How to set up a restaurant in France

Restaurant in Nanteil-en-Vallee, Charente (c) Leggett Immobilier

Restaurant in Nanteil-en-Vallee, Charente (c) Leggett Immobilier - Credit: Leggett Immobilier

Seen a French property that would make fabulous food business but unsure of the paperwork and process? Read Tracy Leonetti’s at-a-glance guide to opening a restaurant or cafe in France

Chefs working in a French restaurant (c) nicexray Getty Images

Chefs working in a French restaurant (c) nicexray Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you are thinking of setting up a restaurant in France, I’m a great believer in following your dreams and making them happen. But of course, planning ahead is extremely important.

The first key point would be to ensure the restaurant concept is clear (theme, menu, decoration, pricing) along with the business plan and market study so that you know your project is viable before investing. Ask yourself the right questions and if you are not sure what they are, then get some help.

Creation of the business

The business will need to be registered with several organisations: the RCS (trade and companies register), the SSI (social security for businesses) and the tax office.

For help with these formalities I would highly recommend that you make an appointment with the local CCI (chambre de commerce) in the area where you are thinking of opening your restaurant as they can accompany you through the preparation of your business plan and with the business formalities. They can also discuss the different types of legal and fiscal structures for your restaurant. It’s very important to understand the options open to you as the cost of running a business can be high.


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Licences and training courses

You will need an operating licence (permis d’exploitation) if you are thinking of serving alcohol during the meals. If you want to serve alcohol outside of the meals, you will need to apply for a bar licence called a ‘licence de débit de boissons à consommer sur place’. To obtain this licence a two-and-a-half-day operating licence training course needs to be followed, costing approximately €550. You will be issued with a certificate at the end of this course that needs to be given to your local mairie (town hall) in order to get your licence. So, again, a good point of contact would be to go and see the local mairie in the area where you want to set up your business. They are generally helpful with the paperwork so get them involved in your project early on!

There are a few organisations offering training and the one you choose may depend on where your business will be and their availability for courses. Here is one to get you started.

Health and safety

You will also need to attend an obligatory hygiene training course. This training course lasts two days and any chef you employ should have done this training course but it’s a good idea that you follow the course too, as you will be ultimately responsible for your restaurant and its hygiene.

One last word of advice, work towards your dream, one step at a time.

Tracey Leonetti is director of Leonetti Business Services, paperwork specialists in France

As of 26/10/18 the restaurant in Nanteuil-en-Vallée, pictured above, is on the market with Leggett Immobilier for €371,000

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