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Readers' tips: Which supermarket in France is the best to shop at?

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Readers' tips: Which supermarket in France is the best to shop at?
Photo: AFP
13:57 CEST+02:00
Each week The Local asks its readers to share their tips about various aspects of living in France. This week we asked their opinion on which supermarket in France offers the best shopping experience and why. Here's what they had to say.
Which supermarket in France is the best?
 
With so many different supermarkets in France, unsurprisingly the response was very mixed. 
 
However Grand Frais just pipped Lidl, Carrefour and E.Leclerc to the post as our readers' favourite supermarket in France. 
 
What is Grand Frais?
 
Grand Frais is a French supermarket chain which was created in 1992. 
 
It specialises in fresh produce and groceries from around the world.
 
Grand Frais supermarkets are designed like a covered market which each have five sections: fruit and vegetables, groceries from around the world, butchers, fishmongers and dairy and it has the added bonus that the butchers shop and dairy are often run by local experts. 
 
There are 216 Grand Frais supermarkets in France and one in Belgium so there's some luck involved in whether there's one conveniently located near where you live (see map below). 
 
For those living in Paris, there is no Grand Frais in the French capital however there is one in Fresnes in the southern suburbs.
 
 
Why is it so popular?
 
While it wasn't the only supermarket our readers highlighted for its excellence, it certainly got the most enthusiastic recommendations. 
 
Sarah Ashley who runs the Cooking in France Together group on Facebook said her favourite supermarket in France was "Grand Frais by a mile. It's a shame there aren't more of them.
 
"[It has] the freshest fruit and veg, more exotic choices and friendly, helpful staff. I love how they sell things you just don't get in other supermarkets, like beautiful chilies, almonds still in their green skin and veggies so exotic I have never heard of them before. It is always well stocked and sparkling clean."
 
Another fan of Grand Frais, Jiouxleigh Kos also highlighted the wide selection available there. 
 
"Grand Frais has the best selection of fresh and more exotic food," she said. 
 
Photo: Lionel Allorge/Wikicommons
 
Reader Sinead Jefferies also couldn't resist recommending Grand Frais. 
 
"It took us two years to discover Grand Frais after moving here - but the range and quality of fresh produce is fantastic. It's definitely our preferred place for food shopping," she said. 
 
And Nancy Dawson praised the chain for its "variety, freshness, price and customer service".
 
However, due to the fact that there are relatively few branches of Grand Frais, some of those who chose it as their favourite supermarket in France also pointed out that it was often somewhere they went as a treat or "to find something out of the ordinary". 
 
Were any other supermarkets recommended?
 
After Grand Frais, the next popular supermarket among readers for a decent all-round supermarket shop was Lidl. 
 
Sarah Ashley from the Cooking in France Together group said that while Grand Frais was her favourite, for her "day-to-day shopping" she goes to Lidl because it has the "best selection of fresh goods". 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Another reader praised the fact that Lidl's produce was "fresh and local". 
 
Carrefour and E.Leclerc were also mentioned by several readers as favourites for big shops. 
 
"My favourite is Carrefour, I find them consistent wherever we are. E.Leclerc is similar to Waitrose whereas I would compare Carrefour to a cross between Sainsburys and Tesco," said Kristina Smith. 
 
However, an important thing to note about these recommendations, including those for Grand Frais, is that many readers said that in France it is necessary to shop around. 
 
Unlike in the UK and US, the inconsistency in what was stocked, as well as the inconsistency in quality (for example, one supermarket might have high quality meat but an unappealing vegetable selection) meant that in France shopping in just one supermarket isn't enough. 
 
Many readers also said that when in France it was important to visit your local, independent shops where "prices are usually cheaper" and the products "better quality".
 
If you would like to ask The Local's readers a question to hear their tips on life in France, email us at evie.burrows-taylor@thelocal.com.
 
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