The country of wine and cheese is also one of Europe’s strongest economies and a leader in several technological industries.

France has a rich, complex and turbulent history, and is one of the most powerful countries in Europe, playing an influential global role in the UN, NATO, G8 and G20 countries and the European Union. In recent decades, France has proved vital to the economic integration of Europe and the introduction of the euro in 1999.

The leading industries include machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metals, aircraft, electronic equipment, textiles and food. Any business dealings with France will likely lead to Paris, the country’s business and technology hub.

Facts for investors

  1. France ranked 31st out of 189 economies on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index for 2014.
  2. Paris ranked 5th in the Innovation Cities Index 2014, in which 445 cities worldwide were measured for their potential for innovation.

Business etiquette

  1. Scheduling. When planning meetings, remember the French are entitled to five weeks’ vacation, several of which are usually taken in the summer.
  2. Introductions. If you do not speak French, confirm that your hosts speak fluent English; otherwise, arrange for an interpreter. Learning a few key phrases in French will show commitment to the business relationship.
  3. Credentials. Presenting a business card in both English and French shows attention to detail. Make sure it states your title and any degrees.
  4. Meeting venue. Lunch or dinner meetings at restaurants are growing in popularity, particularly during the first stages of the business relationship.
  5. Conversation. The French have a habit of posing probing questions. Don’t be offended; it is an opportunity to build trust and earn their respect. Be prepared with informed responses.
  6. Negotiations. Be patient and persistent and expect followup questions, but any hard sell or bargaining techniques may be viewed as offensive.

Where to stay in Paris

The city has thousands of hotels catering to the business traveller. One example is the luxurious Hotel Baltimore Paris Champs-Elysées, located near the Eiffel Tower. It offers a champagne bar, a library lounge, meeting spaces and fitness facilities.

The culturally curious may prefer one of the smaller boutique hotels, such as Golden Tulip Little Palace, located a short walk from the Notre-Dame de Paris and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Golden Tulip offers a historic exterior and a modern but comfortable interior. Space is at a premium in Paris, so expect elevators, if any, and showers to be much smaller than in North America.

Explore France

Taking the Paris métro, with its 16 subway lines and more than 300 stations, is a good way to get around the city. Enjoy an afternoon break with a fresh baguette and a soft French cheese in one of the many hidden parks around the busy areas, such as Jardin de la Nouvelle France off the Champs-Elysées.

When meetings are done, you might want to head south to Cassis, about 30 km east of Marseille. This less-visited, picturesque beach town is surrounded by premium vineyards and white limestone cliffs called calanques.

Step back in time to the medieval period with a visit to La Cité de Carcassonne, a centuries-old walled city. On July 14th the city celebrates Bastille Day, a national holiday, with music, theatre performers and a spectacular fireworks show second only to the one in Paris.

France chart