Daily dilemmas: Would you shop at markets in France or supermarkets?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 24 Jul, 2019 Updated Wed 24 Jul 2019 14:42 CEST
image alt text

Going to the market and buying locally-grown fruit and locally-reared meat is a rite of passage in France - but are markets being squeezed out by supermarkets?


We asked readers of The Local, and for the first time there was a sharp divide between our Twitter and Facebook audiences.

On Facebook, markets took a commanding lead with 71 per cent of the votes.


There were also numerous supportive comments on markets.

Cindy Sangiovanni said: "Local markers for me!" while Barbara Kathryn flagged up the benefits of having both open-air and covered markets, plus the occasional night time market.

But on Twitter, supermarkets won the day with 57 per cent of the votes.


Convenience was, of course, a major factor for the supermarket users.

Gina Browning said: "In an ideal world I'd only shop local and wouldn't support the big chains. But we don't live in an ideal world."

Camilla Radford Furman agreed, saying: "With my hectic schedule, going to the open-air market is a treat. I use a delivery service for convenience."

And of course many people use both, the market for the experience and the supermarket for convenience.

But we may have inadvertently skewed the poll by running it during a heatwave, as supermarket air conditioning won the day for some readers.

Jan Rees pointed out: "In this heat the supermarket is THE place to be with a constant cool temperature."

Covered markets are ideal for bad weather. Photo: AFP

French markets are a real expression of a culture that values good food and are a major draw for both residents and holidaymakers.

They offer superb quality produce but there are some rules that you need to be aware of.

Mauling the fruit and veg is generally not encouraged, it's all good quality so if you want something specific it's best to just point.

Markets also generally have set prices, so stallholders will not be impressed if you try to haggle (save that for the brocante antiques market where you can often negotiate yourself a bargain).

It's also wise to check online in advance where and when the markets are, as they don't appear every day and can change times according to the season. But whenever you go, it's best to get there early as food markets tend to pack up at around lunchtime.

The markets are also fiercely seasonal so it won't be at all uncommon to find several entire stalls dedicated to apricots, cherries, mushrooms, or whatever has just been harvested.

READ ALSO All you need to know about shopping at French markets 

A very different experience, but another frequently cited by holidaymakers as something of a thrill, is shopping at a French supermarket.

For Brits of a certain age the French supermarket has a certain piquancy as France was thrusting into the hypermarché age when most British supermarkets only had two checkouts.

They still have an excellent range of products, with a lot more organic and locally reared produce than many other countries' supermarkets, but there is increasing evidence that the French themselves are falling out of love with the hypermarché and the big chains have been struggling in recent years.

Despite that, supermarkets still have enough of a place in the nation's hearts to feature in the French government's recent advice on how to stay cool in a heatwave.

Also - let's be honest - the big draw for many people is the good quality wine available at very reasonable prices in all French supermarkets.

READ ALSO Eight tips on buying wine in French supermarkets




The Local 2019/07/24 14:42

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

[email protected] 2019/07/25 17:28
The one thing that puts me off about French outdoor markets is the constant crowding of people and disorganization--nobody forms a line or takes a turn. It's chaos. There was a butcher at the Richard Lenoir Sunday market that made everyone form a line and take their turn. He always got my business. He must be as crowd claustrophobic as I am!

See Also