Are you moving to France or planning on buying a house in the country? If so, you might be on a tight budget and therefore some tips on grocery shopping could come in handy. In a country like France where there are over 10,000 French grocery stores, knowing which one is the cheapest supermarket is tricky. We’ve created a list of the cheapest supermarkets in France, with information about where they are located and helpful tips you should know.
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What to know about supermarkets in France
Before we get into the list, there’s some important information to know about supermarkets in France. First, opening hours. Unlike other countries, French supermarkets tend to close much earlier, around 8 pm. Traditionally, they do not open on Sundays or bank holidays, but that has changed in recent years and many supermarkets are open on Sunday morning. Secondly, many big French supermarkets like Carrefour offer smaller and more expensive stores in the city. They use different names like Carrefour Express or Carrefour City. One final thing to point out is that you can’t buy medicine or cigarettes in French supermarkets and you will be charged if you need shopping bags.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lidl is one of the cheapest supermarkets in France. This German discount chain is famous across Europe for its selection of cheap products. Items are displayed in cardboard boxes and there are special weekly offers.
Although Lidl doesn’t offer as many branded products as other supermarkets, it does have its own branded items at a significantly cheaper price. There are currently over 1500 Lidl stores in France, including around 15 stores in Paris. It is one of the cheapest supermarkets in Paris. This is great because the city lacks space to offer large hypermarkets, so Lidl is a great way to access cheap products without having to head to the suburbs.
2. E. Leclerc
E. Leclerc is a French hypermarket chain that first opened in 1949. There are around 700 stores in France and it is often considered one of the cheapest supermarkets in the country. Most of its French grocery stores are found outside the main cities. A word of warning, however: A study showed that Leclerc’s prices were higher in Île-de-France (the region where Paris is located) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
Interesting fact: Leclerc outraged French citizens when it announced that it would sell a baguette for 29 cents. This staple product is much more expensive in other supermarkets and bakers, but Leclerc wanted to make it accessible for everyone. However, critics pointed out that selling it for such a low price would penalize small bakers and would mean selling at a loss.
Aldi is another German supermarket chain that has taken the French market by storm. It is Lidl’s main competitor and is set up in a similar way. It also has roughly the same number of stores, with over 1400 in France. The brand itself aims to make shopping simple and affordable, which is why it is such a hit in France.
Auchan is a French supermarket that has almost 2000 stores in the country. Like Leclerc, most of Auchan’s supermarkets and hypermarkets are located outside the main cities. The advantage of this is that its French grocery stores are very big and can therefore offer lower prices. In 2019, it was named the second-largest supermarket in France.
5. Other French grocery options
Aside from these cheap supermarkets, we’d also like to mention some other food options in the country.
One of the most popular and common places to buy food is markets. Almost every town and village in the country will have its own local market, offering produce from local farmers, independent retailers and more. In general, prices are fairly cheap and the products are of good quality.
You can also buy directly from local farms that offer fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs and chicken. Ask around your local area or keep an eye out for signs that say vente directe de fruits et légumes (direct sale of fruit and veg).
If you’re looking for bread or cheese, it’s very common in France to go to the local boulangerie (baker) or fromagerie (cheese shop). The quality is much better than French supermarkets. However, the price is usually more expensive, especially for cheese.
All in all, food shopping in France is great fun because of the incredible options available. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still eat good, healthy and yummy food without breaking the bank. It’s time to go shopping and feast like a king but on a pauper’s budget!
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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.