France isn’t exactly known as a hub for entrepreneurialism.
Just short of one quarter of the nation’s residents work for the government and study after study shows dismal responses when the French were asked about their interest in becoming an entrepreneur. For American expats in France, the plight is even more difficult, between the regulatory red tape and the seemingly risk-averse culture of French lending institutions.
Still, there are entrepreneurial opportunities to be had in France…if you know where to look.
5 best French cities for American entrepreneurs to launch a business in!
Lyon is consistently overlooked in favor of big-sister Paris, but the city has been ranked #1 in all of France for work-life balance (as if the French needed any help). Additionally, the city has been lauded by several publications as the most business-friendly city in the country outside of Paris and property here is far more affordable for US expatriates than in more popular tourist destinations nearby.
Toulouse is France’s answer to Silicon Roundabout in London. The city is considered a hub for startups in the tech field and several notable European tech brands got off the ground here including Scoop.it and Noomeo. The city actually sponsors a “Startup Weekend” each year to encourage collaboration among entrepreneurs and there are several universities nearby offering courses in starting a business.
Marseilles is a fantastic city for entrepreneurs in no small part to its proximity to Paris. Easily accessible by train or car, Paris is a short trip away but entrepreneurs can live more simply and cheaply in Marseilles. The city has its own Startup Weekend every year and is extremely friendly to American expats. Not only that, but the city itself sponsors several events, presentations, and symposiums on business and entrepreneurialism each year.
Many of the biggest brands in the worlds host their branded “startup incubator” events in Nantes each year which makes it a great place for rubbing elbows with business talent. The city is way off the beaten path for tourists and is decidedly less expensive than Paris. Nantes is the “green” capital of France so eco-friendly businesses aren’t just welcome here, they’re encouraged.
Paris is finally, finally doing something about its antiquated stance on entrepreneurialism. Facing a public revolt of sorts in 2012, Paris lawmakers are putting some tangible efforts in place to make Paris a better place to launch a startup. A 1.1 million square foot warehouse is being converted on the edge of town to create the largest startup incubator in the world when it opens, and the local “Red Carpet Day,” an event for startups founded by a British expat, is showing exciting momentum. If you can afford the initial cost and the wait, Paris is a good place to be in business.
Want to start a business in France? Better start now!
Things are getting better every year but France’s regulatory hurdles and socialist setup aren’t exactly the best things for entrepreneurialism. If you want to start your own business in France, try to make it happen first in one of these five cities.