The ‘top ten’ companies to work for in France

A new standings table was released on Wednesday that ranks the best companies in France to work for. Although Anglo multi-nationals took many of the higher places, it was a French company with an aversion to meetings that grabbed the prestigious top spot.

The 'top ten' companies to work for in France
New study names top companies to work for in France. Work photo: Shutterstock

Many expats coming to France, a country renowned for its generous paid holidays and benefits, would be happy simply working anywhere.

But a new study released this week has revealed the 'best' companies in France to work for and many of them are indeed Anglo firms. 

The branches of Mars, Pepsico and Microsoft in France took three of the top five spots in the rankings that honoured companies with over 500 employees that treat workers the best and keeping them the most motivated.

McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble as well as General Mills also made the top ten, according to the Great Place to Work Institute, which carried out the study.

Though the rankings have been around for 12 years, this year was the first time a French company, Davidson Consulting, won the top spot for a company with more than 500 workers. In 2013 Microsoft France was the country’s best employer in this category.

The institute's France Director Patrick Dumoulin said there is a difference between the culture in French and Anglo companies, however the gap is steadily narrowing.

"In Anglo companies people like to compare themselves, talk about their income, show their ambition. In French companies you have to be more reserved on these fronts,"  Dumoulin told The Local.

"Companies like Mars and Microsoft have given French companies the desire to compare themselves to others. I think French companies have picked up the best attributes of the Anglophone companies."

He noted a French company was absent from the top of the ranking for so long because they faced "very, very, very tough competitors, who pushed French companies to do better."

Below are the top ten best companies in France to work for, with firms with over 500 employees listed on the left and those with under 500 listed on the right.

(Photo: Screengrab Le Figaro)

French workers are generally well protected by the country’s labour laws and are entitled to benefits like five weeks of paid holidays, restaurant vouchers and a 35-hour work week. But this study, which companies must pay to participate in, takes into account somewhat less tangible strengths like trust in management, pride in work and atmosphere.

As an example, Great Place to Work pointed to Mars' offices which are in an open space format for workers of all levels, including the head of the group. The idea is to open up communication by knocking down barriers between levels of the hierarchy.

The French company Davidson Consulting's attitude was strong on intangible benefits and promoted an atmosphere that may sound familiar to American or British workers.

“We highly value the quality of the atmosphere at in our offices. A colleague who has low morale or who feels that they are thought of as a number will not be as fulfilled and will not offer the same quality of service to the clients,” Davidson President Edouard Mandelkern told French daily Le Figaro.

The company has banned meetings that are  “boring or a waste of time” and has only one regular meeting that is held once a week and lasts an maximum of an hour. Davidson Consulting also organizes company sports outings, like skydiving and plans to have a group of nine young workers share an apartment.

SEE ALSO: French meetings: Eight things you need to know

Do you work at any of the companies listed above? Let us know if they really are one of the best places to work.

Ten dream jobs for expats working in France


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How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.