Where to find stuff in France

Hope you don’t mind me posting this here, but I follow a couple who blog about living in Carcassonne, and today they posted this about finding equivalent shops in France to the ones they used in the US.

I’ve of course seen similar info here on SF. Now there may already be a thread lurking about this, if so feel free to remove this. If not, I think it could be helpful to us newbies to collect your wisdom in one place. :blush:

Heavens, the blog tells you more than you’ll probably get here (especially as it’s from a US perspective)

When we first arrived here (15 years ago) the main shock for us re shopping was that any small or specialist shop closes at lunchtime for 2 hours. So we’d set out at 11am after a leisurely start to the day wanting to buy lampshades, door handles and a couple of potting plants and find that within an hour everything was closing down . All the big supermarkets and some of the big DIY stores stay open over lunchtime, but not our local DIY store, or our bio shop (who don’t reopen until 2.30) or the chemists, or the petrol stations (frustrating if you want to buy a gas bottle).
Also, more specialist shops - like our local Gamm Vert and all the brico places and the garden centre and the bio shop - tend to close at 6:30 or 7:00pm. We’re retired so this isn’t really an issue for us but I don’t know how people who work fulltime in France actually cope.
We quickly learnt to make better use of our day (and get to know specific closing times, like the pharmacy that opens at 8.30 and closes at 12.30) if we wanted to get stuff done.
I love shopping in our local supermarkets at lunchtime as many French still believe lunchtime is for eating lunch.
Sundays here have become less sacred over the years - so our local supermarkets are now open Sunday mornings and places like Gifi and Centrakor are often open Sunday afternoon - but there’s still none of the craziness of Sunday shopping like we get in the UK where everywhere is open all the time and the world, his wife and three children are all out for the day.
I’m now resigned to not buying everything in one place, so Leclerc does most food, some clothing, a goodly chunk of DIY and kitchen bits and pieces. But I will often also have to go into our local Brico store for more “serious” DIY stuff and then into the Bio shop for their superb turmeric roots and OH’s porridge oats, and then maybe Lidl because they do the best rye bread. Clothing - I have no idea where to shop, but then I live in gardening clothes and I haven’t been in a posh clothes shop in 15 years!


Jim is happy to look like an eccentric English man in his old gardening clothes too.

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When I step outside the door these days I’m mainly in gardening gear myself!

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Courtesy of a French friend we now try to “put our heels on” before stepping into a shop. We were out walking with her and I said I needed to pop into the chemist on the way back. She looked at me with carefully disguised horror, and said she didn’t mind waiting while I popped home to put my heels on first.

The only shop I would like to have an equivalent to here is waitrose,


That is possibly one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

What is so ridiculous? That a French women wants to go home to change out of walking clothes and muddy boots to go into town……not something I would ever bother to do as I am quite scruffy….but not ridiculous!


A matter of self respect.

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There was a furore over an attempt made by Oprah Winfrey and crew to enter an Hermès emporium on the Faubourg Honoré in Paris. It was closing, so faux pas un, and the group was large and dressed like hot American tourists, which they actually were.

Of course there was a huge indignant outcry almost immediately afterwards from the other side of the pond, with of course racism selected as the reason. I felt quite sure it wasn’t.

The showroom ladies in Paris, not just at that establishment, are fabulously ‘difficult’. Everyone, and I mean everyone who doesn’t want to be treated like dust that blew in, dresses well to enter. With jewellery of tge Cartier kind, not Christmas cracker. Even Chinese social media instructed comrades to carry an Hermès bag. A genuine Hermès bag for visits.

When in Rome (Paris)….

The grossly offended Ms Winfrey was invited back, by M. Dumas I think it was, for a very private tour of the showroom and museum. She ended up somewhat mollified. Not sure about other visitors given the snake eye


I agree @JaneJones and I remember a time in the UK when women dressed up to go into town. It’s part of the culture and is why we can usually spot a Brit when out shopping because of the level of scruffiness.

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And men. Also, to go to the theatre!

This is something I love about the Portuguese. Even abroad, they dress for dinner and other social occasions. Gentlemen all in blazers for summer but so nice to see the effort.

I’m all for doing your own thing, but I must admit, when people here in the UK started going to the supermarket in their pyjamas, I did ponder what happened when they trailed their PJ bottoms in muck or dog poo :thinking:

It comes off on the sheets Lalla😀

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I hope that never live long enough to see a Target or Walmart on French soil.

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Why is that?

100% full of cheap Chinese crap.

I love window shopping… and OH would readily agree to take me shopping on a Monday… it took me a while to figure out why he looked so chirpy… :wink: :roll_eyes:

So many of the fabulous stores would be closed and I would be left to gain solace in the larger supermarkets… :rofl: :rofl:

Given Carrefour was a for a brief time time second biggest retailer on earth, just behind Walmart and closing fast (before things went south very quickly, I think they’re 6th now?), duelling it out for the number 2 spot with Tesco I think, I don’t think we need an American s*itstain of a terrible retailer on french soil selling Chinese crap, we have our own doing a very good job at emulating them.

Walmart sell guns in the US. Dunno, think the French might be up for it.

Sounds like they were too generous, to me.

The issue would be the closing time. They can actually be a little tolerant of other things on a good day. Though I’m going back to pre-Bercy times. They know who’s who and can size up spending power, and other more important things, before your right foot has hit the mat on the way in. But hours matter.

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