What's the business?
We are a family run resort in Pas-de-Calais, equidistant from Paris, London and Bruxelles.
La Cascade has been carefully and extensively refurbished and extended to create a high quality Restaurant, Bar, Fly Fishery and Well Being and Relaxation Retreat with 5 double B & B Bedrooms and two self contained flats. A seminar room is also available for corporate events.
Set in the beautiful and peaceful Canche Valley in Northern France, we are only 75 minutes from Calais, ideal for midweek or weekend breaks.
Where did the idea come from?
The original idea was to open the first fly fishing lake in Northern France, within easy access of the UK, Belgium & Holland and to introduce lake fly fishing to the French (90% French Fly Fishermen fish on rivers whereas 90% UK, Dutch & Belgian Fly Fishermen fish on lakes).
We found the ideal location for sale equipped with an old village bar and a first floor flat and decided to develop a bigger activity from there.
How difficult was it to set up the business?
It’s been complicated. I’ve lived in France for ten years now so speak French fluently, without the language I don’t think we would have had as much success in creating our business – especially in rural France where fewer people tend to speak English.
Its also taken a lot of time getting to know the right people and finding the right contacts in the area which has been so important for our business. We created the lake ourselves which proved to be a very long and complicated process.
(Photo: La Cascade)
We had to work with several departmental organisations to adhere to their strict terms, we even had to endure a public enquiry – the whole process took three and a half years to finally get consent. We’re still learning about the area and people from the area but once you start finding the right contacts, it really helps.
What advice would you offer for others starting a business in France?
If you’re creating a business make sure you’re prepared for eventual delays and a lot of paperwork. Make sure you find a bank that is prepared to support you and make sure you work with a reputable accountant.
If you’re in rural France, you need to learn the language.
Start working on finding the right contacts from before you’ve even begun setting up your business. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry can be helpful in guiding you on the right path and can even help with your business strategy. Joining a relevant union will help with all legal aspects of your business.
Get on good terms with the local mayor who can be of real help if you gain their trust and support.
Look at joining groups to get to know other professionals in the area, there are many. I’ve recently joined the CJD – a national organization for ‘young’ directors and business owners where the aim is for self development and to help one another with any common issues and problems one faces as a business owner in France. Its also a great networking platform.
Don’t underestimate how much time you need to dedicate to marketing and advertising your business – We’ve used as many platforms as possible – social media, local media, radio, local television, salons…
Make sure you have a good knowledge of French employment laws if you intend to employ anyone – they’re very strict in France and are designed to protect the employee rather than the employer.