Licence IV sign

Permission granted: our permis d’exploitation

Selling alcohol in France is tougher than you might think. You need both a licence and a permit. Damon and I already own a licence, and now, after three days of tuition this week, we also have the all-important permit.

We bought our bar licence – a licence IV, as it’s known – back in the spring.

They range from around 6 000€ to 80 000€ on average, apparently. Here in Lille, one would typically set you back 60 000€.

In Belvès, however, the going rate is, thankfully, somewhat less than that.

Importantly, you can only have one bar licence for every 450 inhabitants. So we were lucky to get one in Belvès, where there are 1 400 people.

That’s just three licences.

Licence IV sign

But you also need a permis d’exploitation, a licence to operate, and that’s where the three days’ tuition comes in. Every bar or restaurant owner has to have one – without it, you don’t have the right to open.

You can take the training anywhere in France, so we signed up to do it here in Lille. Our teacher, the owner of two épiceries in upmarket Le Touquet, was a delight – he made the training both interesting and fun.

And as you might perhaps expect, there are some quirks to the French system.

Firstly, to sell alcohol, you must have a shelf – separate from any alcohol – where you display at least ten soft drinks you have in stock. In fact, the advice was to have 11, just in case someone wanted your last bottle of Orangina or whatever.

“You can only have one bar licence for every 450 inhabitants. So we were lucky to get one in Belvès, where there are 1 400 people”

Also, you can’t run an open bar – and here’s where it gets really quirky – unless your principal aim isn’t to sell alcohol.

So, this could work at a sporting event, for example, where the cost of a VIP ticket might cover drinks. (Let’s leave aside that sports stadiums are, in theory, banned from selling alcohol.)

There’s also a law about not serving people who are visibly drunk. That’s a tough one in a bar.

Perhaps the thing we learned above all is that there’s a lot to learn when it comes to selling alcohol.

Oh, and that three days of training in a foreign language makes your brain hurt. But we did it.

I’m especially proud of Damon for having proved himself able to take the training in French and pass the test at the end. It all bodes well for the future.

Licence IV photo © France 3 Aquitaine

This entry was published on Sat, 16 Nov 2019 at 09:35. It’s filed under Food and wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “Permission granted: our permis d’exploitation

  1. Congrats! Felicitations! Welcome to the business…I think had mentioned growing up in NJ USA my father owned a bar nightclub and the laws even back then were very similar to what you mention here. Best of luck maybe a visit next summer…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have followed your blog for many years and wish k wish only to check in to wish you well. It’s inspirational to follow your journey and see where you’re at. Best wishes from GB.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bravo! Since you’ll have overnight accommodations above the shop, will those include the VIP open bar tickets you mentioned for sporting events? Guests won’t have far to go to bed, after all. Could give new meaning to B&B as in bar and breakfast!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! I’m happy for you both! Will you be serving absinthe? I’ve never had it, but the emerald liquid and sugar cube fascinate me!

    Liked by 1 person

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