French business culture guide - Learn about France
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French business culture guide - Learn about France

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http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in France. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at......

http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in France. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.

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  • 1.            |  1     businessculture.org Business Culture in France   http://businessculture.org/westerneurope/business-culture-in-france/ Content Template businessculture.org   Content  Germany   This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the view only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  • 2.            |  2     TABLE  OF  CONTENTS   Business  Culture  in  France  ........................................................................................................  4   Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Germany ........................................................................................ 5   General Education ............................................................................................................................... 6   Educational standards .......................................................................................................................... 6   Other Issues such as transportation infrastructure ............................................................................... 6   Cultural taboos ..................................................................................................................................... 8   Business  Communication  ........................................................................................................  10   Face-to-face communication .............................................................................................................. 10   Language Matters............................................................................................................................... 11   Business Relationships ........................................................................................................................ 12   Making contact ................................................................................................................................... 12   Personal Titles .................................................................................................................................... 13   Business  Etiquette  ..................................................................................................................  14   Corporate Social Responsibility ......................................................................................................... 14   Punctuality .......................................................................................................................................... 14   Gift giving ........................................................................................................................................... 15   Business Dress Code ........................................................................................................................... 16   Bribery and corruption ....................................................................................................................... 17   Business  Meeting  Etiquette  ....................................................................................................  18   Importance of Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 18   Business Meeting planning ................................................................................................................. 19   Negotiation process ............................................................................................................................ 19   Meeting protocol ................................................................................................................................ 20   How to Run a Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 21   Follow up letter after meeting with client ........................................................................................... 21   Business meals .................................................................................................................................... 21   Business Meeting tips.......................................................................................................................... 22   businessculture.org   Content  France  
  • 3.            |  3     Internship  and  placement  .......................................................................................................  23   Work experience................................................................................................................................. 23   Internship and Placement advice ....................................................................................................... 23   Social security and European health insurance ................................................................................. 23   Safety .................................................................................................................................................. 23   Do I need a visa? ................................................................................................................................ 24   Internship and placement salary ........................................................................................................ 24   Internship and placement accommodation ........................................................................................ 24   Cost  of  Living  ...........................................................................................................................  25   Money and Banking ........................................................................................................................... 25   Traveling costs .................................................................................................................................... 25   Work-­‐life  Balance   ....................................................................................................................  27   National holidays ................................................................................................................................ 27   Working hours .................................................................................................................................... 28   Working culture .................................................................................................................................. 28   Health insurance ................................................................................................................................ 28   Social  Media  Guide  .................................................................................................................  30   Private individuals/Students .............................................................................................................. 30   SMEs .................................................................................................................................................. 31   Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business ........................................................ 31     businessculture.org   Content  France  
  • 4.            |  4     Business  Culture  in  France     Did you know about business culture in France? Watch this video animation to find out some interesting facts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UVZzydTzeyw France is one of the most modern and highly-developed countries in the world, with one of the largest economies, and is a leader among European nations. While France continues to be proud of its rich history and independence, French leaders are increasingly seeking to tie the future of France to the continued development of the European Union. France has a surface area of over 550,000 km2 (215,000 miles2), including overseas territories. This makes it the largest country in Western Europe. Due to its overseas departments and territories scattered worldwide, France possesses one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the world, covering over 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,000 miles2). It lies on the western edge of the continent of Europe and shares its borders with six neighbouring countries: Belgium and Luxembourg to the north; Germany and Switzerland to the east; Italy to the south-east and Spain to the south-west. The geographical position of France gives the country two salient advantages. On the one hand, partly due to its excellent communications network, it is a crossroads at the heart of the European Union. It is linked to the east by the vast industrial and urban area stretching from the mouth of the Rhine, which forms the border with Germany, and to the plains of the Po River in the north-west. On the other hand it is within easy reach of the industrial centres of the United Kingdom and to the south it forms an integral part of the Mediterranean arc running from Catalonia to central Italy. The French coastline provides access by sea to Northern Europe, America and Africa businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 5.              |  5   via the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, which are amongst the world’s busiest waterways. France has one of the highest populations in the European Union in 2013 it was over 65 million people. This number includes over 4 million foreign residents and immigrants who live in France. French is the national language of France and is highly regarded as a symbol of the culture. The people of France generally prefer to speak and be spoken to, in French. Regional dialects found in certain areas include Alsatian (a German dialect), Flemish, Breton, Basque, Provencal, Catalan, and Corsican; however, these are declining in usage. In addition, the large immigrant population brings numerous other languages, adding to the ethnic diversity of France. About 84% of the French population is Roman Catholic. In addition, 8% are Muslim (mainly North African immigrants), 2% are Protestant, and 1% is Jewish, while 4% are unaffiliated with any religion or church. The church and State have been separate since 1905. France is in the Central European Time (CET) zone. French Summer Time starts from March and ends in October days vary dependent on the year but usually these are the last Sundays of the month. France can be divided into three broad climatic regions. The oceanic region in the west experiences very little temperature change between summer and winter, and has rain yearround. In the north eastern and interior areas, including Paris, the climate is continental, with cool winters, warm summers, and a distinct spring and autumn. Southern France has a Mediterranean climate, with warm dry summers and mild, often wet, winters. ‘Le mistral’, a cold dry northerly wind blows into the southern region often for days at a time in the winter and spring and comes from La Vallée du Rhône near Lyon. Xenophobia:  being  a  foreigner  in  Germany   France is a diverse country, this is due to its large geographic area and regional differences as well as being a consequence of immigration resulting from France’s colonial past. Despite this, attitudes to foreigners vary but in general, the French are not very tolerant of foreigners. For example, wearing of a full head covering veil in public is banned by law whether you are French or not – the principle of French laïcité states that nobody can show their religion publicly. The (official) reason for the banishment of the full head covering is security. France has played an important role for centuries as a cultural centre and is noted for its cosmopolitan, civilised approach to life, combined with a great concern for style, fashion and appearance. France’s distinguished individuality is an important cultural characteristic that is encapsulated by the French passion for uniqueness and freedom of opinion, both in society and in business. One aspect of French culture that has a major influence on business in France is the country’s attention to rules and regulations. The French have a low tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity, which, for those wishing to conduct business there , is significant in that they are reluctant to take risks. France has always played a crucial part in both European and World events. After experiencing two World Wars, the loss of an Empire and numerous political and social upheavals, France has emerged businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 6.            |  6     as a vital component in the European Community with a strong sense of pride and heritage. Today, the French business market boasts a variety of international investors and is an important world supplier of agricultural and industrial products. The country also demonstrates one of the highest rates of economic growth in Europe. However, for those wishing to enter the French business environment, an understanding of the country’s culture is vital. General  Education   Since World War II, the education system has been dramatically overhauled. This was designed to accommodate the increasing numbers of children who carry on developing themselves through study beyond primary school. Consequently, collèges, lycées and higher education institutions have expanded their offerings to accommodate the demand for the development of a highly skilled work force. School education is compulsory in France from 6 to 16 years of age which has resulted in a high adult literacy rate currently standing at 99%. As with other governmental organisations, the French education system is centralised and managed through a number of hierarchies, which are divided into the following stages: • primary education (enseignement primaire); • secondary education (enseignement secondaire); • tertiary or college education (enseignement supérieur) Although private schools are available, primary and secondary education, are dominated by public offerings. On the other hand, tertiary education has a higher number of privateoptions. France is approximately in the middle of international tables, in respect of the proportion of students going to university. The majority of students attend the Grandes Écoles of France. These are private establishments and generally specialise in a single subject area such as business. The selective process involved when students join Grandes Écoles results in moderate class sizes. The selectivity also adds to the perception of prestige which is confirmed by the tradition of the Grandes Écoles producing the majority of France’s scientists and leading executives. Educational  standards   In France, individuals have life-long access to education and training, at school or university, in the case of pupils and students, and in the form of continuing vocational training for anyone already in work. Computer literacy is a given when doing business in France. As in most other E.U countries, technological understanding is taken for granted in business activities. The following sections introduce the importance of education and training and its relevance to doing business in France. Also examined is the area of foreign language competency and important cultural awareness issues. Other  Issues  such  as  transportation  infrastructure   Cultural Issues The French are very proud of their independence and culture. For successful business liaisons, it is important to be aware of their cultural distinctions. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 7.              |  7   The French flag has three vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red. This became the flag during the French Revolution and was made popular by Marquis de Lafayette. It is commonly known in France as the ‘drapeau tricolore’ (Tri-colour Flag). Marianne is a symbol of the French Republic. She is an allegorical figure of liberty and the Republic and first appeared at the time of the French Revolution. Under the Third Republic, statues, and especially busts, of Marianne began to proliferate, particularly in town halls. She was represented in several different modes, depending on whether the aim was to emphasize her revolutionary nature or her “wisdom” and she appears on everyday articles such as postage stamps and coins. Famous French actors, including Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, have been given the title of Marianne. Recent ones include Sophie Marceau, and Laetitia Casta. Businesswomen Gender does not play a major role in French organisations and businesswomen including foreign women on business in France are as well respected as their male counterparts. . However, it should be noted that women are more readily accepted in management positions in the major cities than in the provinces, where some gender inequality can still be found. Females should be aware that flirting is generally considered normal and acceptable behaviour in France, and is seen as harmless entertainment to lighten the day at work and socially. Harmless flirting however, should not be confused with sexual harassment, which is completely unacceptable; for example, paying appreciative comments on a colleague’s dress or perfume choice could be considered sexual harassment in some countries, but in France it is considered a genuine compliment and as such is appreciated. However, as with many other cultural norms, trying to emulate your French co-workers in flirting should only be done if you can do it elegantly, since crossing the line into vulgarity and roughness can get you into trouble. Transportation There are significant differences in lifestyles with respect to transportation, between urbanised regions such as Paris, and smaller towns and rural areas. In Paris, and to a lesser extent in other major cities, many households do not own a car and simply use the efficient public transport. Roads Paris has an excellent system of roads, although driving there is not for the faint-hearted. It is better not to drive anyway, since the public transport is excellent. Taxis cruise the streets in Paris. They can also be found at taxi stands by the train station and in the main squares. Nearly all are radio taxis and can be summoned quickly to your hotel by the concierge. All taxis have meters, and there are surcharges for trips to the airport, Sunday travel, late hours and baggage. Bus & Metro France’s bus system is mostly run by the national railroad, the SNCF, with routes replacing or supplementing the train lines. Municipal buses in Paris are user-friendly, with well-posted routes. Paris’s subway system is called the Metro and is clean, efficient, and reliable. Metros run from 5:30am until 00:30am (after midnight). Rail The train service in France is efficient, punctual, and comfortable and is one of the most popular ways to get around. France’s extensive railway network connects large cities and towns throughout the businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 8.            |  8     country. Smaller towns without train stations are generally linked by a bus service to the nearest station. The French National Railroads’ (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer or SNCF) network of inter-city rail links also provides a frequent express and high-speed train service known as the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse. Operating at commercial speeds of 186mph, the high-speed network also includes European routes, featuring the Eurostar which connects Paris to London in just 2h35 and the Thalys going to Brussels and Amsterdam in 1h30 and 4 hours respectively. For added convenience, Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Lyon Saint-Exupery Airports have stations accommodating high-speed train. Euro-tunnel If you are coming from the United Kingdom, you can use the Euro-tunnel to get to France. Euro tunnel’s car carrying service runs via the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone to Calais/Coquelles. Taking as little as 35 minutes platform to platform, it is a fast and exciting way to reach France and beyond. The service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with up to 4 departures an hour at peak periods. Airports France’s airport network includes 27 airports and serves 130 countries. Its international airports are based in Paris, (Roissy-Charles De Gaulle and Orly) with smaller airports located in Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Lille. France handles 6,200 flights every week. The two Paris airports handle 20% of the total airfreight in the European Union andtheir traffic growth, more than 10% per year, is far greater than most other European airports (2 to 3% per year). 600 enterprises, employing more than 55,000 people (of which 12,000 work in logistics), have based their operations there because of the location in the heart of the Paris Basin, the region of Europe with the highest GDP. Ferries There are many connections to France by sea. Routes operate from ports in Ireland, the U.K and other European countries to ports in Le Havre, Cherbourg, Calais, Boulogne and Dunkerque. A list of the main shipping companies in the U.K is attached. Cultural  taboos   In France there are a number of issues that are considered inappropriate and that you should be aware of in order to avoid insulting your French counterparts and showing disrespect for their views and values: • • • • • • Don’t start a conversation in English, try to speak French even if your language knowledge is limited, you will increase your chances of a positive business meeting. Don’t ask “how much is your salary?” Do not shake hands if you are exchanging ‘la bise’ – the kiss on the cheek, which is done at least twice. Do not address anyone with “tu” – which is the informal term for ‘you’ use “vous” instead. Try not to call or meet anyone during their lunch break 12 till 2pm – unless you have been invited for a lunch meeting. Typical discussion topics do not include your wealth – showing off your wealth is considered bad taste. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 9.            |  9     • • • • • • • • • French organisations are very hierarchical and communications across these lines can be a time consuming process, if you want to speak to the manager, speak to them directly. Chewing gum in public is considered vulgar. Keep your hands out of your pockets when in public. Slapping an open palm over a closed fist is offensive to the French. Snapping fingers is also considered offensive. It is extremely bad manners to ask a French individual about his political leanings or how he voted. You can enquire however about the political system or public opinion about political leaders. Do not criticize Napoleon, since he represents a part of the French spirit. Refrain from using any standard conversation openers such as, ‘What do you do?’ Politeness is of the utmost importance to the French. Any rudeness will not be easily forgotten or forgiven. Understanding and respecting these issues will make a significant contribution towards understanding French culture and building and maintaining strong and solid business relationships. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 10.            |  10     Business  Communication   In business and in the workplace, on the domestic front and in our social lives, we can all benefit from more effective communication skills. Every country has its own way of saying things. Communicating across cultures begins with the basic understanding that one size does not fit all. Simply because you practice certain cultural habits or patterns, does not mean that the rest of the world does. Failing to recognize and adapt to this diversity can mean the difference between a successful transaction and failure. The main criterion for effective communication is to understand the culture of the country you are doing business with. Culture provides a framework for acceptable behaviour and differences in ideals need to be recognised, valued and appreciated before any real communication can take place. Gestures and conversation may vary between your country and France. Topics and gestures you may deem normal and acceptable, may be viewed as taboo subjects . Such errors in communication may have a serious impact on the success of the negotiation process. While France is a culturally aware nation, the French also have high expectations when it comes to understanding their culture – so preparation is a must if you are to create a positive image from the beginning. To become successful as a cross-cultural communicator: • Remember that your own culture provides an acceptable framework for behaviour and belief. • Be aware that your preferences and behaviours are culturally based and not the “correct” or only ones. • Become sensitive to a range of verbal and non-verbal signals. • Have an open mind towards the views of others and their ways of doing things. • Remember there are no universal gestures The following section will provide you with information on both verbal and non-verbal communication in France. A focus on the initial stage of contact is followed by the application of communication skills in French business practice. Face-­‐to-­‐face  communication   First impressions are very important to the French, and may have a strong impact on the outcome of your business relationship. There are a number of verbal and non-verbal communication issues you should consider when doing business in France: Verbal Communication: • You will find that conversations often develop into spirited debates. Therefore, give opinions only on subjects that you are knowledgeable about, otherwise you might be expected to elaborate and defend your views. • Studying French history, politics, and other aspects of the culture will be an advantage for you in conversation with the French. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 11.            |  11     • Be prepared to answer questions about your own country, especially regarding its history and political matters. There is rarely a moment of silence, except when the topic under discussion has been exhausted, and nothing new has been introduced. • Welcome topics of conversation include: food/praising French cuisine, art, music, and philosophy, sports and current events/history of France (but only if you know what you’re talking about especially with regard to Napoleon) – French people love talking about food so this should be an easy subject if you have to choose one. Non-Verbal Communication: • Because of their Latin background, the French, not unlike the Italians, express themselves with more gestures and more emphasis than for example the Irish or British. • Give business cards to the receptionist or secretary upon arrival at an office and to each person you meet subsequently. • Print cards in English or French, preferably both. • Include your academic degree and/or title, as the French place great importance on these. Communicating across cultures takes sensitivity and awareness. By studying other cultures, we become more aware and are able to adapt in our efforts to communicate. Regarding tips for integrating oneself into the culture, and effecting communication, a twist on the old cliché, “when in France, do as the French do,” is a good rule of thumb, in order to demonstrate a respect for the culture. When these attempts are accompanied by a genuine interest to learn and a considerable amount of humility, a foreign business counterpart will impress his French hosts as a considerate individual. He/she will be forgiven the occasional inevitable faux pas. Language  Matters   French is the only official language in France. However, there are also several regional languages spoken, mostly by elderly residents. English is widely taught in schools because of its importance in international trade as a “global language”. Consequently, in France most of your counterparts will be able to understand you if you speak English, especially if they are of the younger generation. As political and economic issues become increasingly international in scope, there is a growing need for Europeans to be competent in foreign languages. A command of French can be an asset to a career in business or international affairs. The business person who can do business with a foreign customer in his or her own language will have an edge. Large and small companies are recognising this as the global market becomes more competitive. A basic competence in French, combined with training in business may open opportunities in France to a variety of small to medium sized enterprises that are active in the European Union Despite their knowledge of and competence in the English language, the French consider their use of French as a sign of respect for their culture. Therefore, to make your business negotiations easier you should at least try to use some French when dealing with French counterparts. It is helpful at your first meeting with a French-speaking individual, to apologise if you cannot speak French fluently. This creates respect for the French culture and reduces any stigma about potential ignorance. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 12.              |  12   Many French speakers consider themselves and their language as being under attack by the wide use of international English, therefore if you are able to show willing, it is more important than being a fluent speaker. For example, if you cannot speak French, preface what you are saying whenever possible with: ‘Excusez-moi, s’il vous plait, de vous deranger, mais je ne parle pas bien francais’ (‘Please excuse me for troubling you, but I do not speak French very well’). This introduction is likely to break the ice and help you to get a response. Do not see it as offensive if people help you by correcting your language – they are being courteous. If your counterpart’s voice rises to a high pitch during discussions, do not be alarmed since the French do like to express their interest in the subject areas being discussed by raising their voice. Business  Relationships   There exists a strong, vertical hierarchy in French business culture. French bosses generally favour a dictatorial and authoritative leadership style. However, it is essential that you work successfully with all levels of the business organisation, despite the clear hierarchical structure. This said, only the most senior individuals can make the final decisions in business. The French have an inherent sense of privacy and there is a definite distinction between business and personal life. Respecting this privacy is particularly important when working in France. In accordance with French business culture, relationships must be formed first, before business can begin. Business correspondence in France is very impersonal in nature. Letters will start with a prefix alone (i.e., Monsieur) or with the prefix followed by a title (i.e., Monsieur le Ministre). Closing salutations will be replaced by an entire paragraph, which translated into English couldread, “I beseech you, sir, to accept the assurance of my most distinguished sentiments”. In order to avoid blunders, even French secretaries need specific training in how to address individuals, depending on their rank and the nature of the message. Overall, the French respect a cautious, incremental approach to business relationships. This pervades all areas of their business culture, from correspondence to dress. It is advisable to be well prepared, with all documents translated and presented with the necessary supporting materials. If one is prepared to answer all questions in an articulate and logical manner, the French will be impressed by the value and quality of the company’s product or service – thus ensuring the development of a positive relationship. Making  contact   The French in general are typically conservative when it comes to body language. However, despite the formality of French business culture, people tend to have smaller personal space and are happy to stand within arms length when speaking to one another. The personal space also varies between those living in the country (preferring more distance) to those in larger cities (happy with smaller distances) who tend to use the Metro and crowded places more often. Moreover, do not be alarmed if your counterpart touches your shoulder or pats you on the arm, since this is commonplace and usually within the bounds of French business etiquette. In France men tend to stand up, or at least indicate a move to do so, whenever a superior in terms of rank makes an entrance. This is a sign of respect and an opportunity to show your good posture, which is used as a sign of good upbringing and education. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 13.              |  13   Handshakes are expected as a form of greeting, however a more friendly greeting practice is kissing on the cheeks. When “air kissing” your cheeks can touch but not your lips – one kiss on each cheek – (across genders) starting with a kiss to your left first and then one to your right. The practice of kissing is also used as a greeting by colleagues at work on a daily basis. The kissing practice is not extended to unfamiliar people and if you are meeting for the first time, you should wait until your female counterparts have initiated the move – this is just a warm greeting and should not be interpreted as anything more than that. Eye contact is important to show your trustworthiness and interest in the meeting, however, constant eye contact such as staring is considered inappropriate, especially during a first business meeting. Smiling has no impact in communicating a greeting or as a sign of agreement. Expressive use of hands to communicate should be kept to a minimum in most conversations. As business people tend to be formal and conservative, business relationships are orderly and professional. Keep the hierarchy in mind and this will help you maintain proper distance and contact. Personal  Titles   The French are a formal nation and tend to make extensive use of titles, especially in corporate life. Some individuals have family names which include a “de” or “d’” prefix, this is usually an indication of nobility. The same applies to academic titles and degrees, which are very important, and you are expected to use them in all conversations. The French language is highly regarded as a symbol of the culture and the use of it is an indication of respect for it. When developing a business relationship, it is important for the visitor to make an effort to speak French and to address their counterparts by title and in French. The use of last name terms and relevant titles must be made until you have been specifically invited to use first name terms. The use of first name terms is mainly reserved for close friends and family, but colleagues with the same level of responsibility generally use first names in private, but titles and last name terms in public. However, this practice is less frequent when there is an age gap or a considerable disparity in the status of counterparts and in these cases formal terms are used at all times. Where names and titles are unknown you should use ‘Monsieur’ or ‘Madame’. When you are addressing people as Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle, do not use their surname. Madame is a basic title of courtesy used for all adult women, married or single, over 18 years of age (except for waitresses, who are addressed as Mademoiselle). The word Mademoiselle cannot be used in formal administrative paperwork anymore. ‘Monsieur’ is the courtesy title for men. The order of first name and last name is also particular – the French tend to use the last name first and first name second. This can cause some misunderstandings since both could sound as if they are first names. For example “Pierre Paul” or “Jason Andrew”. If unsure, it is best to double check and look at their business card or signature on the documents you might have from their correspondence. There are also instances where, the last name could be substituted by the person’s official title (e.g., Monsieur le President). The use of the familiar “tu” or “less formal you” should be reserved for small children. The “vous” or “formal you” is obligatory in business culture. You may be invited to use ‘tu’ but until you are it is safer to use “vous” so as not to cause offence. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 14.            |  14     Business  Etiquette     Attitudes and values are the foundation of every country’s culture, and are the building bricks for developing business culture. Cultural influences, communities. attitudes and behaviour vary within and across nations and within and across ethnicities, and are strongly embedded in Business executives who hope to profit from their travels to France should learn about the history, culture, and customs of the areas that they wish to visit. Flexibility and cultural adaptation should be the guiding principles for doing business in this country. Business manners and methods, religious customs, the importance of family are all covered in the following sections. Some of the cultural distinctions that businesspeople most often face include differences in business styles, attitudes towards the development of business relationships, attitudes toward punctuality, negotiating styles, gift-giving customs, greetings, significance of gestures, meanings of colours and numbers, and customs regarding titles. The following headings give an insight into the values, attitudes and culture of the French. Corporate  Social  Responsibility   France’s environmental outlook appears positive, as successive French governments have demonstrated their commitment to protecting the environment, and future governments are expected to continue this trend. France is also a leader in adopting the European Commission’s ‘green paper’ on corporate social responsibility, which requires listed companies to publish information in relation to the environmental and the social impact of their activities, in their annual reports. Thus, companies in France must report on their use of water and natural resources, their emissions of greenhouse gases and energy consumption, and what efforts they have undertaken to reduce environmental risks and to educate their employees about environmental management. • France’s commitment to the use of nuclear power has allowed the country to keep a lid on its carbon emissions, since nuclear power emits no carbon or other greenhouse gases. France’s preference for nuclear-generated electricity over thermal (oil-, natural gas-, and coal-fired power plants) power, has allowed it to maintain relatively low levels of both energy and carbon intensity. • Despite its nuclear power programme, France still suffers from air pollution, especially in Paris and other major cities. Despite the country’s reduction in its dependence on oil imports, France has been the unfortunate victim of several major oil tanker spills, with disastrous consequences for the country’s tourism and fishing industries along the Atlantic coast. • Other environmental issues in France include some forest damage from acid rain. Major forest damage also occurred as a result of severe windstorms in December 1999. One of the country’s biggest concerns is water pollution from urban waste and agricultural runoff. Punctuality   In France it is vital to ensure that you make appointments for both business and social occasions. It is not acceptable in France to ‘drop in’ on someone unannounced and such conduct will be taken as an act of rudeness, whatever the occasion. While you should strive to be punctual, you will not be considered to be late, should you arrive ten minutes after the scheduled time. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 15.            |  15     Punctuality is treated quite casually in France, although there are some regional differences, the further South you go the more casual the approach to time is. The French themselves have a very relaxed attitude when attending appointments themselves, so do not be surprised to find your French colleague arriving fairly late. The French consider this a prerogative, so do not expect any apologiesbut as ever it will depend who you are dealing with. However, staying late at the office is common, especially for individuals in more senior positions. For social events, being on time is more important, especially if your hosts have cooked a meal. Gift  giving   Gift-giving among business associates is not common practice in France. To express appreciation to a French business contact, it may be better to host a special event or dinner than to give a business gift. Gifts are however expected at social events, especially to thank the host/ess of private dinner parties. When Invited to Dinner • If you are invited to a French home, consider it a rare honour. Bring flowers, quality chocolates or liqueur for the host, and present your gift before the entertaining proceeds. • Flowers should be sent in advance on the day of the dinner (popular in Paris) so that the hostess has time to arrange them and is not faced with this task when she is busy with a meal, or else unwrap them before presenting them to your hostess. Otherwise, present a gift on arrival – this will probably not be unwrapped immediately (unless no other guests are present or expected). • In accordance with the old European tradition, a bouquet should have an odd number of flowers, but never seven or thirteen. On Labour Day (May 1) the French give lily-of-the-valley. Red roses are not reserved for lovers in France, but do imply a familiarity that business associates are unlikely to achieve. Carnations are associated with bad luck or bad will. Chrysanthemums are used for funerals, and are placed on graves on All Saints Day (November 1). • Do not take a gift of wine, since the host usually prefers to make the evening’s selection themselves – this will have been carefully thought out to complement the food. The only possible exceptions to this would be a special French dessert wine or high-quality liqueur. Other exceptions if you really want to bring a bottle of wine would be one from your own country or a bottle of Champagne. • If you have been a guest at a dinner party or similar social gathering in a home, ensure that you send a thank-you note to your hosts the next day. Preferably, your note should be handwritten and delivered by La Poste. Sending flowers or a basket of fruit is another thoughtful gesture appreciated by the French. Take Note • Be aware that displays of warmth and generosity between business associates are not the norm in French business culture. Giving presents is acceptable here, but exercise discretion. Business gifts are usually not exchanged at the first meeting. • Give a good quality gift or none at all • Gifts are expected for social events, especially as a thank-you after a dinner party. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 16.            |  16     • Give candy, macaroons, cakes and flowers. A gift should be of high quality and beautifully wrapped. • Esoteric books and music are often valued as gifts. Make sure, however, that you are reasonably acquainted with the recipient’s interests and tastes before making this kind of gift purchase. • Good gift selections can also include coffee table books about your home country, or anything that reflects the interests of your hosts and is representative of your country. • Do not offer gifts with your company logo stamped on them (the French consider this vulgar). • French business etiquette dictates that you do not include your business card with a gift. • Never send a gift for a French colleague to his/her home unless it is related to a social event. • Card giving at holidays is appropriate and appreciated. Thanking business partners for the previous year’s business and wishing them a prosperous year to come is a sentiment that will be received with gratitude. The practice in France is to send New Year’s greetings and this can occur during the whole month of January but not later. Business  Dress  Code   As you would expect, the nation that created ‘haute couture’ puts a premium on style. Fashion and appearance are much more important in France than in most other countries in the world. Even lowpaid, entry-level executives buy the best clothes they can afford. Generally, dress tends to be on the formal side for both men and women, whether in business or social situations. As the French will perceive the way you dress as being a reflection of your social status and relative success, do your best to make clothing choices that are tasteful and stylish. High quality and conservative suits and accessories are recommended. Men should wear dark suits, particularly during the winter and when visiting the north. You’ll notice that men’s suits made in France are cut differently. In France, executives usually do not loosen their ties or take off their jackets while at the office, or in restaurants. Never be the first to shed your jacket. As blue shirts are worn by raw French military recruits, you may be labelled ‘Un bleu’, the French version of a ‘greenhorn’ if you choose blue for your shirt. Frenchwomen are particularly fashion conscious in both their social and business wear, and are famous for their restrained, feminine chic. Visitors are advised to dress simply and with elegance. A well-tailored business suit or dress is appropriate and good shoes are a must. Careful accessorising r (even of simple outfits), is also widely seen in France. French women are also more careful with makeup than many of their European counterparts and place a huge emphasis on skin care and maintaining a slender figure. When you receive an invitation stating “informal” dress, don’t assume you’ll be welcome in a t-shirt and jeans. For a social gathering, informal usually means tastefully coordinated clothes, sometimes including a jacket and tie for men. An invitation stating “formal” dress usually means formal evening wear, which is very dressy and involves a tuxedo for men and evening dress for women. On the street, jeans and sneakers can be acceptable leisurewear, although this kind of clothing is often reserved for the gym or the beach. However, increasingly and dependent on the industry, casual Fridays are becoming common in offices where you can wear jeans and even sneakers sometimes. These exceptions to formal attire however are not applicable for business meetings. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 17.              |  17   Bribery  and  corruption   France is ranked in the top 25 countries (on the Corruption Perception Index of government organisations) in the world for being perceived as least corrupt compared to 176 other countries. There are laws, regulations and penalties to reduce and prevent corruption in France. As a consequence, the French legal system has witnessed numerous investigations and successful convictions of corrupt public officials and businessmen. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention has been adopted in France and enforced since the year 2000. This was done through amendments to the Criminal code, which includes article 435-3 which incriminates the offer or promise of a bribe. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 18.              |  18   Business  Meeting  Etiquette     Meetings come in a variety of forms, and are more important than ever in business today. There are the everyday office meetings, board meetings, and seminars. Meetings can now be face-to-face, by teleconference, video-conference, or online via the Internet. Meetings are a common form of corporate life in France. As you will be travelling to and from a foreign country, it is essential that you recognise the value of planning for a meeting, according to the principles of proper etiquette. Deciding on the contents of the meeting and the appropriate negotiation strategies should be based on the cultural habits and customs of the country. The appropriate steps should be taken in preparing an agenda and it is advisable to circulate agendas in advance to ensure everyone’s preparedness. Always double check that the facilities you require for the business meeting are available and ready to use. Presentations should be wellprepared, comprehensive, clear, well-written, informative and presented in a formal, rational, professional manner – always appealing to the intellect of the French. The following sections deal with the various stages of a business meeting and examine the issues of cultural sensitivity in this area. Importance  of  Business  Meeting   As with any other international business behaviour, respect for the national business culture will improve your chances of achieving your business objectives in France. This starts with the way you conduct your business meetings – appointments should be arranged a couple of weeks in advance and confirmed before their scheduled day as a gesture of good business etiquette. Once you arrive in your French counterpart’s office it is good practice to give your business card to their secretary so that they can log your arrival. Your business cards should ideally be printed in both English and French. Attention to detail is generally much appreciated in France and having a dual language business card is a great opportunity for you to show your attention to detail too. Once you have exchanged business cards with your counterpart, you should examine their card carefully, before you put it away. If you are considering printing your business cards in French, make sure that you state a) your position within your organisation in French and b) your university degree, for example if it is at masters or doctoral level. Usually, the initial minutes of a French business meeting are used to reaffirm the main purpose of the meeting and to deal with any questions before the main meeting commences. Make sure that you state your business intentions directly and clearly since meetings follow a rigid format with a detailed agenda. During your first business meeting, try to remain respectful and welcoming, bearing in mind that your French counterparts need time to build trust in you and your organisation. The French do have a habit of direct and probing questions, so don’t be offended and offer your plans for a carefully considered proposal – remember they like attention to detail. Be prepared to expand on the details of your proposal. It might seem as if the business discussion becomes an intellectual exercise, this is because the French like a full understanding of the logic behind it. Since they prefer to concentrate on the long-term objectives, make sure you have considered these in your proposal. The French will judge you on your ability to demonstrate your intellectual faculties and this would usually mean discussing polar views and placing you in the middle of a rigorous debate. If you are able businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 19.              |  19   to reason and make yourself clear you will earn respect from your business partners. If you have differences don’t let it worry you, since as long as you can justify your views this will help your counterparts to see that you are well briefed and prepared as well as serious about your intentions. Although the French are happy to be convinced of new ideas as a consequence of debate, they are not likely to accept anything that deviates from their cultural norms. As mentioned in other sections of this guide, it is strongly recommended that you learn basic French phrases and use them whenever possible in your meetings. Your French language efforts will be much appreciated and remembered however, if you can’t speak French it is advisable to confirm if your counterparts are fluent in your language or in English to facilitate your communications and if necessary consider using an interpreter. Business  Meeting  planning   When scheduling your meetings, remember that with five weeks of vacation to which they are entitled by law, many French employees take several weeks off in the summer. Some companies even close operations for the entire month of August. With the mandatory reduction of the working week to 35 hours, executives receive additional vacation time in lieu of shorter working weeks (14 to 16 extra days every year). This results in a lot of offices being practically deserted during Christmas and Easter school closings. You will need to take this into account when planning your business trips to France. The best time to schedule meetings is considered to be in the late morning or mid-afternoon – usually 11:00 am or 3:30 pm. Ensure that you make appointments for both business and social occasions, with at least 2 weeks notice. French business people like to have their social itineraries planned as well as their business ones. Appointments may be made in writing or by telephone and, depending upon the position of the person you are meeting, are often handled by a secretary. While you should strive to be punctual, you won’t be considered late if you arrive ten minutes after the scheduled time. Be careful and don’t take unnecessary risks! If you expect to be delayed further, telephone immediately and offer an explanation. It is important to note that in France, meetings are held to discuss issues, not to make decisions. The French view formal surroundings as appropriate for meetings and don’t hold meetings in bars or cafes. Lunch/Dinner meetings however are growing in France, particularly during the initial phase of the business relationship. When the meeting includes female business personnel, they will be treated with special respect by men, both in business and social situations, and this is meant to be perceived as an honour. Negotiation  process   When conducting business negotiations with your French counterparts you need to be aware that you are very likely to come across bureaucratic and centralised decision-making. This is not to say that radical change does not happen but it takes time since traditions are always given precedence. This importance of tradition is evident in French business protocol, which adheres to persistent formality in the negotiation stages. You cannot change the serious approach that your French counterparts will take and you are advised not to attempt to . In your negotiations, you have to focus on the subject matter of the deal you are discussing and at no point should you bring in other matters businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 20.              |  20   such as family as this will, if anything, reduce your chances of getting what you want and also possibly offend your negotiation partners. During business negotiations, be prepared to answer direct and detailed questions. Your persistence and tenacity are likely to be rewarded since the longer the negotiations continue the higher are your chances of success, since agreements usually take a long time to reach. Because your negotiation partners will want to be comfortable that all risks have been identified and managed or mitigated, it might appear to you that they are making things more complicated than necessary. A common sign that you have reached a point where your counterparts will not change their position is when they begin repeating their viewpoints. The main way to persuade your counterparts to change that viewpoint is through the use of logical reasoning. Any hard sell techniques or hard bargaining are likely to cause offence and reduce your chances of getting a deal altogether. Because of the hierarchical structure of organisations in France, once a decision has been reached between those in the negotiation process, there is a high likelihood that your partners will have to go through a similar internal process and therefore even if you have signed a contract, there is a chance that they will come back to re-negotiate it as a result of internal negotiations. This is another reason why you should always try and seek out the top decision maker in the organisation to speed up your negotiations and reduce discussions with intermediaries. However, if you are facing intermediaries treat them with same respect, even though you might be aware that they are not able to finalise the decision on their own. They can help you to reach a positive outcome, but if you offend them this will also be reported and your chances of successful negotiations will be reduced. When negotiating be upfront about your deadlines and make sure that your counterparts are reminded of them if they are critical for you, otherwise these will generally be regarded as flexible dates. Meeting  protocol   The shaking of hands when greeting and departing is a French custom in business etiquette. The initiation of the handshake should be left to the highest-ranking individual unless you are dealing with a woman, in which case the initiative is left up to her. Your handshake should be measured and not so overly firm that it is considered bad mannered. When a superior or a visitor enters a room, you should stand up or make a token move as if you are about to stand, which will be sufficient. The use of first names can be interpreted as annoying and disrespectful to the French. Only use first name terms when you have been invited to do so and don’t expect that this will actually happen at all. When you are addressing people for the first time, make sure that you use their family name, preceded by a French honorific such as Monsieur for Gentleman or Madame for Ladies. It is considered polite to say, “Bonjour” when entering a place of business. Similarly, when exiting, politeness requires an, “Au revoir.” This practice is also followed when entering and exiting elevators. La bise (or the kiss), is a common greeting once there is an established business relationship between women and men. Usually, it is a kiss, or more correctly an “air kiss” on two cheeks, first on the left side (for the other party), and then the right. When family and close friends greet one another, they often kiss on both cheeks. When working with French counterparts at all times prioritise formality and good manners. These qualities are given high priority in particular in business relationships. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 21.              |  21   How  to  Run  a  Business  Meeting   Business organisations in France are highly organised and well structured. Consequently, rules and administrative practices are favoured over effectiveness or flexibility, and the administration of a meeting should be taken very seriously. One of the most important factors is careful planning and preparation, ensuring that all objectives and strategies have been set out and an agenda has been confirmed. In France, meeting agendas tend to be structured and fairly inflexible. It is anticipated that all attendees contribute to the discussion so it is important for you to be alert and prepared to share your views. Written communication of a meeting should be made both in English and in formal French that is grammatically correct. An elegant style will be appreciated. The way a letter is written can impact on how a person is received, so it is vital to pay close attention to detail since a high importance will be placed on the accuracy of the letter. Ensure that all required attendees are aware of the meeting time and destination and that they have confirmed their attendance. If you are responsible for the meeting, ensure that the location is convenient for all parties, and that the meeting room facilities are of the highest standard. As meetings will generally be conducted in French, interpreters are an important element where there are language barriers, and should be organised a number of weeks in advance prior to the meeting. All presentation material should if possible be bilingual unless you have agreed a common language such as English. If possible also prepare material in French or with some French references, as your French counterparts will be impressed with your attention to detail. Follow  up  letter  after  meeting  with  client   Once a meeting has concluded with your French counterparts, then normal meeting procedures should apply. Prepare and distribute minutes within 24 hours. Quick action on this reinforces the importance of the meeting with the French and also reduces errors in memory. Follow up on any delegated decisions and see that all members understand and carry out their responsibilities. Place unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting. A number of days after the meeting, your French colleagues will appreciate a follow-up phone call. This personal touch and effort is important in French business practice. As French businesspeople are very formal, socialising after meetings will not occur until firm working relationships have been established. While a degree of formality will continue to exist within the business relationship, an effort to build an understanding of their language and culture will improve relationships significantly. Business  meals   Business meals are common practice and usually conducted in restaurants rather than cafes since the latter tend to be too noisy. Because of their love of food, French business people do like to concentrate on a discussion of the dishes during your meal. If you need to discuss business matters, wait until the desert is served or unless invited by your counterpart to do so. The earlier courses are usually used to discuss your food and wine preferences. Because of the long term approach in business relationship building, meal times are used to develop a more personal relationship and discover shared interests in businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 22.            |  22     food and wine. Food is very important in France and is taken very seriously, thus long meals are customary, and offer great opportunities to conduct a more open and less formal business discussion. Be aware when ordering your meal that portion sizes tend to be smaller than in other European countries, so you would need to have several courses – a starter, main and a desert are common practice. The French are very particular about their food and high quality is more important that quantity. Eating etiquette and table manners are also highly important – “bon appétit” is a good phrase to use before starting to eat since this will illustrate your respect for the French culture. If you dining in a party, it is considered impolite to leave until the last person has finished their final course. Generally, lunchtime is from 12:30 or 13:00 and can last until 15:00. Dinners are usually from 20:30 to 23:00. Some restaurants close between lunch and dinner service so you have to phone in advance and confirm their opening times and reserve a table. Most restaurants will have reservations and a waiting list, so it is important to reserve a table; if you are looking for last minute bookings, consider a brasserie or a hotel where reservations are not as important. The person who extends the invitation for a meal is also expected to pay for all. Business lunches are not considered appropriate for spouses, but they are welcome to attend business dinners. Status in an organisation is also important when it comes to socialising and senior managers will only go out for a meal with their equivalents. The seating arrangements are also important with the most senior person being seated at the head of the table and the second most senior person to their left and third most senior to their right. Guests of honour are seated either to the right of the host if they are female or to the left of the hostess if they are male. Business  Meeting  tips   When meeting and discussing business with your French counterparts try to lower your voice and generally behave in a more formal way. Traditions, formality and attention to detail are highly valued and if in doubt take clues from your counterparts on how to behave. Business meetings and interactions should stay focused on business and any discussions which are off topic that could infringe on personal privacy can be offensive Common topics which you should therefore avoid unless invited to discuss these by your counterparts are: salary, age, their children and family. On the other hand, topics that show your appreciation of French culture, are welcome including: language, food, wine, politics and French history. Compliments are welcomed, however, unlike in other European countries such as the UK where they are acknowledged with a “thank you”, the French tend to deny them to show their humility. Humour can easily be misinterpreted depending on the situation and the French tend to be amused by intellectual jokes, irony and situations from real life. The main emergency telephone numbers are: • Police: 17 • Fire: 18 • Ambulance: 15 • SOS Help (English-language crisis line) Tel.: 01 46 21 46 46 businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 23.              |  23   Internship  and  placement     Work  experience   Student placements or “stage” is considered essential in France and many students have to take one or two different types of work placements during their study years. The duration of these internships varies, but commonly these are 2 to 6 months. It is not uncommon to do an internship during university studies in the third or fourth years but increasingly graduates are taking on work experience jobs once they have finished studying. The internship can be seen as a prolonged “job interview” where the prospects of getting hired after this period are high. French is the language that you have to speak – unless you are applying to teach your language in a school where this might not be as critical. However, basic written and spoken French language skills are still necessary. Despite this many companies are open to international placements but expect you to improve your language skills – which might be a good reason to have a placement in France in the first place. To get a placement in the France you need to apply in the same way you would for a job, which means you need to have a CV and an application letter. Increasingly, organisations in France accept applications electronically via their website forms or by e-mail. Your placement application should be handed in well in advance – ideally 5 to 3 months. In particular, if you are coming from a foreign country there might be restrictions on you taking a paid work placement in France. Several students therefore take volunteering opportunities to benefit from work experience. Internship  and  Placement  advice   There are many practical issues relating to international placements that need to be taken care of either by the trainee or the host company. It is important to allow enough time for all the arrangements and the necessary formalities. In most cases your training organisation, educational institute (for example Universities etc) and host organisations will be able to help with some of these formalities. Social  security  and  European  health  insurance   Health insurance is a legal requirement for any resident in France. If you are planning to work in France it is important that you investigate your status and ability to get your health insured. The French health system is consistently rated as one of the most advanced in the western world in terms of value for money and quality of service. Several options exist such as Couverture Maladie Universelle, where your insurance contributions are deducted from your monthly salary. Safety   businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 24.              |  24   France is generally a safe place with a low crime rate as is the case with neighbouring European countries. International acts of terrorism do occur although not often due to the extensive counter measures and extensive visible as well as covert police presence. However, as is the case in other countries street crime occurs, including pickpocketing and theft from unattended vehicles especially in larger cities such as Paris. With the increasing reliance on online transactions, cyber crimes are on the rise and are counteracted with specialist security measures implemented by the Government. General precautions and remaining vigilant are always advised. The overall recorded crimes are high which suggests a strong police force where individuals trust and rely on them to help. Emergency number: 112 Do  I  need  a  visa?   Depending on the country you are coming from, you might need to get a Visa before you can work in France. Immigration is a major political issue here, as in other economically established European nations, and this means that there are frequent adjustments to Visa requirements. The working visa is most difficult to obtain for those coming from outside of the European Union, so be prepared to face French Red Tape and a long, patience-testing process. Internship  and  placement  salary   As in other countries, internships – stage – in France can be paid or unpaid. This will vary based on your location and the actual job you are performing. It is not uncommon to have nominal payments which will be just enough to pay your rent but in other cases you may receive almost a full salary. Stage is highly regulated and legislation on the need for remuneration and the duration of an official stage are regularly updated. This is critical if you are thinking of taking a placement in Paris, which is the one of most expensive cities in France – consider the costs of food, transport and housing. Internship  and  placement  accommodation   Relocating for your placement in France also means finding your own accommodation, although there are exceptions. In certain industries as is the case in other countries, for example in hospitality and tourism (and France has one of the largest tourism industries in the world) accommodation and sometimes food are provided to all staff on the premises, which can reduce your outgoings considerably. However, if you have to find your own accommodation, furnished apartments and student accommodation rooms are available. Rent is normally paid on a monthly basis and a deposit (approximately three months rent in advance) will have to be paid prior to you taking possession of the accommodation. Given that most placements are short term you might find furnished apartments most appropriate. Most places have a minimum rental period for example around three months. Again, as with other capital European cities, beware of Paris and its high prices, which need to be weighed against lower prices in the suburbs but with long and expensive commutes. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 25.            |  25     Cost  of  Living     Usually, students should be able to cover their living costs independently. Cost comparisons can easily be made with other EU countries because of the common currency. Relative to the Scandinavian countries, the cost of living in France is low. However, as with everywhere, the cost of living depends on what you do and where you live in France. The largest expense is usually the rent, which can vary from as little as €300 per month in some places such as Limousine to almost six times that in some places in Paris & Ile de France. Money  and  Banking   Payments in France are made, using smaller denominations of bank notes (cash) or debit and credit cards. Whilst larger cities will be able to accommodate credit card payments, if you are planning to visit smaller villages you are advised to have cash with you since some places might have a cash only payment option. Almost all daily money transfers are possible and are usually done through online banking, for example payments of your salary, accommodation, telephone, and credit cards bills. The Euro “€” (although you can still see the equivalent amount in Francs on some statements) is the accepted currency when paying cash in France. Some stores in larger cities also accept other international currencies, however, you might find that the exchange rate will be less favourable compared to payment in Euros. If you are planning to stay in France for longer periods (e.g. 4 months or more), you are advised to open a local bank account. Travellers Cheques are not recommended since cashing them is becoming more difficult. The French Government is active in supporting innovation and business growth through a number of grant initiatives, for example schemes such as start-up loans – “Prêt à la Création d’Entreprise (PCE)”. More information about how to apply for funding can be accessed from the ADIE business support organisation. Major Banks in France include: • Banque Directe • Banque Populaire Group • BNP Paribas • Groupe BPCE • BRED • Crédit Agricole S.A. (CASA) • Crédit Mutuel – CIC Group • Societe Generale Traveling  costs   Unless your employer has stipulated otherwise, travelling costs to and from an interview are usually paid by the candidate themselves. It is always best to clarify the arrangements with the businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 26.              |  26   organisation you are planning to work for. If your travel costs can be reimbursed you would have to produce original receipts. If you are a student and have to travel during your placement year on the train or other public transport – most have special student rates so proof of your student status is helpful in reducing travel costs. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 27.            |  27     Work-­‐life  Balance     A key issue for many workers in France is flexible working time, in order to achieve a work-life balance. Negotiating a work/life balance can enable parents to reconcile their work with their family life and, women in particular, to participate in the labour market. It can also allow workers to take leave to participate in education or training or to take up an interest, hobby or leisure pursuit. This means that workers can reorganise their working lives and working hours around shorter days, weeks, months, or even years. A law to reduce the statutory working week in France from 39 hours to 35 hours was introduced in 2000, for companies with more than 20 employees and, in 2002, for companies with 20 employees or fewer. Studies by the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggest that France is below the OECD average when it comes to hours worked and consequently French employees have above average leisure time on an average day. Approximately 15 hours per day are dedicated to personal care and leisure (eating, sleeping, etc). With regard to a reduction in working time, one of the recommendations from France’s National Economic Planning Agency, was that working time should be in line with other demands on time, generated by people’s social and private lives. In this respect, the 35-hour working week appears to be having an impact. An evaluation report submitted by the government shows that the reduction in working time has generally affected employees positively, in terms of both their work and home lives. National  holidays   There are 11(or 13 in some provinces) national holidays in France. Most offices, businesses and shops in France will close for a Public Holiday however the smaller supermarkets in many towns will open for a few hours in the morning. There following are fixed (same every year) Public Holidays in France. • 1st January – New Year Day • 1st May – Labour days • 8th May – Victory day • 14th July – Bastille Day • 15th August each year – Assumption Day • 1st November each year – All Saints Day • 11th November – Armistice Day • 25th December – Christmas Day • 26th December – Boxing Day (only in the Moselle, the Bas-Rhin and the Haut-Rhin) The following are changeable Public Holidays in France: Good Friday (Easter Friday) and Easter Monday are usually around March –April time, Ascension Day (40 days after Easter Sunday, always on a Thursday – May time); Pentacost/Whit Sunday (7th Sunday after Easter – May time); Monday businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 28.              |  28   following Pentacost/Whit Monday – May time. During may, there is a holiday nearly every week therefore you will need to check in advance. Working  hours   Working hours are generally Monday to Friday from 8am or 9am to 12:00/12:30 and then from 14:00/14:30 to 18:00. However, as always, it depends where the organisation is located, for example the long lunch break is unusual in Paris and other bigger cities. As mentioned previously in this guide, because of employment legislation the working of overtime is very rare. Retail shops tend to be open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 20:00. Several larger stores have longer opening hours on Thursdays for example Galeries Lafayette in Paris tend to open from 9:30 to 21:00 on Thursdays but they close one hour earlier on other days. On Sundays shops are closed and in smaller cities this might also apply to Saturdays. Banks tend to follow a similar working pattern and are closed on Sundays. On Saturdays they tend to have shorter opening hours starting later and closing earlier. Working  culture   The working culture in France is guided by principles of hierarchy, traditions and attention to detail. As such, logical reasoning and high levels of analysis are used to guide the culture, which can be seen as slow and procedural. Work Legislation France as is the case in many other countries has seen its working culture evolve and despite the respect for traditions, change does happen in accommodating the needs of an industrial economy. A landmark piece of legislation was introduced in 1998 to reduce working hours to 35 per week. One of the consequences of this has been higher employment rates and increased job sharing. Working Hours Despite the shorter weekly working times, the hours that people tend to spend at work are longer when compared to other European countries. However, the time spent working during a day does tend to be broken up with a generous lunch break that can last 2 hours. Many smaller businesses in particular in rural areas tend to close for lunch and employees spend this time with their families. Overtime is also less common in French working culture than in other countries. For example, taking work home and doing it over the weekend is not common practice, but perhaps senior managers might be more likely to do so than ordinary employees. Health  insurance   France’s health and social security system covers all employees. Payments by employers discharge all health, retirement and unemployment insurance obligations. In principle, the French health cover and social security system applies to expatriates, but international agreements and EU regulations provide for exemptions. Take an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) with you when in France. This replaced the E111 form in 2005. It is available from most post offices and will cover the cost of any emergency businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 29.              |  29   medical care at French state hospitals during your visit, through a reciprocal EU agreement. It’s best to travel with an EHIC in conjunction with a comprehensive travel insurance plan, as the card does not cover all medical fees, repatriation or treatment of a non-urgent, ongoing medical condition. France has one of world’s top healthcare systems, and the emergency rooms are well equipped. Pharmacies in Paris take turns staying open after hours – lists are posted in the pharmacy windows. Access to prescription and over-the-counter drugs in France is excellent. businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 30.            |  30     Social  Media  Guide     Internet penetration in France is one of the highest in Europe with nearly 80% of people being connected. There is also an increasing number of Űber- connected individuals who have access to the internet at work, at home and on public transport. However, the issues of privacy and openness are high political priorities and their interpretation has seen clashes between French politicians and Silicon Valley CEOs. For example, banning the use of words such as “Facebook” and “Twitter” on TV and Radio is one way the French Government has illustrated its active discouragement of Social Media use. In general, French SMEs are late adopters of social media, which reflects the general trend of low adoption in the country. Despite this conservative approach to social media innovations, a wide range of social media networks are used by some businesses. Paris is the second largest city in Europe based on the number of Twitter users who set their location there. The younger generation of 18 to 24 year olds seem to dominate the social media networks in France. Legal aspects regarding the use of the Internet are very detailed and restrictive. The Employment Law Review (2012) in France suggests that information found on social media sites could be used by employers for checking an individual’s background and could also be used as evidence for dismissal. Similar to other European countries, the patterns of use of social networks is different amongst French SMEs and students where networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn are preferred by business audiences and Facebook and Skyrock by students. Twitter is well represented in France by the over 55s and played a major part in the 2012 French presidential elections. Private  individuals/Students   The Passport to Trade 2.0 project survey, had difficulties collecting primary data using social media. This in itself suggests that French people are less likely to share data online. Therefore, the main recommendations are based on secondary sources and the observations of the Passport to Trade advisors and the research team. Significant variations in the preferences of social media among the different age groups are evident from the 2010 ComScore numbers. The two largest social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter. Some of the other popular social media networks in France are: • Skyrock • Windows Live Profile • MySpace • Amsterdam-d Before Buddies • Badoo.com • Viadeo • Linkedin.com • Trombi.com • Instagram businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 31.            |  31     SMEs   In France, social media is increasingly being used by businesses. French SMEs seem to use a wide range of social networks. Most popular among these are Viadeo and LinkedIn, followed closely by Facebook. Viadeo is a Paris based Social Media Club, and although lagging behind LinkedIn, it has been well financed and is targeting emerging markets for its growth. Most French websites also increasingly integrate links to their social media profiles such as Facebook. Viadeo and LinkedIn are particularly useful for French companies who are experienced in collaborations abroad, and this indicates the international dimension of these networks. Most popular social networks used in the France are: • Viadeo • Facebook • Twitter • LinkedIn • Pinterest • MySpace • Google+ Search  and  Social  Media  Marketing  for  International  Business   Learn how to use social media for business from one of Salford Business School’s latest business management courses. The course was jointly researched by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team and prepared in collaboration with some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can help businesses and individuals to make the best use of search and social media platforms. The course is called Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business and is applicable to students looking for placements abroad as well as businesses thinking about new trade links; it comprises the following twelve topics: How to develop a personal brand online (1/12) • • Whether you are a student beginning a job search or a business person planning a new business venture, personal branding can make a difference. Learn about personal branding and why it is important for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=l9LYw0mgtn4&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 32.            |  32     How to use Twitter (2/12) • • Learn the basics of using Twitter to develop an individual or business profile. Remember to use hash tag #SSMMUoS to share your learning journey on this course so far! http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9CVY3pp91Dc&feature=playe r_embedded How to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3/12) • • Learn the principles of SEO to ensure that your website and any social media profiles are found by individuals searching for your name, products and services. These basic principles of SEO include keyword research, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=zw27cRcwtM0&feature=player _embedded How to use social media for international business development (4/12) • • Social media networks break down the traditional country barriers, but do you know which networks are relevant for the country you are interested in trading with? Find out in this video how to identify the relevant networks and what social media strategies you might be able to use on these networks. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Bx-B56AHS4c&feature= player_embedded businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 33.            |  33     How to use Facebook (5/12) • • Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world and it can benefit you as a business as well as an individual. Learn how to develop a Facebook business page and see how other businesses use it and what strategies work for them. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UmRGn-vdcO8&feature= player_embedded How to use YouTube (6/12) • • YouTube was identified as the second largest social network amongst younger internet users as part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project. Learn how to optimise your video content in order to reach wider audiences for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=G2 0OVpmTBss How to use LinkedIn (7/12) • • LinkedIn is one of the three main professional social networks – the others being Xing and Viadeo which are also popular in several European countries. Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=N6e_EAUQqic&feature=playe r_embedded businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 34.            |  34     How to use Google+ (8/12) • • • Google+ is the second largest social network as of January 2013. It is one of the fastest growing social networks and one that has the biggest impact when it comes to search engine results integration for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine. Learn how to make the most of Google+ for you and your digital profiles. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=8ti 3SPHkEWw How to use copywriting online (9/12) • • Copywriting is a process of translating technical specifications and product descriptions into engaging and understandable customer focused text. Learn about the basic techniques in structuring your online content here. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=5f1hx_f2ONI&feature=player_ embedded How to stay legal on social media (10/12) • • Everything and anything you do and say online can be potentially viewed by anyone who has internet access. Always respect the law and familiarise yourself with new options offered to you through a creative commons licence which is popular online. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=eQxDpiHsdk&feature=player_embedde d businessculture.org     Content  France  
  • 35.            |  35     How to use monitoring and reporting (11/12) • • Whether you are an individual or a business spending time on social media – there has to be a return on your engagement online. How do you justify your engagement on social media to your boss? Listen to the industry experts in this area and see what you might be able to measure in respect of your on-line engagements. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=LbEq7jsG0jg&feature=player_ embedded How to blog (12/12) • • http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=OqVjR7oI8Rs&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     • Blogging is a process of writing text and sharing content with others. It can help your customers or friends to keep in-touch regardless of social media platforms. Think about the voice you might want to adopt and who your audience might be. Share your thoughts with us by writing a blog post about this MOOC. Tweet us the link to your post on the #SSMMUoS Twitter hash tag. Content  France  
  • 36.              |  36   Passport  to  Trade  2.0  Project  Partnership   Five Universities: Lead partner: Salford Business School, University of Salford, United Kingdom Elena Vasilieva Aleksej Heinze Alex Fenton URENIO research unit at Aristole University of Thessaloniki, Greece Christina Kakderi Nitsa Papadopouloui TSE Entre Research Centre Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland Satu Aaltonen Elisa Akola Institute for Information System Research University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany Verena Hausmann Susan P. Williams Petra Schubert Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania Adriana Grigorescu Leonardo Badea Three Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Spin, Italy Carmine Antonio Donato Dorella De Tommaso Technology Development & Innovation – TDI LTD Bulgaria Milanka Slavova Ivan Stoychev TIS Praha, Czech Republic Anna Klosova Richard Adekeye businessculture.org     Content  France