What to consider when doing business in France


Wherever you do business, you want to make a good first impression, and when doing business abroad, it may be trickier to judge what will achieve this. One aspect that’s important is having an in-depth understanding of the countries you are engaging with as well as the language they speak.

To this end, we have put together an in-depth series of informative articles which aim to aid your overseas business ventures. The first article looks at one of our closest neighbours. We have consolidated the key considerations, for both local culture and language, to keep you informed when communicating with businesses in France.

It will be no surprise to hear that conducting market research before launching a product or service in another country is the best way to gauge current opinions of your brand. However, when designing your survey, it is important to first consider what you already know about the country and language to ensure you ask relevant and appropriate questions to gain valid responses. Here are some facts for you to take into account before launching in France.

Cultural considerations

  • Unlike the UK or USA, in France it is illegal to ask someone to classify themselves by ethnic origin
  • In France there are 11 days of national holidays per year
  • Punctuality is important but if you arrive within ten minutes of your appointment you will not be considered late
  • However, make sure you have an appointment as ‘dropping in’ on someone without an appointment is considered rude and unacceptable

Language considerations

  • When translated, your text is likely to increase by about 10-15%
  • Chevrons are used instead of question marks
  • Aside from France, 31 other countries use French as an official language.
  • There are several different variations of the French language and it has many different dialects. Metropolitan French (Standard French), Belgian French (spoken in Belgium), Swiss French (spoken in Switzerland), Quebec French (spoken in Canada).
  • It was considered rude and improper not to address a stranger or superior as ‘vous’ in the past. However, the more informal term of address ‘tu’ is increasingly being used in business and politics
  • Approximately 20,000 new words are added to the French language every year

Doing business in France

To France and beyond!

Our in-house Project Managers and French mother-tongue translators are all very experienced linguists. If you have any further questions about doing business in any country please let us know and we’ll be happy to help. Call us on +44 1727 862722 or email us: enquiries@thelanguagefactory.co.uk.

Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter feed for the next instalment in this series. If you have a preferred country you would like to hear about next, let us know!


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