Although the country's passion for Nutella is no secret, a 70 percent discount on the famous chocolate hazelnut spread at Intermarche supermarkets has really shown what the French are willing to do to get their hands on the spread.
In scenes reminiscent of Black Friday bonanzas in the US, images and videos posted on social media showed customers jostling, scuffling and battling each other to get their hands on pots of Nutella in supermarkets around the country.
“They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand. It was horrible,” one customer at the Rive-de-Gier supermarket in central France told Le Progres newspaper.
In Ostricourt in northern France, the police were called in when supermarket customers resorted to fisticuffs, and similar scenes were also reportedly seen in Roubaix in the Nord department, as well as Wingles and Marles-les-Mines in Pas-de-Calais.
The mad pursuit to get a €4.50 pot for the discount price of €1.40 also saw employees caught up in the fray.
In the village of L'Horme in the Loire in central France, one staff member told Le Progres
newspaper: “We were trying to get in between the customers but they were pushing us,” they said, adding that one customer had been given a black eye.
“We need another system,” said another Intermarche staff member.
We would prefer not to do it. It's more of a nuisance than anything else,” they said before comparing the scenes to the Battle of Berezina fought between the French army and Russia in 1812.
At the Intermarché in Saint-Cyprien in southern France, people threw themselves on the employee carrying the Nutella pots on a pallet, according to reports.
However the manager of the Rive-de-Gier store told The Local that the reports were “completely false”.
“There were lots of people, lots of noise, but the reports of violence were surprising to me — they're not true.
The sale had been a “success” he said.
One Intermarche worker said told Le Progres how some customers had come up with inventive ways to make sure wouldn't miss out.
“Some customers came the night before the promotions to stash the Nutella pots in other places, and thus prevent others from taking them,” Jean-Marie Daragon from the Intermarché in Montbrison, central France.
“Today, I solved the problem by limiting the number of pots to three per person. But they went back and forth,” he said.
At the Montbrison store on Thursday morning, 700 pots of Nutella disappeared in three quarters of an hour and the supermarket is planning to repeat the discount on Friday and Saturday.
Nutella churns out 365,000 tonnes of the spread each year.
Much of the Nutella production doesn't have to go far to get eaten. Europeans love it, with the French second only to the Germans as the world's top consumers of the paste.
The French have long had a love affair with the chocolate spread and it is the sweet and some say sickly breakfast of choice for many French school children.
Around 100 million pots are devoured each year in France alone.