Launching global websites in the French market

The 103rd Tour de France is well underway, with almost 200 cyclists covering 2,200 miles around France over the course of three weeks. The world’s biggest cycling race is being broadcasted to over 190 countries, attracting millions of viewers both domestically and internationally. France is the sixth largest economy in the world, and events such as the Tour de France present rich opportunities for businesses looking to expand globally.

If expansion into France aligns with your company’s goals, it can be a very worthwhile market to explore. Here are several insights into planning for language translation targeted toward French audiences.

Quick facts

  • There are over 220 million French native speakers around the world, making French one of the most widely spoken languages
  • With over 85 million foreign tourists visiting the country in 2015, France is the world’s leading tourist destination
  • France is the third largest EU ecommerce economy, valued at approximately $72 billion in 2015
  • France had about 30 million online buyers in 2015


Visual design

Compared to Asian websites, for example, European sites generally exhibit simply designed interfaces with straightforward messaging. France, in particular, is a highly visual nation. French websites are typically very stylistic, often including rich graphical elements and high-quality photos. As a result, an emphasis on design and visual content resonates strongly with French audiences.

Translation tips

In general, translations from English into French require about 15–20% more words, making target translations more lengthy. This is simply a linguistic feature of the French language, and businesses looking to localize should take this into consideration when designing and launching French websites.

In addition, you should keep in mind the geographic area and dialect you wish to localize into. For example, French Canadian is distinct from the French spoken in France. Just because your content is localized into French doesn’t necessarily mean that the content will be understood by both audiences. Don’t make the mistake of using one language for both markets—you’ll offend at least one population. Subtle discrepancies such as appropriate word choices can be a driving factor in forming quality relationships with customers.

Is France on your roadmap for global expansion? Gengo has helped many businesses expand into France and other French-speaking markets. After launching the French version of their website in 2014, designer homeware retailer Amara saw explosive growth, with a 20% increase in conversion rates from France and a whopping 650% increase in revenue within one year.

Go global with Gengo’s people-powered translation platform.

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Alex Nguyen

The author

Alex Nguyen

Alex crafts and coordinates content for Gengo’s marketing team. Based in San Francisco after a brief stint in Tokyo, she loves all things culture and design. When not at Gengo, she’s likely brushing up on her Japanese, letting loose at indie electronic shows or trying out new ice cream spots in the city.

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