Getting set up as a Massage Therapist in France


We're recently moved the my hubby's hometown of Albi in the Tarn with our young family. We're starting to get ourselves established... at a much slower pace to our previous life in London and I am researching how to transfer my qualifications as a Massage Therapist and set up my practice here in Albi and/or in nearby Toulouse.

Finding it difficult to find a definitive route, which is to be expected... and so I was wondering if anyone is able to share any words of wisdom based on their own experiences in pursuing this type of work successfully here in France.

I have read some of the previous posts on this forum and have done other research regarding the differences in terms of culture, not calling myself a 'massage therapist' etc. And so, my questions are more specific about some of the business/employment side of things... and some of this may not be specific to massage, but other similar small businesses.

1. Pros and Cons to Micro Entrepreneur vs Profession Libérale? Are there other realistic options for someone starting out a new business/one man band?

2. Are there recommendations for professional insurances? We use MAIF for our car etc, but they don't do anything for this area of work. I also know of MĂ©dinat - Groupe Alians, but I would like to be able to compare with others... if others exist.

3. Do I need to or is it beneficial to be part of a 'professional organisation of massage therapists'? I have come across FFMBE, but they don't seem to have a huge membership base... Are their others? Is it relevant?

Many thanks in advance for taking the time to respond!

Hi Alex

Thanks for your message and sharing your experience. I'm certainly not dissuaded, every situation is different, and although I don't want to push on with my head in the sand, I also need to try to find the constructive feedback/input from others own experiences, to help me to avoid the same final fate.

I'm not involved in remedial or sports work, which I can imagine is challenging in the face of kinos & physios... My training is in Holistic Massage, and I have come to terms with practicing under the title 'bien etre', what's in a name anyway? Surely, if you are good at what you do (and you phrase it correctly and find your market(s)), your business will grow.

I have left another 'profession' with many years of experience behind when we moved to France and will be starting afresh with my massage endeavour, and so, not that my expectations are low (cuz they are not) but I don't have to 'change my ways' to fit into a new box/way/approach/professional culture... I'm not feeling jaded or cheated that my qualifications don't transfer exactly (I'm not the first expat to have to restart...), and I have set a reasonable time frame to give this my all, after which I will reflect, and (re)evaluate my prospects.

If your wife has the time and is willing, I'd be keen to have a chat (maybe on the phone) to get some constructive support or hear some of her lessons learned... if she is so willing... I would greatly appreciate.

And if anyone else reading this post wants a 'good non-therapeutic massage', drop me a line, I'm in the Albi/ Toulouse area. ;)


My wife is/was a remedial sports massage therapist, and her qualifications are not recognised here in France...needless to say, making a living of practising massage in France when the "established corporatism" of the French physios weighs in against anything you do is incredibly hard, plus the weight of administration behind setting up as a profession liberale, and in the end she gave up and pursued a career as a teacher instead. It is unfortunate that France still takes a rather dim view of the benefits of qualified therapists, irrespective of their origins, but especially so of citizens from other EU states. There would no doubt be cause for a case with the ECJ, but that would take time, money and effort, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the corporatist interests would fight it all the way to prevent the market from being opened up.

The reason why others have no doubt stressed the need for careful wording is that local physios keep an eye on anyone who sets themselves up as a "masseur", and are quite agressive when it comes to getting out the "beating sticks" - for them, it is a simple matter to file a complaint for "illegal practice of medicine" and then you find yourself bogged down in a lawsuit just as you're trying to get off the ground.

If none of this dissuades you from setting up your business, then I sincerely hope you can make a go of it. France really does need to change in this area, good luck !!

I hear it closed last year…

France certainly needs massage therapists but... my physio and doctors all said they don't exist in France. That type of massage (in fact anything that merits the term massage) is not available. Heh? Any 'massage' I've had from physio has been pathetic, useless, superficial and achieved nothing except irritating things. So far I have experienced rubbish from the professionals. A really good therapeutic/sorts massage/deep tissue massage would be wonderful but in six years I've never found one. I had lots of good ones in NZ. I don't understand this attitude.

Jennifer (we used to live near you - but now we're in Provence...)

There's an English / Brit Shop in a town called LAVAUR, not far from you. Very popular with expats and ladies who lunch. When you're up and running and advertising it'd be a great place for flyers - and probably to check out any English speaking competition.

We used to have great difficulty finding English speaking Yoga/Massage/Fitness instructors for our holidaying clients here - I have someone now, but I think you have a great idea... Good luck. x teresa

CFE in those cases is usually the minimum flat rate, back in 2012 it was 200€ (max being 2000€ at the time).

Thanks Helen for the FB group, I have sent my request. I'm well aware of the phrasing of my activity. It seems to be the 'thing' that everyone tells me about. And thanks for clarifying the PL status, I think AE will be my starting point, as I believe this will fit my business model for the next little while.

Question about how the CFE is calculated when my business might be a mix of in private homes, workplaces and from a small local clinic (or 2)... Any thoughts on that one?



Hi Andrew, thanks for the advice.

Indeed, Carmaux is just up the road.

I kind of knew the general process, as I have been thinking about it all at a distance for some time. I'm thinking that auto entrepreneur will be a good starting point, and now learning that professionelle libérale is a type of AE. This forum has been very helpful on many fronts! Glad that we found it.

Our girls are 15mths & 3 1/2yrs. Eldest was in bilingual nursery in London before here, and I would say is fitting in very well at her new French school. We plan to speak English at home, my French is still 'improving'. :)

If you are on facebook might I suggest joining the group Ladies In Business In France - a couple of massage therapists there already. It's a very grey area and you need to be very careful on the phrasing of your activity - certain types of therapy are classed as medical and you will struggle to get recognised to practise.

Profession liberale is just one of the catagories of the micro entrepreneur - benefits of micro entrepreneur versus other business statuses - lower cotisations paid only on income as opposed to a set minimum amout regardless of chiffre d'affaires however no deductions can be made and you should be aware that cfe tax would be due on the surface area used for your work. This figure depends on your commune and there is a minimum amount to pay - I use a pc on the corner of the table and will be charged the min 300€ rate for my commune this year

Hello, we're neighbours, well almost - I run a tabac in Carmaux. I think your first step is to check if your qualifications are recognised here - check with professional bodies or the CCI. Once you know whether you can trade or under what conditions/title, then look at the business set up. It may well be best to start as an auto entrepreneur to begin with whilst setting things up and getting a client base (I was an auto entrepreneur for 4 years (translating and teaching (IUT, CCI) but stopped in 2012 when I bought the tabac, others here will be able to give you more up to date info). That way you'll only pay charges sociales and tax on what you turn over/earn and not a forfait of upto 5000€ a year regardless of whether you trade/make any money or not - France is way different to the UK but I guess your OH has already warned you about that! My OH is french too, I met her here and we now have kids, 8 and 6, who understand a bit of English but not much :-( what age are yours? what languages?

Ă  +

Hi Jennifer. I just came across your post. I too have recently relocated to France (Ardeche 07) with my French husband and two small children, about the same age as yours were last year! Just wondering how you made out? I’m about to embark on the same process and have no idea where to start!

Hi @Jennifer_Sirknee,

I just came across this page, as me and my french partner planning to move to Normandy within the next 2 years, near my partners family. Me coming from a technology background I will go through a career change and for now I am looking at massage therapy to start with.

I wanted to reach out to you and have some update in terms of setting up your business, how well it went? Just to learn on best practices and no does.

I am looking to learn thai massage directly in thailand and use that as my first skill, then on would like to understand reflexology and deep tissue massage (this is my actual specialty rigth now as per my partner). Combine that with yoga teaching and may even concider fisio for the long run. But for now it is very much a business case up in the air. Do you know of any publications to give some guidance?

As per the language itself, I have started a course, so at an early stage of preparation, but i understand its a must! :slight_smile:

Hope to hear from you soon


This is how you become a masseur-physio

Devenir Masseur kinésithérapeute : formation nécessaire
Pour devenir kinésithérapeute, il vous faudra obtenir le diplôme d’État de masseur-kinésithérapeute. Pour cela, il est préférable d’avoir un bac scientifique. Vous vous orienterez ensuite vers une formation de trois ans (bac+3) à laquelle il est possible d’accéder soit par concours d’entrée dans chaque école visée (inscription jusqu’en février-mars), soit après avoir validé, en faculté de médecine, une première année commune aux études de santé (PACES). Pour se préparer au mieux au concours d’entrée en école de kinésithérapie, beaucoup d’étudiants préfèrent suivre une année préparatoire.

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Merci @vero I was also directed to here this gives a good guide. Hope it will help others too.