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TIPS

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

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.

Readers' tips: Which supermarket in France is the best to shop at?
Photo: AFP
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 [email protected]
 
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TIPS

Readers reveal the worst places in France for pickpockets… and tips to avoid them

If you're someone who has had their holiday to France ruined by a pickpocket, then you're certainly not alone. And it isn't only in the French capital that you have to watch out.

Readers reveal the worst places in France for pickpockets... and tips to avoid them
One reader said that people should watch out for pickpockets at Lyon train station (pictured above). Photo: AFP
A recent report revealed that 2019 has seen a surge of cases of pickpocketing on the Paris metro. But the French capital isn't the only place in France where you need to watch out for petty crime. 
 
We asked our readers who know France well to tell us where else in the country you need to be that extra bit cautious about your handbag, wallet or phone and for any advice on keeping possessions safe.  
 
Unsurprisingly many of the places mentioned by readers were in cities with high levels of tourism. 
 
One of the places that came up again and again was the eastern French city of Strasbourg, with readers noting that thieves tend to operate around the train station, old town and the very popular Christmas markets. 
 
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Photo: AFP

“I was targeted by pickpockets in Strasbourg walking near the old town. Two women – a 40-year-old woman with a 20-year-old girl — walked very close behind me, as I was walking very fast, and tried opening a small shoulder bag,” said Greg Moore from the US. 
 
Another reader said that they “watched a group of girls working the crowd at the Christmas markets.”
 
The beautiful southern French city of Nice was also highlighted by several readers as a place where it is wise to keep a close eye on your belongings. 
 
One reader noted that there are “pickpockets in abundance” and that the city in general “is horrible for pickpocketing”. 
 
“My credit and debit cards were stolen and used when we visited there a few years ago,” they said. 
 
Lyon, the capital city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is very popular with tourists who are drawn to the city for its architecture, culture – and of course the world famous cuisine. 
 
But while it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by beautiful surroundings, Lyon was also highlighted by readers as a place to be cautious. 
 
Linda Martz, who has lived in the city for three years, told us that a pickpocket stole her wallet while she boarded a train. 
 
And another reader Sandra Beard told us that drivers should be particularly careful due to “scam artists” targeting people with cars.      
 
There are “scam artists who “help” you at parking ticket machines while they palm (and take) your credit card (and tells you the machine took your card),” she said.
 
“They have your PIN after looking over your shoulder,” she said, adding that when this happened to her the man “withdrew €5,000 from three banks before we froze our account (within 10 mins).”
 
Photo: AFP
 
It might not be so surprising that the resort town of Cannes on the French Riviera, which has a reputation as a bit of a playground for the rich, was also on readers' lists, with one saying that his brother was pickpocketed as he stepped onto a train at Cannes train station. 
 
Meanwhile reader Leslie White, who lives in Paris, said she and her husband were “hit with the 'bird poop scam'” while strolling in the grounds of the Domaine de Chantilly in northern France. 
 
“A plop of green goop landed on my head. A helpful couple walking behind us helped to clean us off with disposable wipes. My husband somehow had some on him too. They also cleaned out his wallet and of course it was they who had thrown the 'poop' at me in the first place. We didn’t figure it out until the next day,” she said. 
 
Other readers mentioned Tours train station and tram stop, the market in Arles – where reader Sue Byford said her gold necklace was snatched from her neck – and Disneyland, where one person told us they had their new phone stolen, as specific places where pickpockets operate.  
 
Advice
 
Police around France are aware of the high levels of pickpocketing in certain cities and have offered advice on how to avoid becoming a target, including avoiding the “temptation to make valuables, such as expensive handbags and jewellery, too visible or easy to take”. 
 
They have also advised caution when sitting on the terrasse of a bar or café. 
 
It's important to be “very vigilant, do not leave a wallet or phone on a table, in front of everyone” or leave your valuables in your jacket if you leave it slung over a chair,” the Rouen police previously told the French press. 
 
Our readers also had some suggestions of their own, including using zip ties on bags and neck pouches for credit cards and your phone. 
 
One reader said they take the extra precaution of putting mini-locks on all the zippers on their backpack. 
 
Two readers pointed out that unfortunately it is “necessary to be wary of friendly people”.
 
“Any distraction is an opportunity,” said one. 
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