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Company Formation France



Open a Restaurant in France

Updated on Wednesday 17th April 2019

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Open-a-restaurant-in-FranceFrance is renowned for its cuisine which is the second reason after sightseeing for tourists to visits this country. This is also why France has one of the most developed tourism industries in Europe. 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.

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. The same requirement is available for those seeking to open 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

One of the steps which need to be completed before starting to operate a restaurant business in France is to have the premises inspected by the local authorities. The following inspections are mandatory when opening a restaurant in France:

  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.

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

One of the most important licenses to be obtained when opening a restaurant in France is the drinks license. There are several types of alcohol licenses which can be obtained:

  • -          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 10,000 and 20,000 euros (depending on the license required) and the application must be filed 15 days prior to the opening of the business.

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 France. Our local representatives can offer detailed information on all the requirements which must be respected for opening a restaurant in France.


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.



Starting a company in France can be difficult since it involves such complex procedures. The team from CompanyFormationFrance is very qualified and benefits from extensive expertise in this area.
Mihai Cuc, Partner of
Enescu & Cuc Law Firm
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