Where do you shop?

When we lived in Atlanta, within a few minutes from home we could be shopping in what seemed like every big box store that exists in America. All were open 7 days a week and even some of those welcomed you 24 hours a day. No need to borrow that cup of sugar from a neighbor when you could easily go get a 5-pound bag, or even a 25-pound bag if you went to the warehouse store, essentially whenever you wanted. Of course when you have a car and a pickup truck to transport all of this back to your 4000 square foot (371 square meters) home it’s no big deal. Now our car is a city bus, the truck is a backpack, and we happily live in about one quarter of the space we had before so we’ve adapted our buying accordingly.

Canal walk to the shopping center

There’s a website called “French Morning” that’s designed to help French people living in the US navigate their new surroundings. They had an article discussing 24 French stores and their equivalents in America that was exactly what Bill and I needed to answer a question from friend and future Carcassonne resident, Jill, about where we shop. I’ll base this post on that information, personalizing it with our own experiences and indicating with an asterisk (*) if there is a branch of the store here in Carcassonne.

Kroger/Publix/ShopRite/Ralph’s—Supermarket chains such as E. Leclerc*, Intermarché*, and Super U cover the country. Many alter their size based on their environment so we have a huge Carrefour* Hypermarket on the edge of town, a medium Carrefour Contact* in our neighborhood, and a smaller Carrefour City* in the heart of downtown, all stocking an amazing selection of items. Watch out, though, because compact space can require creative shelf use. We’ve seen cans of cat food displayed next to cans of tuna that look amazingly alike!

Lidl/Aldi—Both chains are well represented in France including several in Carcassonne. The Aldi near us sells some food items from Trader Joe’s. 

Whole Foods/Sprouts—For organic items there are chains such as Biocoop* and Naturalia while we shop downtown at Bio Vivre*. For beautiful displays of always-fresh and available produce we go to Grand Frais*, although, the Saturday open air market (smaller on Tuesday and Thursday) typically keeps us well supplied with everything we need only a short walk from home.

Target—more than one website suggested Monoprix* as a match and while that might be true in large cities, ours downtown doesn’t have the room to stock everything that a Target might.

Costco/BJ’s/Sam’s Club—There are 2 Costcos outside of Paris and Amazon France does sell some of the Kirkland brand products for delivery. The supermarket chains mentioned above sometimes have sales called “XXL” referring to larger than normal packaging.

7-Eleven/WaWa—The supermarket chains have much smaller versions of themselves that could qualify as “convenience stores” including the name 8 à Huit owned by Carrefour. Train stations often have these types of stores onsite or nearby. Small shops called épiceries that we think of as “greengrocers plus”, are numerous: we have 3 in our neighborhood.

REI/Dick’s Sporting Goods—Décathlon* seems to have everything.

Best Buy—Darty* is the big chain on the edge of town but we prefer the smaller Pulsat* downtown that offers the same prices, free delivery with pickup of your old appliance, and follow up customer service. When we first bought our house and went in to buy the TV, fridge, dishwasher, etc., store owner George uttered the only word in English we’ve ever heard him say. He raised his arms to the ceiling in the universal sign of goal or touchdown and with a smile yelled, “YES!”

Barnes & Noble—There’s Fnac and Cultura* nationwide and 2 independent bookstores on our pedestrian shopping street.

Macy’s/Nordstrom/Bloomingdale’s—Galeries Lafayette, the closest is in Toulouse.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond—Bouchara, Casa*, and Muy Mucho*

Pier 1/World Market—Maisons du Monde*, Casa*

PetsMart—Maxi Zoo*, JMT*, and La Halle aux Graines*

Williams Sonoma—Downtown there’s Histoires de Maison* and Muy Mucho* while in a shopping center we have Casa*.

Staples/Office Depot—There are many Office Depots around France, the closest one to us is in Toulouse. The chains that we have locally are Bureau Vallée*, Plein Ciel*, and Majuscule* plus the downtown bookstore Breithaupt* sells office supplies.

Party City—Gifi* and La Foir’Fouille* in the shopping centers and Festivita* in town.

IKEA—There are several around the country with the closest being in Toulouse and they offer delivery. Competitors might include Conforama* and BUT*.

Home Depot/Lowe’s—Tridome*, Bricomarché*, Brico Depot*, Castorama, Bricorama, and Leroy Merlin.

Beautiful fruits and vegetables

The options for clothing, shoes, and beauty products seem endless, near and far. As you would expect, prescriptions are filled at pharmacies but larger ones also have a para-pharmacy section to sell all the other items that you might find in a US drug store like CVS. In our area, the supermarket chains, especially if it’s a hypermarket, tend to be what we think of as a department store; that is, one stop shopping. If we can’t find it in our neighborhood or downtown then we’ll hop a bus (or walk, if it’s a nice day) out to one of the shopping centers where we’re almost sure to find it.

Market shopping

Furniture stores have to be big to hold all of their wares so those in Carcassonne, both the chains and the independents, are at the shopping centers at the edge of the city. Intown, however, we’ve found bargains at used furniture stores, sometimes called a brocante or a trocante, with one big warning. Woodworm or more generally, wood boring insects, are a big problem here and we’ve had to chemically treat several pieces of furniture. It’s not especially difficult and it does work but now we seek out only metal items.


Not all of these will be a perfect match but then, France isn’t the United States. What I think this list does accomplish, however, is to reassure Jill and others preparing to make the move that it is possible to find pretty much anything that you want either locally (we are within a 15-minute walk of every store listed above as being in our neighborhood or downtown), nearby (in that same 15 minutes we can be at all the other stores by bus), or a short distance away (it’s less than an hour by train to Toulouse). No worries, come on over!

Photo note: Across the top of today’s post is a scene from the market at Carcassonne and the pink umbrellas in the first paragraph were during Breast Cancer Awareness month on a shopping street in Montpellier.

7 thoughts on “Where do you shop?

  1. This is such an amazing and informative list, thank you! Jill and I will definitely be writing these all down, studying them, placing them all on our map, and committing them to memory. (And by “memory” I mean our phones.)
    Merci mille fois!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A pleasure, thank you! And even more good news this morning: the hardware store downtown across from the main post office has a new owner and will be reopening soon so all of those loose screws we’ve been looking for will only be a short walk away 😁


  2. Good morning you two!

    Thank you for this compilation. I definately will be saving it. I have never seen anyone put such information together before.

    Happy sunday.
    Greetings from Bavaria,


    Liked by 2 people

  3. I would just like add to my favorite store, The Saveur d’Asie Alimentation 11 ave. Bunau Varilla, closer to town. The owner is from Cambodian and has just about every Southeast Asian, Indian, Chinese, etc. ingredient you could want. He even has fresh Asian vegetables and herbs, such as, Kaffir lime leaves and curry leaves. If you don’t see it, ask! Sometimes he freezes the herbs. You can also get prepared Asian dishes to take away for lunch and dinner. And to top it off, they have hair extensions and other beauty needs?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a wonderful post! Having lived in nearby Montpellier for almost a year now, I can identify with most of what you’ve written, but I hadn’t thought about the comparison with U.S. stores, which is spot on. One note on organic foods: we buy far less “certified”organic foods here than we did in the U.S., because food produced in France has fewer pesticides and is mostly produced by organic means, even if not certified “bio.” And we love buying from local producers, like the butcher who sourced three turkeys (with heads on!) for my first French Friendsgiving. He called me three times to make sure he had the order right, since my French is not up to snuff yet. And yes, he removed the heads for me. Thanks as always for your wonderful posts!

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  5. Our Pulsat closed and became a Darty! Good list. We live in a shopping desert, though, in many ways. I’ve never been able to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing 😉

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