Recently I ran across an international postdoctoral opportunity, which seems quite interesting to me. While I would prefer to stay in academia in United States, there are various factors that enable me to consider that opportunity, including potential for work on an interesting and important topic as well as an opportunity to immerse myself in somewhat different cultural, language and, perhaps, academic environment (thanks to my relative freedom from family obligations at the present time).
The problem is that the opportunity is at one of the universities in France, which creates several issues (beyond the obvious one of being accepted). The issues (and corresponding questions) are somewhat specific to my situation, but, at the same time, likely rather common to many people, who are originally from non-Francophone countries. Specifically, I'm concerned about the following.
How feasible is to consider such an opportunity from the foreign language perspective? I am talking about the fact that I practically do not speak French (discounting a very limited number of popular words and phrases)? While English language is considered a de facto universal language of science, I expect this aspect of academic environment to vary significantly from country to country (probably much less from university to university, even in major cities).
Combining that assumption with my, perhaps, incorrect knowledge that English is not as popular second language in France as in some other European countries, such as Sweden, this aspect brings an additional potential challenge of everyday living in a foreign language environment. I am aware of the fascinating approach of learning languages by immersing yourself in different cultural/language environment, but I'm not sure that it is such a good idea under the circumstances, considering that a postdoc position is demanding enough already. Thus, I am curious about the following question: is that a real challenge and to what extent?
How feasible is to consider such opportunity from the perspective of me being a US citizen without French work visa or similar documents in hand. I realize that, typically, AFAIK, selected international candidates' visa documents are processed by hosting universities. However, the question is this: how significantly the potential burden [financially and time-wise] of visa processing and, perhaps, relocation negatively impact hiring committees' decisions and, thus, reduce international postdoctoral candidates' chances to be offered a position of interest? I am interested in answers to this question from both general and local (France) perspective.