Successful Entertaining in France

It is a truism to say that food is important to the French and that business entertaining should be considered a matter of great importance.

Business lunches are the most common form of entertaining business contacts with breakfast or evening events being much rarer.

Lunch is usually quite a grand affair and will usually comprise of starter, main course and desert followed by coffee. Wine will also often be served.

The quality of French food is a matter of great national pride and therefore talking about food is a national obsession. On the whole, you are much better advised talking about the food or other social issues during a business lunch than talking about business. The meal is a time for cementing relationships and learning more about each other. Business matters should only be raised during the coffee.

If inviting French contacts out to lunch, make sure you take them to a good quality restaurant and, unless you are an expert, let them chose the wine.

Restaurants usually include a 15% service charge but it is still customary to leave a small tip as well. Tipping is not compulsory in France but is recommended. (10% would be adequate.)

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in France

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

France represents both a challenge and an opportunity from a business perspective. It is a large modern economy with a highly educated workforce, a sophisticated consumer base and a solid industrial base of successful companies spread across a range of industries. France is also a country where protectionist policies have proven very hard to remove and where change comes slowly at the macro level.

Recent political changes might indicate that France has recognised the need for a new vision for the country to help propel it into the future. Indeed, we have recently seen the strange sight of France standing up as a guardian of free trade and globalisation whilst the USA looks to retreat into a more isolationist and protectionist approach – a strange situation from a historical perspective.

It certainly seems that France is at a crossroads and only time will tell which route the country choses to take. In the interim, France remains too big an economy to ignore. If you are not doing business in France at the moment you should probably be looking at entering the market in the near future and this country profile is designed to help you understand the cultural landscape you will find when working with French colleagues or customers.

The French have a distinct and unique approach to many aspects of working life and anybody considering doing business in France would be well advised to research some of the specifics of French business culture before embarking on any commercial activities.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of French business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips