Inside city centers, you will find smaller stores, chain grocery stores (Casino) as well as, occasionally, department stores and small shopping malls. Residential areas will often have small supermarkets (Champion, Intermarché). Large supermarkets (fr. hypermarchés), such as Géant Casino or Carrefour, are mostly located on the periphery of towns so it is hard to get there without car.
Prices and a refund
Prices are indicated with all taxes (fr. TVA, or value-added tax) included. It is possible for non-EU residents aged 16 or over spending less than 6 months in France to get a partial refund of TVA upon departure from the EU when shopping at certain stores that have a “tax-free shopping” sticker (fr.la détaxe). A refund of TVA is only possible in you spend over €175 (inclusive of TVA) from a single shop in one day.
Keep a receipt
Always keep your receipt after purchasing an item in a shop, because if it turns out to be defective, you have the right to return it and get a refund or exchange.
Starting from 1 January 2015, shops in France will only be allowed to run sales for a maximum of 10 weeks per year. Outside these two periods, sales are forbidden, but shops are allowed to sell their products at reduced prices.
Bargain on prices
Although it is not common to bargain on prices, especially in bigger/chain stores, more and more French people are starting to negotiate prices and ask for discounts when considering making a purchase, particularly in markets and in smaller, independent shops.
- La Pâtisserie (The pastry shop). This is a heaven for sweet tooth. Here you can find delicious, sweet and superbly flaky treats.
- La Boulangerie (The Bakery). While not all boulangeries also have pastry chefs, many boulangeries do have more than just a wide assortment of crusty and delicious breads to choose from and also offer up an array of sweet treats, cakes and savory items.
- Le Torréfacteur (A coffee house). The torréfacteur sells fresh-ground coffee from around the world (though don’t count on finding one of these in smaller villages in France). You can bring your own pastry to most, but some are more elaborate and have their own pastry selection – so make sure you ask before breaking out your baked goods.
- La Boucherie (Butchery). The boucherie does sell many raw and unprepared meats, but you can also find some prepared dishes ready for reheating.
- Le Chocolatier. These are stores dedicated to chocolate. Here you will find delicate and exquisite chocolates sold by the gram or by the piece.The super high-end stores can get a bit expensive, but they often have specials for gift sets that are perfect to bring home.
- Le Fromagerie. At fromageries you’ll find every kind of cheese you could imagine—from fresh to aged, sheep to goat to cow, sharp to mild, hard to soft, raw to pasteurized. You can always sample cheeses before you buy (which is half the fun) and you’ll find cheese from regions all over France.
- Le Cave à vins (Wine shop). Some caves also have tables in their stores and allow customers to sit and sip for a small corkage fee. And, a lot of places have special tasting nights, where you can meet producers and wine experts while sipping on the shop floor.