Shopping in France is a delightful experience, particularly
in the smaller towns and villages, where a number of authentic and independent
stores still operate. If you decide to visit the shops while youre staying at
our luxury gites in France, however, you may get caught out and find that they
are not open for as long as they are in the UK. Make sure your trip to the
shops isnt a wasted one with our guide to shopping in France.
Traditionally, shops in France are open from Monday to
Saturday. However, youll find that in general the shops are not open all day
long, closing for lunch between around 12pm and 2pm. Usually, shops opening
times are 9am to 12pm, then 2pm to 7pm, especially in smaller towns and
In order to increase footfall, however, you may find that
some stores in small towns have shortened their lunchtime closing period, for
instance between 12.30pm and 1.45pm. That said, it is gradually becoming less
of an exception for a store to be open all day in larger stores, which include
those in urban shopping centres and large out-of-town shopping areas.
Supermarkets and superstores
If youre in need of groceries, fortunately many of the out
of town supermarkets and superstores (centre commerciaux) do not close for
lunch. Generally, they are open all day long, from 7am right through to 7 or
8pm (or sometimes later). Among the major supermarket chains in France are
Carrefour, SuperU, Auchan and E.Leclerc.
In order to cater to the lunchtime crowd, bakeries close
slightly later for lunch, typically between 1pm and 3pm. There is no hard and
fast rule, however, and each bakery is free to decide its own opening times.
Many in fact stay open well into the evening, especially if they have plenty of
bread left to sell.
As a general rule, shops in France do not open on Sundays.
There are of course exceptions shops in the major cities such as Paris, as
well as in major tourist areas are allowed to open on Sundays, while many
supermarkets also open for a few hours during the morning. Certain times of the
year can also mean that more shops are open on Sundays, such as the lead-up to
the Christmas season and during the tourist season.
These are very few and far between, as France has not yet
followed in the footstep of the UKs and US 24-hour culture. One exception is
the pharmacy, which is sometimes open 24 hours a day in case of medical
Though many pharmacies operate just like the shops, it is
also common in towns for there to be a pharmacie de garde, which is open on
Sundays and at night. In towns with several pharmacies, there tends to be a
rota system determining which pharmacy will be open in these off-peak hours.
24-hour pharmacies can also be found in the large towns, which are useful for
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