Business Travel in France

A Hot Tip about Business Travel in France

Last updated: 4 Mar 2011

Business Customs

The most important characteristic of French business behavior is its emphasis on courtesy and a certain formality. Appointment schedules and hierarchical titles are to be respected and correspondence – whether by mail or by fax – should be acknowledged promptly. A handshake is customary upon initiating and closing a business meeting, accompanied by an appropriate greeting. Professional attire is expected.


Today, many French executives put less emphasis on long, heavy business lunches for reasons of health and time. Nevertheless, informal business discussions in restaurants where everyone appreciates a good meal are one of the best ways to promote good working relations.


Travel Advisory

State Department Travel Website:


Visa Requirements

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security options are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.


State Department Visa Website:


United States “”:


Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy Paris: ttp://


U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security options are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.


State Department Visa Website:

United States

American Embassy Paris, Visas:



Telecommunications, to and from Paris, compare favorably with those in any large U.S. city. A direct-dial telephone system links France to the U.S. and most of the world. Calls to the States may be charged to international telephone cards such as AT&T, MCI and Sprint; international directory inquiries may be reached by dialing 0-800-99-00-11 (AT&T Direct U.S. operator). Most public phones in France are equipped for the convenient "Télécartes" (pre-paid cards) available in tobacco shops, post offices and subway/railway stations at 15 euro for 100 units and 7,50 euro for 50 units.




Frequent direct air service is available to many U.S. and French cities. The two airports serving Paris – Charles De Gaulle Roissy and Orly – are easily accessible by excellent bus (Air France) and rail service. The French railway system is among the best in the world; its efficient network ties in conveniently with public transportation in most French cities. Buses and the Metro (subway) may be crowded during rush hours, but they provide fast and efficient service; however, a word to the wise: as in many large cities worldwide, one should be alert to the dangers of pickpockets while in public places.



While French is the official language in France, many business people speak English. Product literature, correspondence and negotiations in the French language provide a distinct advantage over competitors who use only English. It should be noted that other EU suppliers are accustomed to dealing in the French language.



Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy Paris:


American Hospital in Paris

63, boulevard Victor Hugo

92200 Neuilly-sur -Seine

Telephone: (+33)

(24-hour English-speaking medical and dental emergency service; credit cards accepted.)


Emergency Medical Team and Ambulance (SAMU)

Telephone: 15 or (+33)




Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

The working days abutting the French holidays and vacation periods are not prime time for business meetings; this includes the month of August and the several vacation periods between Christmas and Easter. Business hours in France are generally 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (banking hours 9:00-4:30) Monday through Friday, while stores are generally open 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. To ensure availability, advance appointments are recommended.


French Holidays

January 1, 2009 New Year's Day

April 13, 2009 Easter Monday

May 1, 2009 Labor Day / Ascension Day

May 8, 2009 Veterans' Day (WWII)

May 21, 2009 Whit Monday

July 14, 2009 French National Day

August 15, 2009 Assumption Day

November 1, 2009 All Saints' Day

November 11, 2009 Veterans' Day (WWI)

December 25, 2009 Christmas (Noël)


Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Every U.S. citizen entering France must present a valid American passport; for stays of less than 3 months there is no requirement for visas, entry permits or health certificates. Bona fide personal effects in a visitor's luggage (or hand-carried) are not normally subject to customs duties no to the 19.6 percent value-added tax. Items to be declared, however, include those intended to be left in France, goods for professional/commercial use as well as any prohibited items. Goods imported for exhibition may enter under bond, deposit or an ATA carnet.


Professional equipment may be temporarily imported into France free of duty and tax under the Customs Convention on Temporary Importation of Professional Equipment; the appropriate carnet may be obtained from the U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce.


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Posted: 08 January 2010, last updated 4 March 2011

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