‘Yellow vests’ and strikes fail to put off foreign investors in France

A year of weekly 'yellow vest' protests - some violent - across France has not put off foreign businesses from investing in the country, new research has found.

'Yellow vests' and strikes fail to put off foreign investors in France
Not the image that France might want to present to the business world. Photo: AFP

The images of riot police out in force and restaurants burning on the Champs-Elysées were beamed around the world at the height of the 'yellow vest' protests, but despite this a survey of foreign investors in France has found that the movement has not shaken their confidence in the country.

As French president Emmanuel Macron tries hard to rebrand France as a country 'open for business' an Ipsos poll for Business France, the agency responsible for promoting France to foreign investors, found that 66 percent of businesses do not see an deterioration in France's image over the last year.

READ ALSO ANALYSIS Why it might be time to thanks the Gilets Jaunes for France's strong economy

Businesses were burned on the Champs-Elysées in March. Photo: AFP

And in fact 33 percent of the 200 foreign businesses operating in France who were surveyed found that the country's reputation has actually grown during 2019.

Although on a more cautious note, 39 percent said they had reconsidered a development project in France over the last year.

In his quest to make France more business-friendly, Macron has embarked on a series of changes to loosen restrictive employment practices in France, as well as promoting tech and start-up business, including with the creation of a start-up business fund financed by selling off state assets such as the Lottery.

READ ALSO Five reasons to start your own business in France

And 98 percent of the business leaders surveyed agreed that his reforms were helping them.

Foreign businesses in France contribute more than 25 percent of the country's Research & Development sector, and 33 percent of foreign exports.

As the French economy continues to grow and unemployment reaches a 10-year low, it is increasingly providing competition to Germany and the UK.

The next challenge facing France's reputation is the possibility of unlimited strikes in December against Macron's plans to reform the pension system.

READ ALSO 'Unlimited' strikes in December: What you need to know

When The Local asked France's government spokesman Sibeth Ndiaye about this recently, she wryly acknowledged that France does have something of a reputation for striking, but said she believes the country remains attractive despite that.

She said: “France is well known for strikes, from time to time.

“But if you look at the economic data over recent years, it still shows that France is an attractive country to invest in.”

And 81 percent of the companies surveyed said they would continue to invest in France in the coming years.

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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.