Building and construction in France

Opportunities for UK companies as the French government promotes sustainable development and green building programmes.

Market overview

  • France has an excellent infrastructure

  • The French government plans to build 22,500 new social housing and create 45,000 jobs in this sector by 2014.

  • The government also plans to renovate 500,000 existing buildings each year, with a main objective of improving energy management in homes.

  • There has been an increased interest for sustainable development and green building programmes within the French property industry and the construction sector. The French government are keen to promote the uptake of very low and close to zero energy homes

The current economic situation has certainly had a significant impact on all industries. The building and construction sector noticed a slight decrease in sales at the end of 2012 i.e. -1.2% in volume against -1.9% which was initially predicted. However the renovation market and non residential new builds market actually experienced a productive year 2012.

The four leading Building Contractors in France are:

  • Vinci

  • Bouygues

  • Eiffage

  • Spie Batignolles

The ‘Grenelle de l’Environnement’ (equivalent to the Green Deal) found that reducing residential and commercial buildings’ energy consumption had to be a priority for environmental policy because the building and construction sector is one of the main energy consumers in France. Its original goal was to make all new buildings consume less than 50 kWk/m2/year (initially by 2012) and become energy neutral or positive by 2020. This new set of thermal regulations “RT2012” replaces the previous RT 2005. The energy efficiency market should remain stable until 2014, with a turnover expected to rise from 47% to 330%.

Key Figures: (source: FFB – Féderation Française du Bâtiment 2011)

  • 347,000 existing Building and Construction companies in France

  • The French Building and Construction sector is worth €129 billion Euros.

  • New builds individual housing = 215,000

  • New builds Apartment = 206,000

  • TOTAL = 421,000 housing starts

Key opportunities

  • Grand Paris – aims to improve the Paris infrastructure of surrounding cities to become the leading economic pole. Its goal will be to build a sustainable city which offers a better quality of service to visitors and local habitants. Improving the transport network (57 new railway stations planned, 3 automatic underground lines – the Grand Paris Express). Including the creation of a Greater Paris public transport network to better link airports, railway stations and central Paris.

  • Energy efficiency, including positive energy buildings, and opportunities in the timber house market

Latest opportunities in Construction sector

Latest export opportunities in France

Getting into the market

  • Ensure that all documents & brochures are translated into French.

  • Formality (use “Vous”, Monsieur/Madame)

  • Punctuality – Turn up on time, but still expect your French interlocutor to be late

  • Shaking hands first/business card after

  • French like to see, taste and touch before buying

  • Confirm in writing – keep in regular contact. Building up a relationship over time is key

  • Communicate clear USP – what makes my product stand out from the competition?

  • Ensure good quality-price ratio

  • Quotes and Invoices should be done in Euros

  • Visit the market frequently

  • Meet relevant French local standards

  • Build up a relationship over time

  • Find a good partner

More about doing business in France


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in Construction

Latest events for France

Major Events


Meet the Buyer event at Trade Show (organised by UKTI France)

November 2013 (exact dates to be confirmed)

Grand Paris

Meet the Buyer event at the British Embassy Paris (organised by UKTI France)

January 2014 (exact dates to be confirmed)

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Construction
Countries: France
Export Action Plan