France in general is a paradise for shoppers. Even outside Paris, most main towns have excellent department stores – usually a Galeries Lafayette – as well as a host of independent shops which make superb targets for window-shopping (known as lèche-vitrines, or literally “window-licking” in French).

Food is a particular joy to shop for; well-stocked supermarkets are easy to find, while on the outskirts of most towns of any size you’ll come across at least one hypermarché, enormous supermarkets selling everything from food to clothes and garden furniture. The most well-known chains include Auchan, Carrefour, Leclerc and Casino. Every French town worth its salt holds at least one market (marché) a week. These tend to be vibrant, mostly morning affairs when local producers gather to sell speciality goods such as honey, cheese and alcohol, alongside excellent quality vegetable, meat and fish stalls. Boulangeries are the best places to buy bread, while patisseries offer a broader range of pastries, cakes and sometimes also sandwiches and other snacks.

Regional specialities are mostly of the edible kind. If you’re travelling in Brittany, be sure to pick up some of the local cider (cidre), while Normandy is famous for its calvados, and the south for its pastis. Provence is well known for its superb olive oil (huile d’olive) and pricey truffles (truffes), as is the Dordogne. No matter where you go, each region will produce at least one local cheese, and wine of course also varies from region to region. Cognac and the Champagne region are also obvious destinations if you’re looking to stock up.

Other items to look out for include lace (dentelle) in the north, pottery in Brittany and ceramics in Limoges. The northeast, especially Lorraine, is renowned for its crystal production, while Provence, particularly the town of Grasse on the Côte d’Azur, is the place in France to buy perfume.

Non-EU residents are able to claim back VAT (TVA) on purchases that come to over €175. To do this, make sure the shop you’re buying from fills out the correct paperwork, and present this to customs before you check in at the airport for your return flight.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The French Alps: summer amongst the peaks

The French Alps: summer amongst the peaks

It's difficult to picture the Alps in your mind's eye without a blanket covering of white. But when the snows melt, another side to the region comes alive. Neil…

31 Aug 2018 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
Paris off the beaten track

Paris off the beaten track

Paris is the world's most visited city. It draws in a barely comprehensible 30 million travellers each year – and its monuments, museums and galleries are so…

20 Aug 2018 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
The world's quirkiest food festivals

The world's quirkiest food festivals

Tomato-drenched crowds wading through a lake of passata at Valencia’s La Tomatina festival might be a familiar image, but such passionate and eccentric cele…

22 Dec 2017 • Lucy Cowie insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs