Doing Businessin France

French Market Insights

France is the seventh largest global economy and the third largest in Europe. However the Covid-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for the French market.

Enterprise Ireland is responding to the global crisis by working with Irish exporters to help them avail of business response supports announced by the Government. These supports are designed to help businesses stabilise and adapt to the evolving situation, in preparation for getting back on the road to recover.

Market Overview

France is one of the world’s biggest and wealthiest industrial powers and a member of the G7. Its economy is historically resilient, and stable, and less prone to boom and bust cycles. France is among the leading global industrial economies in the automotive, aerospace, and railways sectors. Cosmetics, luxury goods, insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, power generation, defense, agriculture and hospitality, are all strong performing sectors. More than 500 Enterprise Ireland client companies are selling into France.

67m Population

GDP per capita 2020 $38,625

G7 Member

Get Export Ready

From aerospace to pharmaceuticals and agribusiness to online selling, many of France’s world leading industries are powered from outside of Paris. 75% of the medical device manufacturing industry is concentrated in four regions: Ile-de-France, Rhône- Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, and Alsace. Opportunities can be found in a competitive cluster called Lyon Biopôle. It is charged with promoting collaboration between local companies, and scientific research and training institutions, working in the field of infectious diseases. As 22 regions become 12, Enterprise Ireland has seen an increase in regional competition for foreign direct investment – solidifying the opportunities for overseas firms looking to relocate outside of Paris.

Key Market Sectors

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in France’s fintech, digital and medtech sectors.

Additionally, pharma, engineering, construction and aerospace continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale, and develop a presence in the French market.

Read more on France’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guide.

  • France is the 2nd largest medical device market in Western Europe
  • France is the 3rd largest European economy
  • Enterprise Ireland supported companies exports exceeded €1.1bn in 2020

Doing Business

France’s business culture is much more formal than Ireland’s. It is different to the ‘transaction based’ markets of the UK, the US and the Netherlands.

Sales cycles are often longer because French organisations like to go through extensive due diligence before choosing a new supplier, especially a new-to-market foreign company.

Long lead times are usual. It may take 18 months or more to land a first sale. This is due to two critical factors in French business culture – an aversion to risk and a tendency towards long-term planning.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge. Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on the ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated. The key routes to market in France are direct sales, commercial agents, partnerships and distributors. Download our Going Global Guide to France to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the French market. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the French market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.


Patrick Torrekens
Manager France


Enterprise Ireland
27 rue de Berri
75008 Paris


00 33 (0) 153 43 12 00