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Company Formation France



Open a Restaurant in France

Updated on Sunday 22nd January 2023

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Open-a-restaurant-in-FranceFrance is well known at a global level for its specific cuisine, and this is one of the main reasons for which foreign visitors arrive in this country, after visiting various touristic spots. In Europe, France has one of the most competitive tourism industries, due to its beautiful sightseeing destinations and its gastronomic culture. Foreign entrepreneurs and companies are keen on exploring the investment opportunities France offers from a touristic point of view which is why many of them open restaurants, hotel chains and travel agencies here.
If you want to open a business in the tourism industry you will be subject to various legal requirements for each of the categories. Our French company formation representatives can offer information about the laws related to opening a restaurant in this beautiful country. You can also rely on our French consultants for assistance in setting up a restaurant business.


Choosing the right business form for a French restaurant


Both local and foreign investors have the same rights when it comes to opening a company in France. They all must respect the provisions of the Company Law which provide for several company registration steps before running a restaurant in France. One of the first and most important steps is to choose the business form when opening a French restaurant. Entrepreneurs can choose between the following types of companies available for incorporation in France:


  • • the sole proprietorship, which is suitable for small restaurants and family food-related businesses, including catering companies;
  • • the partnership, which is usually the choice of foreign investors who prefer to have a local entrepreneur as a partner;
  • • the limited liability company, which is by far the preferred choice of both local and foreign enterprisers;
  • • the joint venture which is another way of starting a restaurant in partnership with a French business.
No matter the business form one decides for, our French company formation advisors can help them register it with the Trade Register. It is also important to notice that a restaurant business can also run as a branch or subsidiary of a foreign-based restaurant.
Our accountants in France provide you with a series of services designed to help you in the company from this point of view. We invite you to discover our payroll, bookkeeping, preparation, and submission of annual financial statements, audits, and human resources management services. We also help company owners with registration for paying taxes, but also with complete financial reports to know where the company is from a financial point of view.

Company registration, the first step for opening a French restaurant


In order to set up any type of business in France, one must incorporate a company with the Trade Register. This procedure is also necessary when opening a restaurant in France. The most employed vehicle for this type of business is the limited liability company. This type of company must be registered under the commercial and industrial category of professions. Our company registration agents in France can help you with the whole business registration procedure.


Mandatory inspections when creating a restaurant in France


A basic step investors have to perform prior to opening a restaurant in France is to receive an inspection from the French institutions, the ones that are responsible with the safety measures and health measures of the premises. The steps mentioned below are mandatory for this process: 
  1. an inspection from the city hall which will verify if the location respects the protection of minors orders and the operating hours;
  2. the inspection of the fire department which will verify if the location respects the fire safety requirements;
  3. the inspection of the police department which is part of the security check commission arranged by the city hall;
  4. the inspection of the general council which includes the verification of the hygiene regulations.


If you want to open a company in France and need support, our local consultants can offer assistance during the registration procedure. Our team of consultants in company registration in France can provide you with legal advice on this procedure, as well as tax consultancy services on the taxes you are required to pay when opening a French restaurant.

What should investors know when opening a restaurant in France?

There are plenty of aspects that should be of interest for foreign investors who want to open a company in France as a restaurant. When deciding on the legal entity, investors should make sure they have a suitable location for their premises, that they have created a realistic business plan and that they have all the licenses needed for their activity. Then, they must consider employment matters. 
The location of a French restaurant is crucial for the success of the business. If you will select a large French city, there will numerous competitors, some of which can be actually very well reputed amongst the local population, but as well as among the foreign visitors. A conventional way to start a business is to set it up in a place that is generally very crowded, so that you can have the possibility of reaching numerous clients, simply due the fact that your establishment is in a location that is easy to reach. 
However, if you do find a location that fits this description, then you should be prepared to pay a high monthly rent for the respective place, and the business plan should reflect the maximum amount that you can invest in the initial phases of the project.  
If you will prefer to select a more discrete location due to your personal preferences of budget limitations, then you must make sure that you will have a plan to attract customers once the restaurant is open. Here, the menu should be of importance, as well as the décor of the location. 
Of course, marketing plans are also of importance, such as offering various discounts, or providing various types of offers that can attract your clientele. Here, you can use various channels, from simpler flyers directly given to people on the street, to social media publicity and others. If you need advice on how to reach the target group that is of interest for you, you can address to our team of consultants in company registration in France, who can help you create a suitable strategy. 
Please mind that you do not have to go through the entire stage of opening a restaurant in France, you can also purchase a restaurant available for sale, which can have certain advantages, one of them that the place is already familiar to the local consumer market. 
Still, in this case it is highly recommended to perform the due diligence procedures to find out the exact reasons for which the unit is available for sale; this procedure should be completed with the utmost attention, especially to the financial aspects of the respective business and here, you can be represented by our team of specialists in company formation in France.  
Then, you must prepare the business plan, in which you should have a clear image on your weekly estimated expenses and find out how many dishes or clients you should serve in order to at least cover the costs. Here, you must add the costs of your suppliers (for food, drinks, fruits and vegetables, etc.), the costs of utilities, insurance, the costs associated with licenses and other business permits, the employment costs and the taxes due, to name the basic costs that can appear when opening a restaurant in France

Licenses for restaurants in France


Once the company registration process is completed, the licensing phase will begin. Opening a French restaurant implies obtaining several licenses related to the food to be processed, the serving of alcoholic beverages and so on. Most of these licenses are obtained with the city hall of the city of town where the restaurant is located. One needs to fulfill the following conditions in order to be allowed to establish a restaurant in France:
  • • a notice for the protection of minors must be obtained;
  • • the opening hours of the restaurant must be approved by the police department;
  • • for safety reasons, the premises of the restaurant must be inspected by the fire and the police departments;
  • • for hygiene reasons, the location must be approved by the Department of Social Protection;
  • • the owner must also hire specialized personnel who will first undergo a medical examination.

Obtaining a food license for a French restaurant


The most important license which needs to be obtained when setting up a restaurant in France is the license which enables the company to handle, prepare and serve food on the premises. The license is obtained from the Department of Social Cohesion and Protection of the Population. Based on this license, the company can handle and prepare animal and fish-based dishes. Prior to issuing the license, the restaurant will be inspected by the representatives of this Department.

Obtaining a drinks license for a restaurant in France


Investors should make all the necessary arrangements in order to obtain a drinks license for their French restaurant. This is mandatory provided that you want to serve alcohol in your restaurant. However, considering that all restaurants serve some type of alcohol, you will most likely want to obtain one the alcohol licenses available here. In France, one can obtain several types of alcohol licenses, as follows:
  • • the license II type under which the restaurant can serve alcoholic beverages with a volume of up to 3%, such as wine, beer, and cider;
  • • the license III type under which the restaurant can serve alcoholic drinks with a volume of up to 18%, such as wine and liqueurs;
  • • the license IV type under which the restaurant can serve the beverages mentioned above, plus rum and distilled alcoholic beverages;
  • • the license IV type can also be obtained by restaurants and bars serving alcoholic drinks outside the mealtimes.
For the sale of alcoholic drinks on the premises of the restaurant, the person in charge must undergo a specific course related to the prohibition of selling such beverages to minors. The fee for obtaining an alcohol license for a restaurant in France ranges between EUR 10,000 and EUR 20,000 (depending on the license required) and the application must be filed 15 days prior to the opening of the business.

Key aspects for those opening a restaurant in France 

Investors who have decided to start the process of company formation in France for a restaurant must know that this industry is very competitive and highly developed, not to mentioned specialized in providing specific types of products to which the local market is very accustomed to. Below, we will present few key aspects of the French restaurant industry
  • the industry’s annual revenue (when considering only commercial restaurant chains currently operating in France) has a value of EUR 15.32 billion;
  • the loss of the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic had a value of EUR 30 billion (data of 2020 compared to data of 2019);
  • the average price of a dish paid per person in a local restaurant is of EUR 14.6;
  • at a national level, there are 638 Michelin star restaurants;
  • a total of 33% of the French restaurants provide take-away services;
  • a large share of the French population, namely 65%, goes to a restaurant at least once a month

Other requirements to be respected by restaurants in France


Another important license which can be obtained when opening a restaurant in France is the SACEM license which allows the business owner to play music on the premises. It is also mandatory for the restaurant to hire specialized personnel who must be registered with the social security system. The restaurant staff must have the necessary qualifications and experience in certain cases and must respect the hygiene regulations imposed in France.
The restaurant must display the operating hours, the prices of the drinks and obtain a rating. For full information on how to set up a restaurant, please contact our company registration consultants in FranceOur team of consultants in company formation in France can provide more details on the process of opening a French restaurant.


Meet us in Paris

Call us now at +33 9 73 22 01 51 to set up an appointment with our lawyers in Paris, France. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to France.

As a BridgeWest client, you will beneficiate from the joint expertize of local lawyers and international consultants. Together we will be able to offer you the specialized help you require for your business start-up in France.