How to become part of the local Business Community

When Stephen came to the Languedoc to set up an English bookshop, there were no computers or faxes in France, and there was no EEC. When he eventually brought a fax from the UK it was confiscated by customs as an unapproved item which was incompatible with France Telecom technology. He had to pay for it to be shipped back to the supplier in the UK!

Fifteen years later, The Bookshop (not to be confused with Le Bookshop of Béziers!) has a wide customer base – Germans, Scandinvians, British, Dutch, and French. Students of different types and levels – school, university, business school, all have an element of English language in their curriculum, and The Bookshop is kept very busy preparing for the annual rentrée (start of academic year). It also has a second hand section which increasingly receives orders from specialist web-based second hand booksellers such as eBay.

Before moving to this part of the world Stephen had gained experience of teaching English (TEFL) in the South West of England and was therefore armed with a good knowledge of teaching materials. The attraction of France was the excellent weather and the cheaper cost of living, together with the sense that this society was more equitable.

Starting Blocks

To set up a business in France, it is necessary to register with the Chamber of Commerce who insist that you follow a short training course (in French) on regulations and how social security charges operate.
To obtain a business phone number, you first need to be registered. So it can be difficult to begin preparations before formalities are completed.

Day to Day Costs

Running a English bookshop in France entails shipping charges, and books also carry VAT in France. It is becoming cheaper to find suppliers in the United States than in the UK, where prices of books are not fixed and have risen considerably for books less in demand, such as Penguin classics.

What sells most in the shop?

The Da Vinci Code, which is 30% cheaper in France, even after translation and VAT.

What Advice would you give to someone considering a move to France to work?

Learn the language. This is imperative and essential if you would like to integrate into working life. You can become very isolated if you are unable to communicate with any colleagues or clients.
The French economy is not booming. Good employment is scarce in the south. Masses of French people would love to live here and have already moved here, and unemployment is higher than the national average.

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