SETTING UP A FOOD BUSINESS IN FRANCE
Make the most of college courses and classes aimed at helping people to set up businesses in France.
Talk over business ideas with neighbours and friends first and test the water at small-scale events to determine if there is scope for the foundations of a business. Look out for fliers and check the internet and Facebook to find out what’s on.
Markets are a great way to test out ideas. In rural areas, it’s usually quite easy to get places, with pitch fees from just €5, or a little more for an electric hook-up. During their first week at their local market in Civray, Debbie and Andy had to turn up at 7am and wait for the placier (market manager) to allocate them a spot. They had different pitches for the first four weeks before being granted a permanent position. In the city of Poitiers, they had to apply in writing to the town hall and show all their paperwork before being allocated a spot in one of the main squares.
Sole traders are automatically taxed under the personal income tax system. Debbie opted to be taxed as an auto-entrepreneur (now called the micro-enterprise régime) which means she pays a lower rate but one that’s based on her total turnover. See impots.gouv.fr for more information.
People operating food businesses in France are expected to hold food hygiene certificates issued after attending a statutory two-day course. All food businesses are subject to registration with, and an inspection by, the local authorities.
Public liability insurance is a must for anybody looking to run a food business. The first step towards getting insurance is to register with a local trade association, such as a chambre de métiers or chambre de commerce as appropriate. “Pois Chic falls between two stools – commerce, which sells things, and métiers, which makes things. We’ve registered with the chambre de métiers,” explains Debbie.
Ensure menus are written in French and consider building a website, in French, so that potential customers can find out more about the business.
Source ingredients locally when possible as this creates goodwill among customers, many of whom will have a special regard for what’s produced on their doorsteps.
Get to know your neighbours and seek their help when writing letters to the local town hall or other administrative bodies.
“Learning to speak French well takes time and dedication,” says Andy. “I think French people are generally very forgiving about your lack of fluency if you are clearly trying, and if they see that you’re passionate about what you’re doing.”