to state museums and historic monuments.

The main qualification for this is a specific French degree and masters course.

If you believe your prior experience and other (French or foreign) studies mean you have equivalent skills and knowledge, it may be possible to obtain a recognition of this via the 

VAE process (validation of experience) run by universities, or VES (for diplomas) run by Cnams

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