These are the ‘best companies’ to work for in France in 2018

An annual list of the best companies to work for in France has been released

These are the 'best companies' to work for in France in 2018
Photo: Happy employee/Depositphotos

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to swap jobs in France, this list may help you make your mind up.

For the fourth year running, French business magazine Capital has launched its Best Employer in France ranking after interviewing a total of 20,000 employees from companies with staff numbering 500+.

All those who filled in the questionnaire were approached by email, without having to disclose their position within the hierarchy of their companies.

Company headquarters weren’t informed either, in a bid to keep the answers as truthful as possible.

The top spot on the ranking has been claimed by none other than Airbus, proving that being embroiled in a corruption scandal involving millions or euros allegedly syphoned off “for unknown purposes” doesn’t necessarily affect morale or general worker satisfaction.

The pan-European aeronautical giant, which has 48,000 employees in France, edged past Gaz Naturel GRDF in employees' good books as a result of “an increase in salaries and plenty of business orders”.

As for France’s main gas supplier, they’ve had an incredible rise in the ranks from 33rd in 2016 to 11th in 2017.

In third place, is Chanel Parfums Beauté aka Chanel. The luxury perfume brand has just 1600 employees in France, which may explain why its workers responded so favourably to being part of one of the world’s most highly coveted brands.

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Another aircraft manufacturer is in fourth place – Dassault Aviation – much smaller than Airbus with only 9300 employees but a regular in the top ten since Capital launched this ranking.

French Multinational Thales, which designs and builds everything from weapon systems, to radars and aerospace electronics, employs 34500 people in France and came in in fifth place.

Then there’s Enedis, a subsidiary of EDF, the country’s largely state owned electricity supplier. According to Capital, their emphasis on training has landed them sixth place.

In seventh, another French aeronautical multinational –Safran, doing well and set to merge with aerospace powerhouse Zodiac.

In eighth, an unsurprising entry: Google France. The company with the smallest number of workers in France (700) to make the top ten.

To finish the top ten there’s Paris public transport company RATP in 9th and state run bank Caisse des depots in 10th.

Other big names such as oil company Total (14th) and Microsoft (18th) lingered slightly behind but still received scores higher than 7 out of 10, the computer giant offering perks such as “private top up health insurance or a care home contract”.

France’s biggest pharma company Sanofi (17th) continues to make the list year after year.

Air France (25th) has “improved employee morale” and sporting goods retailer Decathlon (24th) is the highest position for a low-cost brand on the list.

Swiss food and drink multinational Nestlé (27th), soon to be headquartered in Paris, is on the list again.

Christian Dior (21st) is the only partner in the multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVHM to make the top 30, whereas L’Oreal came in 23rd, praised for offering “varied career paths”.

Closing off the list are Alsatian brewers Kronenbourg, the only beer company to make it. Cheers to them!

By Alex Dunham 

For members


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?

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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.

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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.