How to Start a Café or Coffee Shop in Paris France

how to start a cafe or coffee shop paris france

Starting a café or coffee shop in Paris can be a dream come true, especially being that Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, but it requires careful planning, substantial investment, and a deep understanding of the local market. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process of opening a café or coffee shop in Paris, France.

1. Research and Planning
Market Research

Conduct thorough market research to understand the Parisian coffee culture, consumer preferences, and competitors. Visit popular cafés, analyze their menus, pricing, and customer service. Identify gaps in the market that your café could fill.

Business Plan

Create a detailed business plan outlining your concept, target market, unique selling proposition, marketing strategy, operational plan, and financial projections. This document will be crucial for securing financing and guiding your business decisions.

2. Legal Requirements
Business Structure

Decide on the legal structure of your business. In France, you can choose from several options such as sole proprietorship (auto-entrepreneur), partnership (société en nom collectif), limited liability company (société à responsabilité limitée – SARL), or a public limited company (société anonyme – SA). Each structure has its own legal and tax implications.

Registration and Permits

Register your business with the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE). Obtain all necessary permits, including a commercial license, health and safety permits, and, if you plan to serve alcohol, a liquor license. You may also need to register with the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI).

Compliance with Regulations

Ensure compliance with French labor laws, including contracts, wages, and working conditions. Familiarize yourself with the rules regarding food safety, hygiene, and waste management.

3. Location and Lease
Choosing the Right Location

Select a location with high foot traffic, visibility, and accessibility. Consider neighborhoods frequented by tourists, office workers, students, or residents. Popular areas include Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Montmartre.

Negotiating a Lease

Lease terms in Paris can be complex, often involving three-year contracts with options to renew. Work with a real estate agent or lawyer to negotiate favorable terms. Ensure the lease allows for any renovations you plan to make.

4. Design and Setup
Café Concept and Design

Develop a clear concept and design that reflects your brand and appeals to your target market. Consider the layout, furniture, lighting, and décor. A cozy, inviting atmosphere can attract regular customers.

Equipment and Supplies

Invest in high-quality coffee machines, grinders, refrigerators, and other essential equipment. Source ingredients like coffee beans, milk, and pastries from reputable suppliers. Consider sustainable options to appeal to eco-conscious consumers.

Menu Development

Create a diverse menu that includes a variety of coffee drinks, teas, pastries, sandwiches, and other light snacks. Cater to different dietary preferences, including vegan, gluten-free, and low-sugar options.

5. Staffing

Hire skilled baristas, cooks, and service staff who are passionate about coffee and customer service. Advertise job openings on local job boards, social media, and through word-of-mouth.


Provide comprehensive training to ensure consistency in coffee preparation, food handling, and customer service. Foster a positive work environment to retain staff and minimize turnover.

6. Marketing and Promotion

Develop a strong brand identity, including a logo, color scheme, and tagline. Ensure your branding is reflected in all aspects of your café, from signage to menus to social media.

Online Presence

Create a professional website and maintain active social media profiles on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Use these channels to share updates, promote special offers, and engage with customers.

Local Marketing

Participate in local events, collaborate with nearby businesses, and offer loyalty programs to attract and retain customers. Consider hosting workshops, tastings, or live music to create a community atmosphere.

7. Financial Management

Create a detailed budget covering startup costs, ongoing expenses, and revenue projections. Monitor your finances closely to ensure you stay within budget and adjust your strategy as needed.

Pricing Strategy

Set prices that reflect your costs, target market, and competition. Regularly review your pricing strategy to ensure it remains competitive and profitable.

Accounting and Taxes

Keep accurate financial records and work with an accountant to manage your taxes. Familiarize yourself with French tax regulations and ensure timely filing of all required documents.

8. Operations and Customer Service
Daily Operations

Establish standard operating procedures for all aspects of your café, including opening and closing routines, inventory management, and customer service. Ensure your staff follows these procedures consistently.

Customer Feedback

Encourage customer feedback and use it to improve your offerings and service. Address any issues promptly and strive to exceed customer expectations.

9. Sustainability
Eco-friendly Practices

Implement eco-friendly practices such as using biodegradable packaging, reducing waste, and sourcing local, organic ingredients. Promote these efforts to attract environmentally conscious customers.

Community Involvement

Engage with the local community by supporting local causes, collaborating with nearby businesses, and participating in community events. Building strong community ties can enhance your café’s reputation and customer loyalty.

10. Continuous Improvement
Monitor Performance

Regularly assess your café’s performance against your business plan and financial goals. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales, customer satisfaction, and employee performance to gauge success.

Adapt and Innovate

Stay informed about industry trends and customer preferences. Be willing to adapt your menu, services, and marketing strategies to stay competitive and meet evolving customer needs.


Starting a café or coffee shop in Paris is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. By conducting thorough research, planning meticulously, and maintaining a strong focus on quality and customer service, you can create a successful and beloved establishment. Remember to stay adaptable and continuously seek ways to improve and innovate. With dedication and passion, your café can become a cherished part of the vibrant Parisian coffee culture.

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