Doing Business in France

Doing Business in France

Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:19:38

By Eliana Rocchi |


Located in the heart of Europe and third in the world in attracting foreign direct investments, France could prove to be a strategically good choice for expanding your business.

France is one of the Eurozone countries that coped better with the financial crisis thanks, among other measures, to its support to international trade and foreign investments. The amount of red tape and the administrative formalities that a foreign company has to comply with in order to settle in France has been substantially reduced, and foreign companies enjoy the same government aid as national companies. France is also known for having quality infrastructures and for providing productive and qualified work force.

The most flourishing sectors in France are agriculture, manufacture, telecommunications, tourism, electronics, aerospace, weapons and cars.

Here are some tips for establish good business relationships in France:

Business etiquette in France is characterized by an adherence to culture and style. The French have an innate sense of style in everything from clothing to creating their environments, which will be apparent in both casual and business interactions.

It is very common in a new business setting to greet people with a handshake, and to give a handshake upon departure. Until and unless invited to do so otherwise, one addresses the French by using an appropriate title and the last name. It is important to be formal and use the appropriate titles, including professional designations. While polite, the French are not overly warm as is common in the US. Maintaining eye contact is important, and the French hold eye contact more than people do in the US. Conversation and language are forms of art, and Americans are often viewed as loud and boorish: it is important to appear and sound elegant.

More likely than not, the French will have a very good understanding of English, but it is important for a non-French speaker approaching the French to excuse oneself for not knowing the language, and then learning some key phrases to demonstrate the desire for a long-term, serious business relationship. Remember that in written communication French are always very formal.

Business cards may be exchanged after initial introductions. In order to show careful attention to detail and a respect for the French and their customs, it is in the businessperson’s best interest to have one side of the business card printed in French. The French also take academic degrees seriously, so it should be included on the card.

Business meetings need to be scheduled at least two weeks in advance, and not to be scheduled during the standard vacation months of July and August. Meetings are to decide issues and negotiate, but not to make decisions. Negotiations should be made using logic and analyzing details, no matter how minute: the French value direct, rational, and logical presentations that appeal to the intellect and explain advantages in full. As a result, one must be patient with the slow pace of conducting business. One must not be confrontational or attempt to use a hard-sell tactic. One should be ready for a good debate and have the ability to present a keen and logical grasp of the situation. One can also expect agreements to be formalized in extremely comprehensive, and precisely worded contracts.

Business may be conducted over meals; lunch is favored. Is it important to avoid smoking and hard alcohol, as it affects the palate. Wine is served during meals. Spouses are not included in business lunches, but may be invited for business dinners. Dinners are more commonly for social interaction, rather than business. Seating is important and based on rank; one should wait to be told where to sit. It is very important that one keeps his hands on the table, but not elbows; do not keep hands on the lap. While there are many minute rules of etiquette, a particular rule to remember is that it is rude to have food left over on the plate.

Gift giving is another form of art. It is important to give a beautifully wrapped, tasteful, high quality gift; if the gift does not meet all of the criteria, it is best not to gift at all. Flowers should be given in odd numbers, except for 13; never give white flowers, red carnations, chrysanthemums, or red roses. Wine is incredibly important – if giving wine, it should be of exceptional quality.


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