Food shopping in France - what's the best way to buy groceries in France?
Shopping in France is a way of life, whether for everyday groceries or something special, and is a great way to socialise.
Shopping in France is not vastly different to shopping in the UK, but opening times vary, and you will often find that this is a more social pastime in France, particularly in the more rural areas, where it is normal to build a relationship with the staff and owners of local shops as you while away the hours browsing boutiques or local markets.
Shop opening times in France
Shops in France are usually open on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9am to 7pm, with a break from 12pm to 2 or 3pm for lunch. You will soon discover that not many shops are open on Mondays in France. Smaller shops can only be open for those five days a week, but the larger supermarkets, hypermarkets, and department stores in the larger towns and cities are usually open throughout lunchtime and on Sunday and Monday mornings. These will usually be open from around 8.30am to 8pm.
You will soon discover that not many shops are open on Mondays in France.
Opening hours on Sundays will generally depend on particular shops and specific areas, but you will usually find the local baker, or boulangerie, is open throughout the morning for everyone to get their daily bread on their way home from church. Sunday opening in other shops is more likely to be in the afternoons, after the traditional church service times. Shops were not traditionally allowed to open on Sundays, but a law was passed in parliament in 2009, which allowed shops to open in the important tourist areas and the major cities of Paris, Lille and Marseille. You may also find shops open during the Christmas shopping season, alongside the specialist Christmas markets.
Traditional French markets
Much of the local shopping is focused around the French markets – a historical tradition that still stands the test of time in France. It is one of the unique pleasures of life in France to stroll around the various markets, eyeing up the fresh produce, or hunting for a bargain at a flea market or brocante stall. The joys of a well-stocked local market and vintage shopping in the local area have become popular throughout the UK in recent years – in France, this form of shopping has always been popular and has been an integral part of the lifestyle for centuries.
It is one of the unique pleasures of life in France to stroll around the various markets, eyeing up the fresh produce, or hunting for a bargain at a flea market or brocante stall.
It’s worth noting that local pharmacies follow the same opening hours as other shops, and do not traditionally stay open all hours, although in the towns there is likely to be at least one pharmacy that stays open in the evenings and on Sundays. There are also a few 24 hour pharmacies to be found in the larger towns and cities. This is worth factoring in when you are planning the most convenient areas for you to shop in, especially if you have any specific medical requirements.
In the rural areas of France, shopping is very sociable. It is normal to enter a local shop and say ‘bonjour’ to both the shop owner and the other customers. The French usually keep a relatively personal relationship with their local shopkeepers, prompting a better service.
Glossary of popular French shopping words Supermarket: supermarché Hypermarket: hypermarché Bakers: boulangerie Butchers: boucherie Grocers: épicerie Cake and pastry shop: patisserie Wine merchants: marchand de vins Pharmacy: pharmacie Clothes shop: magasin de vêtements Tobacconists: un tabac Newsagents: maison de la presse Bookshop : librairie DIY shop: magasin de bricolage
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