France is among the top shopping destinations in the world. There are shops and stores to suit every shopper’s needs, and you can find everything here, from wines and cheese to high-end fashion. France also has its own traditional handicrafts, which are still produced in many villages. Products like handmade pottery and glass make great souvenirs and gifts. Expats who are just settling into life in France also need to know where to buy essential goods like groceries and household items. Here’s our guide to shopping in France.
Shops and supermarkets
Several small shops and supermarkets with a variety of everyday goods and foods can be found in every town and city center. International foods from other countries can also be found at many of them.Some of the popular supermarkets in France include Carrefour, Auchan, E.Leclerc and Géant Casino. Local markets are the places to go if you want to buy fresh and affordable vegetables, seafood and meat. The shopping areas and stores in city centers also provide household supplies, electrical goods, furniture and clothing.
French fashion is known for its top high-end labels like Chanel, Hermes and Dior. There are lesser-known brands as well and many up and coming designers have become highly popular with local and international shoppers. Most of these fashion brands are headquartered in Paris and have their main stores in the city. The famous Champs-Élysées is the abode of all the top fashion houses. For more affordable clothing, head to the main department stores or fashion boutique chains. Jewelry shopping is best done at the Marais shopping district in Paris where you can also find some trendy boutiques. If you’re just in the mood for some window-shopping, there are no better places than Place Vendome, Rue de Rivoli arcade, Rue Cambon.
A great experience to have in France is a visit to a brocante or flea market. These typically French markets can be a good place to find unique souvenirs and other items. Some of the best flea markets in Paris include the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, Marche aux Puces de Montreuil and the Marche aux Puces flea market de la Porte de Vanves near Montparnasse. You can spend an entire day hopping from one brocante t the next via the Metro. Just outside of Paris, in Lille, is the Braderie de Lille flea market held over two days. The market has nearly 62 miles of sellers selling everything from vintage clothes to artwork. In Orléans, there’s a flea market every Saturday morning where you can find more rustic items on sale such as winemaking equipment and fishing rods. At Allées Jules Guesde in Toulouse, head over to the monthly flea market where you can get your hands on some exquisite French porcelain. The weekly flea market in Lyon draws shoppers interested in buying vintage kitchenware and antique furniture.
Online shopping has gained much popularity in France. Many of the French supermarkets and stores have their own websites. There are also shopping sites that have an exclusive online presence. The advantage of online shopping is the ease and convenience of the process. However, if you’re going to be living in France for a limited period of time, it’s best to get out there and explore the country’s shopping options.
Paying for your shopping
Most shops, except maybe for the small convenience stores, accept credit cards. All international modern chip and pin cards are accepted. You may be able to pay for your shopping using travellers cheques at the large department stores. Shops also accept French cheques as long as you have identification.
Shops in France are generally open six days a week, from 9am to noon, and then from 2pm to 7pm in the evening. Larger department stores in urban areas tend to stay open through noon as well. Supermarkets like Carrefour, Leclerc and the others do not shut for lunch and also open earlier at 8.30am. In France, shops usually stay closed on Sundays. But this changes during the Christmas shopping weekends, where they open in the afternoons. 24-hour shops and stores are a rarity in France. Very few shops, usually only some pharmacies, stay open 24/7.