- the connoisseur's guide to France
shop, when to shop and other useful tips
index: Click a link
food and wine and more.
Check out some French
stores that deliver to your country
study recently showed prices in French shops to
the lowest in Europe; and perhaps, if you are buying a cross-section of
everyday goods, they are. But tourists do not shop like locals, so the
price advantage of France may not be so obvious to visitors. Besides,
shops selling to tourists are notorious worldwide for high prices, and
France is no exception.
However the Euro has fallen in value against the
over the past ten years, and with the exchange rate standing at around
1.12 USD to a Euro in Spring 2019, prices in France are
for many international visitors. This is not however so true for
visitors from the UK, on account of the fall in the value of Sterling
amid worries about the UK's future after Brexit.
Shopping is a major part of the tourist experience
in France, specially in Paris, and each
year millions of tourists visit
France and make a point of heading for the shops at some time during
stay. This page offers general and useful information for tourists
intending to do some shopping while on holiday in France.
and sales tax (TVA) :
As is the custom throughout Europe, prices displayed in shops
France always include sales tax ("la TVA" - value added tax).
price you see on the label is the price you will be charged -
which can be a pleasant surprise for American or Canadian visitors.
opening times in France:
The traditional French shopping week comprises six days, Monday to
Saturday, with shops generally open from 9 a.m. to Midday, and 2 p.m.
to 7 p.m. In towns and villages, it is still the rule that shops close
However things are changing, and in
urban shopping areas, most
department stores now operate what is called "la journée
do not close at midday. Out-of-town supermarkets in France also tend to
stay open at lunchtime, and depending on the town or district,
other shops in large urban or suburban shopping centres also
Many smaller shops have reduced their
midday closing period, and now shut from, for example, 12.30 to 1.45 -
in order to catch office workers who have free time during their midday
Out of town supermarkets and superstores - for instance Carrefour,
Leclerc, Auchan, Casino, SuperU
do not usually close for lunch. They
generally open from 8.30 a.m. (or earlier) until 8 p.m. (or later);
large stores in out-of-town shopping centres often close a bit earlier
in the evening, often at 7 p.m.
For Sunday opening and other exceptions, see below.
speaking, shops do not
in France on Sundays; however the rules have changed in recent years,
and now across France you will find supermarkets, DIY and gardening
shops open on Sunday morning. In tourist areas the rules are more
flexible, and all sorts of shops can now stay open all day. In Paris
for instance, the big department stores and shops in the main shopping
areas and malls now stay open all day on Sunday, though sometimes with
shorter opening hours.
Even more shops are open on Sundays during the Christmas
, and Sunday has become one of the busy
Monday shopping in France:
In small towns, and even in cities, many shops may be closed on Monday
morning; some small shops may be closed all day Monday. However it is
unusual for out-of-town shopping malls and supermarkets to be closed on
opening in France:
Don't expect to find this. The idea runs contrary to the French
tradition, and there are very few shops indeed that remain open round
the clock, except some pharmacies (see below).
Bakeries often stay open at the start of the midday break, and close
from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., though there is no rule, and each bakery is free
to decided its own opening times. similarly, many bakeries stay open
later in the evening, specially in towns, and if they have bread left
to sell. See the guide to French bread.
Luminous green sign outside a pharmacy
Pharmacies open and close like other small shops; however, in
there is usually a "pharmacie de garde" or two open each Sunday too,
and sometimes even at night. In towns with several pharmacies, a rota
system usually operates, and it is easy to see a pharmacy which is
open, as its green cross will be lit.; but in small towns, where there
are perhaps just one or two pharmacies, it may be necessary to ring the
bell for service, particularly in the event of a night-time emergency.
In large towns, there are always some pharmacies open 24/24 : to see
where they are on a given date, consult local media for rotas or try
googling for "pharmacie de garde + name of town"
(supermarchés) and superstores (hypermarchés)
The main national chains:
supermarkets and hypermarkets
- The giants:
Carrefour, Auchan, E.Leclerc,
Casino. These stores
sell virtually everything useful for everyday living.
or neighbourhood "hypers":
Super-U, Carrefour Market , Simply , Cora, Casino,
supermarkets / department stores:
Monoprix , Galeries
- Hard Discount:
Leader Price, Ed, Aldi, Lidl,
- with the exception of some hard discount stores - carry a full range
of food, including masses of fresh vegetables, a big selection of wines
and spirits, and local specialities. Though for fresh vegetables and
fruit, the shopping experience is much more enjoyable in real markets,
which can be found in all towns and cities, though not necessarily
other than food, found in out-of-town shopping
malls (this is by no means a complete list):
Sportswear: Decathlon, Sport 2000, Intersport
Computer equipment: Boulanger
Furniture, white goods: Darty, But, Conforama, Maisons du Monde
Clothing: Kiabi, la Halle aux Vêtements, Orchestra
DIY : Castorama, Leroy Merlin, Brico Dépot, Monsieur
top French fashion houses such as Yves St. Laurent, Chanel or Dior
have their own boutiques in Paris (see Champs
: they also retail through major department stores in Paris and through
their boutiques in other main cities and up market resorts like
Courchevel or Saint Tropez.
For those looking for affordable
French fashion stores, for young or old, France has plenty of choice
through a range of brands available in main department stores, or
through fashion boutique chains present in most city centres and many
out-or-town shopping malls; these include Alain Manoukian, Jules, Mexx,
Naf-naf, Kookaï, Pimkie, Brice, Petit Bateau, and
outlet malls in France
has a couple of dozen factory outlet malls, mostly in northern
France. Of particular interest to holidaymakers from the UK
Benelux are the Usine Côte d'Opale factory outlet
Coquelles next to the Channel tunnel exit, two factory outlet centres
at Troyes, near the A26
motorway from Calais to the south of France (fashion, household
appliances), or the La Seguiniere Factory Outlet at Cholet, in the
Loire Valley close to Vendée. For more details and
addresses, visit MarquesAvenue.com
to shop in Paris:
from the Place de la Concorde, past the Louvre, to central Paris) and
the central end of Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, one block
north. This the area with the most chic shops in Paris.
These days most of the shops on the Champs Elysées are
for large international chains, from Hugo Boss to Disney to Zara, and
the inevitable McDonalds - plus a few very chic shops, but beware of
the prices. With the a few exceptions such as Lacoste, Sephora, Cartier
and Louis Vuitton, French stores have been pushed out; the major French
fashion stores and perfume
however are not far away, many of them on Avenue
Montaigne (Dior, Chanel etc.). Avenue Montaigne meets the Champs
Elysées at the level of Franklin D Roosevelt metro station.
On or near the Boulevard
near the Opéra. This is the main boulevard for the big
stores, including Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, la Samaritaine, C
(Boulevard St. Michel): book stores, including
Gilbert, the biggest in Paris.
Halles / le Marais
the lower end of the Rue de Rivoli; fashionable French and
international chainstores, and trendy outlets. The "Forum des Halles",
a large urban shopping mall, has outlets for virtually all the
off-the-peg fashion retailers present in France, both French such as
Kookaï, Camaïeu, Comtoir des Cotonniers, Naf-Naf,
Esprit or Jules, and
international including Benetton, Gap and Quiksilver.
in other French towns and cities.
towns and cities:
town centres remain among the principal shopping areas, with the more
select boutiques and shops, including up-market and mid-market national
chains and franchises. Out-of-town shopping malls offer the big hypers,
as well as a range of small shops, mostly mid-market popular chains, in
all fields from clothing, footwear and music, to opticians and
accessories. Many out of town hypermarkets are open until 9 p.m.
centre: the Carrefour and Tesco outlets in this large shopping centre
next to the Channel tunnel terminal have long opening hours, 8.30 a.m
to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
Alpes Maritimes, Provence. Capital of the French
. Buy top quality perfumes direct from the
in rural France.
While supermarkets and hypermarkets are the main retail outlets for
everyday shopping throughout France, small traditional groceries, even
completely independent mom-and-pop stores, still survive in old towns
and particularly in small country towns. It is still possible, here and
there, to come across a traditional grocers shop, a relic of byegone
days, where the proprietor serves you from a range of essential
supplies stacked up on old wooden shelves or small refrigerated units.
For some it can be a completely novel experience, for others a trip
down memory lane; and for most visitors, it will certainly be journey
through time and a memorable moment .
for things in France :
virtually all but the very smallest shops, such as neighbourhood
convenience stores, accept credit cards and debit cards, notably Visa
and Mastercard. In virtually all cases, foreign cards, including UK
cards, are accepted in France as long as they are of the more
modern chip and pin variety; old-fashioned swipe cards may not be
accepted. Contactless cards can be used for small purchases,
generally limited to 20€ or 30€.
department stores in cities may take travellers' cheques, otherwise
most shops accept French cheques as long as the customer has ID. All
shops accept cash (euros) - which can be obtained from any French ATM
as long as you have a valid card from one of the main international
operators (Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, etc.)
See the markets of France
Here are the
French words for common types of shop:
useful shopping phrases .....
Grocery store: épicerie (eh-pee-siree)
Bakers: boulangerie (boo-lonje-euree)
Cake shop: patisserie (pat-ee-seurie)
Butchers: boucherie (boo-sheuree)
Chemists: pharmacie (farm-assee)
Cobblers, shoe repairer: cordonnerie (cordonn-eurie)
Tobacconists: un tabac (ta-back)
Bookshop : librairie (lee-brair-ree)
DIY store: magasin de bricolage (mag-a-zann
Clothes shop: magasin de vêtements (mag-a-zann
Wine merchants: marchand de vins (mar-shone
Estate agents: agence immobilière (a-zhonse
Newsagents: maison de la presse (may-zon
de la press)
I'd like to...
Je voudrais (Zhe
voodray ... )
Pay by card : payer par carte (peh-yeh
Pay in cash: payer en liquide (peh-yeh
Can I try this on please... Est-ce
que je peux l'essayer, s'il vous plait. (Esker
zhe per l'ess-say-yeh
see voo play)
It's too big / small : C'est trop grand / petit (Say
tro gron / petee)
It's for a gift : C'est à offrir (Say
tar off rir)
Please can you wrap it up : pouvez vous
l'emballer s'il vous plaît (poovay
voo l'om-balay see voo play)
Please can you gift wrap this: pouvez vous faire un emballage cadeau,
s'il vous plaît (poo-vay
voo fair ern om-balarge cado see voo play)