Being in France without going in the French shops is an unthinkable thing, because it’s in markets and shops that the identity of the region you are in, is expressed the most.
The shopkeepers adapt to the rhythms change of the life. In the centre of big towns, the shops are open without interruption and close only one day per week (most of the time the Sunday). On the other hand, early in the afternoon and the usually Monday close are globally respected in small tows and villages.
In Paris, it’s totally different: you can find something to eat even after midnight in specific grocers, while big shops offers to their clients one late-night opening per week. Some shops are even open the Sunday, in particular in the tourist districts the days before Christmas.
The fortune of the big French Shops in Paris was born in the middle of the last century. The most famous are “Le Printemps”, “Les Galeries Lafayette”, “Le Bon Marché”, “Le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville” (more know with the “BHV”), “la Samaritaine” and “Les Nouvelles Galeries”. Most of them possess branches in the big province towns and sometimes abroad.
More modest, “Monoprix” and “Prisunic” are signs well known by French people.
A low protected the small shopkeeper forbid to the supermarket to be install in town centre, it have to be in the suburbs. The hypermarket phenomenon, which had completely change de distribution in France, was initiated in 1963 by “Carrefour”. Now, on the French market, “Carrefour”, “Leclerc” “Champion” and “Auchan” deliver a war without pity.
Following a concept from Germany, this distributors offers a limited range of low quality food products but with unbeatable prices. ”Leader Price” “Ed” and “Liddl” are the three most famous discounters in France.
Chains of Stores
Some French Shops like hypermarkets avec a lot of branches, being specialised, have asset a situation of quasi monopoly, because the small detailers, unable to offer the same price and choice, have closed one after the other.
The “Fnac” and “Virgin” proliferation explain the very small number of records dealers, as the “Leroy Merlin” and “Castorama” for the small stores of do-it-yourself.
For as much, the hypermarket didn’t make disappear the small trade, even if a lot of specialised shops have to send upmarket model to survive and fight the competition. In the centre of big towns, the window-shopping stays a real pleasure.
However, the cheesemongers, delicatessen, pastry makings, pork-butcheries and fish shops still have beautiful days in front of them. You will buy some untraceable specialities, as well as tempting soil products.
Covered or has open sky, the market is one of the charm as well as a unchanging tradition. Each locality possesses is own market. To go to the market, you have to be morning (it’s dismantle around 12h – 13h) and not being afraid to be in crowed area.
Don’t stop only in front of the large stalls, because to shopkeeper who sells only two or three product will offer you the best quality to the better price.
The law impose to the shopkeeper to indicate where do come from their products. Some local products are indicated as being from the country and specific labels identify some. A last advice: respect the rhythm of the seasons.
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