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French procurement guide : a little help from a French tender bid writer

French tender bid translator
French tender bids can look daunting if you don't have the know-how

There is nothing like winning a new tender contract to put a smile on a business owner’s face. The estimated yearly value of French public tenders is over 100 billion euros and I like to see my customers smile, so I have put together a simple guide to help you find, bid and win your share of this giant pool of new business.

This guide covers the following topics:

For help with your bid, please go to my article on Preparing a tender bid in French.

Unless you can speak and write business French, I strongly recommend hiring a French translator to help you with your French tender bid: they can assist with understanding the French documents and the client’s requirements and, naturally, with translating your bid.

Making sense of the French public procurement system

The tender process is designed to promote fair competition between all potential suppliers, thereby ensuring the French taxpayers’ money is spent as efficiently as possible. Similarly to the UK, the French public sector (marchés publics) follows a tendering process (appel d'offre) and awards contracts funded by public money to the supplier offering the best value and technical skills.

How to find and select French tenders?

It is useful to note that any budget below 25,000€ does not require a public tendering process. Therefore, if your business offers services likely to be used by the public sector and to be worth less than the threshold, it is worth spending some time and effort making yourself known to community and town services (mairies, préfectures, écoles…) and creating supporting documents and online content in French to help along with their internal selection process.

Budgets over 25,000 € must go through a public procurement process called Marché Public. Additionally, any project with a budget over 90,000€ must be publicised on official journals, and many below that budget take advantage of the facility, too, so it’s a good place to start.

What you need to do: browse official tender sites such as You can create notifications (alertes) to keep an eye on new notices, but to begin with it’s a good idea to just browse the site regularly. For French tender notices in English, you may want to visit but expect the DCE to be available in French only, and you will have to produce your tender bid in French, too.

French vocabulary you may need: Appel d’offre = Call to tender Date limite de réception des offres = bidding deadline Objet du marché = purpose of the tender Lieu d'exécution = place of execution Montant estimatif du marché = estimated tender value Date prévisionnelle de début des prestations = Estimated start date of the service

Useful links:

What is a French AAPC (Avis d’Appel Public à la Concurrence)?

French tender ad (AAPC)

The tender notification (Avis d’Appel Public à la Concurrence, or AAPC) summarises the tender, and should include the type of goods or services, the location, the repartition into lots or sub-lots, the process used, the specific requirements and, in some cases, the budget estimate.

What you need to do : a quick analysis of the AAPCs should allow you to sort the potential winners (your products match the requirements, the deadlines is achievable, etc) from the non-starters (location is too far, budget is too low, bidding deadline is too tight, you don’t match the requirements, etc).

How to deal with French tenders split into multiple lots ?

It is fairly common for a public tender to be split into different lots. Clients are expected to award the lots to different providers, and ou therefore stand a better chance of success if you focus your effort on the most suitable lot for your business rather than try and win it all.

How are bids reviewed and tenders awarded in France?

All bids are analysed, and each section will be marked based on the awarding criteria pre-determined by the client. The AACP normally shows the proportion of points based on economical factors and those gained from demonstrating a superior technical expertise. The client will then award the contract to the best candidate and give detailed feedback to the other contenders. If you win, you may have to provide documents proving what you promised in your bid. If you don't win, this is your chance to learn from your potential mistakes and to improve your offer in your next bid.

Specific tenders criteria for the tender depend on the industry. In particular, defence, security and health contracts are subject to stringent criteria.

Winning French tenders starts with trial and error. You may not win bids straight away, but it’s worth persevering. If you're ready to bid, read my article on Preparing your French tender bid (mémoire technique).

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