The French banking system is well organized and stable. 95% of SMEs obtain at least 80% or more of the investment loans they requested. There are approximately 350 banks operating in France including 130 foreign banks. The banking sector employs around 368,000 people and maintains over 37,000 branches and 56,700 ATMs across the country. More than 98% employees are under permanent contracts. The number of payment cards in circulation equals approximately 83 million. The four largest French banks are among the top 10 banks in Europe. Below is a list of the largest and best banks in France ranked by total assets.

BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas, headquartered in Paris, is the largest bank in France and the second largest in Europe with total assets of over €2.5 trillion. The Bank’s two main business lines are Retail Banking & Services (RBS) and Corporate Institutional Banking (CIB). With operations in 73 countries, it employs more than 202,000 people including 155,000 employees in Europe, 20,290 in America, 18,700 in Asia Pacific, 10,000 in Africa and 515 in the Middle-East. BNP Paribas was named Best Private Bank in the World by Global Finance and the World’s Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility by Euromoney. As of December 24, 2019, BNP Paribas had a market capitalization of US$73 billion.

Credit Agricole

Credit Agricole Group is the second largest financial services group in France based on total assets. With over 139,000 employees and 11,000 branches worldwide, the company serves over 50 million people including 27 million retail customers in France. Credit Agricole is No.1 bancassurance group and asset manager in Europe, No.1 lender to the French economy as well as No.1 real estate investor in France. The Group includes 2,450 local banks and 39 regional banks.

Societe Generale

Founded in 1864, Societe Generale is the third biggest bank in France operating through about 2,750 domestic retail branches, Crédit du Nord and Boursorama Banque, a major online bank. It also has a presence in 38 countries with leading positions in Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal. Headquartered in Paris, the company employs 149,000 people and has an A1 rating from Moody’s. The Bank’s shares are listed on the Paris Stock Exchange and are traded in the U.S. under ADR.

BPCE

BPCE Group is a full service banking group with 7,800 branches, 30 million customers, 9 million cooperative shareholders and 106,000 employees. It operates through Banque Populaire banks, Caisses d’Epargne, Natixis, Credit Foncier, Banque Palatine and other subsidiaries. As of March 31, 2019, the Group had total assets of €1.31 trillion, loan outstandings of €495 billion and assets under management (AUM) of €882 billion including €27 billion in wealth management.

Credit Mutuel

Credit Mutuel (or Groupe Credit Mutuel) is one of the top 5 French banking institutions with 32.5 million customers, 82,000 employees, €397 billion in deposits and €467 billion in loans. The Group operates through five business segments: Retail Banking; Insurance; Corporate and Investment Banking; Asset Management and Private Banking; and other activities. Credit Mutuel - CM11 and Credit Mutuel Arkea are the main divisions of the Group.

La Banque Postale

La Banque Postale is a subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste, the national postal service. The Bank serves over 11,000 million private and business customers through over 17,000 outlets. As of June 30, 2019, it recorded total assets of 263.2 billion euros. La Banque Postale has long-term credit ratings of A- from Fitch and A from Standard & Poor's, with stable and positive outlook, respectively.

HSBC France

HSBC France is the largest foreign bank in French market in terms of total assets. With about 10,000 employees and 900,000 clients, it is a universal financial services provider offering retail and commercial banking, investment banking, private banking, wealth management as well as support for institutional investors, large corporates, and governments. HSBC France is one of the top 10 banks in the country with €39 billion in customer deposits, €45 billion in gross customer loans and €181 billion in assets. It operates as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, the largest UK financial services group.

The French banks are among the safest financial institutions in Europe. The Global Finance list of the Top 50 Safest Banks in Europe includes 10 French banks: Caisse des Depots Group, SFIL, HSBC France, BNP Paribas, Banque Federative du Credit Mutuel (BCFM), Credit Agricole, Societe Generale, BPCE, Natixis and Banque Palatine.

Opening hours of banks in France are usually between 9 am and 5 pm. Branches of La Banque Postale have working hours from 9 am until 6:30 pm.

Related articles: Foreign Banks in France

Top Banks in France by total assets

The table below shows the largest banks in France according to their assets.

Rank Bank Total assets, €b Balance sheet
1 BNP Paribas 2,372.62 30.06.2019
2 Credit Agricole 1,954.07 30.06.2019
3 Societe Generale 1,388.61 30.06.2019
4 BPCE 1,338.62 30.06.2019
5 Credit Mutuel 852.564 31.12.2018
6 La Banque Postale 263.192 30.06.2019