As of this writing, Walmart has locations in over 25 countries, including the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Botswana, Uganda, and even China.
If you’re reading this, then you must be wondering if there is also a Walmart in France or if there’s a French Walmart equivalent to this retail giant.
I have some good news and bad news for you.
Is there a French Walmart in France?
Sorry to disappoint; if you need to get your Walmart fix in France, the short answer to your question is —No, there is no Walmart in France.
But fear not, because while you won’t find Walmart stores in Paris or any other French city or encounter any of those infamous “Walmartians” in France, there are alternatives that offer a shopping experience similar to Walmart, only better.
In this article, we’ll explore these French Walmart equivalents, including the legendary Carrefour, which combines the best of French culture with the convenience of one-stop shopping.
The French Hypermarkets Similar to Walmart
In France, there are several retailers similar to Walmart that offer a variety of products to their customers, often combining a supermarket, department store and other services under one roof — often referred to as one-stop shopping.
I’m using the word “similar to Walmart” very loosely here. When I say “similar,” I’m mainly talking about the shopping aspect, not those Walmartians you often read about or see in pictures online.
These massive superstores are called “hypermarché (hypermarkets), a word that French trade expert Jacques Pictet invented in 1968. But they are also sometimes called superstores, supercentres, and hyperstores.
Walmart is also a hypermarket:
What you may not know about Walmart, especially Walmart superstores, is that they are also considered hypermarkets, although they’re not typically called hypermarkets.
Similar traits of a typical Walmart and French hypermarket.
- One-Stop Shopping: Like Walmart, the French hypermarché’ is designed to be a one-stop shop where customers can find every consumer good under one roof, from groceries and clothing to technology and more.
- Large Store Format: Between 5,000 sqm to 15,000 sqm (55,000 sqft to 165,000 sq ft) or more. Because of their large footprint, they have large car parks and are often located on the outskirts of a city but still easily accessible.
- Competitive Pricing: Like Walmart, French hypermarkets offer competitive prices by leveraging economies of scale through large sales volumes.
- Online Shopping: Besides their brick-and-mortar stores, French hypermarkets also embrace e-commerce to meet the evolving needs of modern shoppers.
Difference between French hypermarkets and Walmart
Besides being a big one-stop shop that sells everything you could ever need, there are some differences between a French hypermarket and Walmart.
- Walmartians: There are no cooky Walmart people, just normal-looking people dressed like people.
- Hours: Some Walmart superstores are open 24/7. This is very rare in France.
- Local Products: French hypermarkets tend to emphasize local and regional products, such as cheese, Fresh produce, and specialty foods, including organic. Walmart superstores may carry local products but tend to target national brands vs. local ones.
- Reputation: Let’s face it: Walmart has a certain stigma. French hypermarkets tend to feel more upscale than Walmart.
Fun fact: We have France to thank for popularizing giant hypermarkets/superstores.
Sam Walton opened the first Walmart in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, but he didn’t open his first Supercenter (hypermarket) until 1988 in Washington, Missouri.
It’s generally accepted that the French company Carrefour, founded by Marcel Fournier, popularized the concept of giant big box superstores, aka “Les hypermarchés,” by aggressively marketing and expanding their stores within France, Europe and internationally.
As of this writing, Carrefour operates in more than 30 countries worldwide and is the world’s second-largest general retailer after Walmart. It is also France’s largest and most well-known supermarket chain and is often considered the closest thing to a French Walmart in terms of products offered and global reach.
1963: France’s first giant superstores
It all started in 1963, when Carrefour opened France’s first “hypermarché,” or one-stop-shop, at the crossroads of five roads in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, located one hour outside of Paris.
This superstore covered 2,500 sqm (27,000 sqft), used the self-service shopping model, had discounted prices, and stocked food, produce and household items such as consumer electronics, auto accessories, sporting goods, and clothing. The car park had a capacity of around 450 cars, which was also crucial to its success.
The self-service shopping model used in Carrefour was still relatively new back then. Most French consumers were used to going to different specialty stores and asking the clerk to get the items they needed — corner stores, neighbourhood grocery stores, butchers, and bakeries.
Forgotten history: Belgium opened the first European Hypermarket:
Although Carrefour is credited with popularizing hypermarkets and sometimes for inventing them, the first European hypermarkets were actually opened in Belgium when a Belgian company called GB opened three hypermarkets called SuperBazar in Bruges, Auderghem and Anderlecht. They measured between 3,300 and 9,100 sqm (3,5520 and 98,000 sq ft).
Maurice Cauwe, the development engineer who came up with the concept for the Belgian Superstore SuperBazar, got the idea from “Grand Way,” a chain of “Super General” stores that opened its first stores in New Jersey in 1956. But these Gran Way stores were not true hypermarkets of today that combine a full-scale supermarket with a department store under one roof. They were more like extra large General stores that carried a variety of products.
Let’s talk a little bit more about Carrefour, then move on to the other French Walmart equivalents that put Walmart to shame:
1) CARREFOUR (Kar-Foowr)
France’s largest Hypermarket is a Carrefour hypermarket located in Villiers-en-Bière, one hour southeast of Paris. It’s also the largest hypermarché in all of Europe since an extension was added in 1986. 28,200 sqm (30,3542 sqft)
What does Carrefour mean?
“Carrefour,” which means “crossroads,” was named after the location of its first store in 1960, which was situated at the intersection (crossroads) of two avenues in Annecy.
This first store wasn’t a hypermarket; it was a supermarket spanning 850 m² (9,149.4 ft²) and was located in the basement of the Fournier department.
A carrefour is also another French name for a roundabout.
Not all Carrefour store formats are hypermarkets.
Most hypermarkets have many store formats, from giant hypermarkets to smaller 7-Eleven-style convenience stores. Below is a list of all Carrefour store formats in order of size, more or less.
- Carrefour Hypermarché (Hypermarket): These are the largest of all Carrefour stores and the closest thing to a French Walmart—a wide range of products, including groceries, electronics, clothing, and more.
- Carrefour Supermarché (Supermarket): Smaller than hypermarkets, they still have a comprehensive selection of groceries, produce, and household items.
- Carrefour Market: Smaller supermarkets that offer groceries and daily essentials.
- Carrefour Bio: Carrefour Bio focuses on organic and natural products, from organic fruits and vegetables to eco-friendly items.
- Carrefour Contact: Neighbourhood stores that cater to smaller towns. Usually, it has a limited selection of groceries, fresh produce, and sometimes household items.
- Carrefour Express: These convenience stores are mainly located in urban or residential areas and carry essential grocery items and convenience products.
- Carrefour City: Found mainly in urban areas and city centers. Offer a mix of groceries, fresh products, and convenience items.
- Carrefour Proxi: Convenience store format located in urban or residential areas, catering to quick shopping trips.
- Carrefour Express Marché: A smaller version of Carrefour Express, found mainly in urban and residential areas.
- Carrefour Cash & Carry: As of 2018, Carrefour started opening Cash & Carry stores similar to Costco, where customers are required to have a membership to shop at their stores and purchase items in bulk. These stores are primarily located in Brazil.
Carrefour Express, City, and Proxi are similar to corner markets or convenience stores such as 7/11 stores or Couche-tard in Canada but carry a wider range of products.
Carrefour has around 250 stores in France, over 1200 stores worldwide, and 700 stores in Europe.
What kind of products and services can you find at a Carrefour hypermarket?
You name it; Carrefour hypermarché has it.
From fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, meat and cheeses to clothing, outdoor furniture, school supplies, and so so so much more. There are a lot of 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 deal specials, usually located at the front or the side of the store. Walking into a Carrefour Hypermarket feels like you’re in a giant warehouse with a touch of elegance. In fact, our local Carrefour hypermarché has speakers in the produce section playing birds chirping. I actually thought there was a bird stuck in the store the first time I heard it.
List of goods and services found in Carrefour hypermarkets
The following are some of the goods and services you might find at a Carrefour hypermarchés in France. Not every Carrefour has all of these offerings; it depends on the store and location. For instance, not all carrefours have a gas station.
- Carrefour Fidelity card: Carrefour has a rewards/fidelity card, which allows you to accumulate points that can be converted to cash for future purchases.
- Self-checkouts: Many, if not most, hypermarkets have a scanner gun you pick up at the store entrance. It’s self-service. All you do is scan your fidelity card to check one out. You then scan all your items as you place them in your
basket. When you’re finished, you head to the self-checkout, scan your gun, pay and walk out. Once in a while, there are random checks to make sure people are scanning everything.
- Post office: Some Carrefours have a small post office counter located near the entrance to buy stamps and send letters and packages.
- Mini snack bar restaurant called “Bon App,” where you can pick up something to eat.
- Catering services: Carrefour has a pretty good selection of platters perfect for Cocktail dînatoire, birthday parties and other events. They include Sushi, charcuterie, seafood, cheese, and other buffet and cocktail finger food platters.
- Meal kit delivery service: Carrefour has a meal kit delivery service similar to Hello Fresh called Quitoque (KEY-TOKH)
- Carrefour Drive: Order your groceries online, then drive up to a special area to pick up your order.
- Delivery service: Some Carrefours offer one-hour delivery. You can also order a smaller selection of groceries via
UberEats and Deliveroo.
- Gas station:
- Laundry mat: Not every Carrefour has a laundry mat, but the one in Villiers-en-Bière does.
- Moving car rental
- eyeglass department
- Purchase insurance for your home and car
- Banking and branded credit cards through their bank CRF.
- Purchase tickets and shows,
- Book department
- Bike department
- Mobile Phones:
- Para pharmacy: A Para Pharmacie sells non-medicinal products, such as specialized health, beauty and skincare products.
- Makeup and cosmetics
- Auto department: where you can find windshield wipers, oil, and auto cleaning supplies.
- Moving supplies: boxes, tape, etc.
- DIY & Home repair: lightbulbs, nails, outlet cords, etc.
- Home And Kitchen: Furniture, pots and pans, Utensils and more.
- Wine and alcohol
Other Hypermarkets in France (comparable to Walmart)
As of this writing, there are over 2,000 hypermarkets in France. Most supermarket chains have multiple-size stores, from big hypermarkets, supermarkets and small convenience-size stores located in urban centers and in local neighbourhoods.
If you would like to know more about these stores, you might be interested in reading. French grocery stores and supermarkets in France: A tourists guide
Below is a list of the biggest hypermarkets for each chain.
2) E. Leclerc Hypermarket
The largest Leclerc hypermarket is in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, Gironde, measuring 12,922 sq. meters (139,165 sq. ft.) Leclerc’s second largest is located in Brest, Brittany, measuring 10,500 sq. meters (113,021 sq. ft.).
Édouard Leclerc, the founder of Leclerc, is credited with two important firsts. He opened France’s first supermarket in Landerneau, Brittany, in 1949. He also introduced the self-service shopping model to French consumers. Carrefour later adopted this self-service shopping model and implemented it in all its hypermarkets.
According to this article, Leclerc stores have the best prices out of all other similar stores in France.
3) Auchan Hypermarket
The third-largest hypermarket in all of France is an Auchan store located at Noyelles-Godault in Pas-de-Calais.
It measures around 21,850 sqm (235,191 sqft).
4) Cora Hypermarket
Cora’s largest hypermarket in France is located in Nancy Houdement; it measures 16,700 sqm (179,757 sqft).
Carrefour is planning on purchasing Cora in 2024.
5) Géant Casino
Géant Casino is the fifth largest hypermarket chain in the world and the fourth largest in France after Carrefour, E.Leclerc and Auchan.
It opened its first Géant Casino hypermarket in Marseille in 1970, which measured 16,000 sqm. At the time, it was the biggest store in France.
6) Monoprix Hypermarkets
Tourists tend to love Monoprix, especially their home section. It’s a great place to pick gifts to bring home. Part of the reason this chain is so popular amongst tourists is that the chain typically has its outlets in high-traffic tourist areas. Monoprix is France’s leading retailer in city centers and caters to urban professionals and city dwellers across the country.
Monoprix was founded over 90 years ago, in 1932, in Rouen by Max Heilbronn, who happens to be the son-in-law of the Galeries Lafayette founder, Theophile Bader.
On of the biggest hypermarkets owned by Intermarché is located in Somain, in the north of France, measuring 3800 sqm ( 40902 sqft).
8) Hyper U
Hyper U is part of the U brand. Each of their stores has the letter U in them, but each store format is called something different.
- Hyper U: The largest Hyper U is in Mûrs-Erigné near Angers south of the Loire.
- Super U:
- U Express:
- Marché U:
- U Location:
- U Culture:
Wrapping up French stores similar to Walmart in France
Although you won’t find a French Walmart in France, whether you’re looking for groceries, clothing, electronics, or household items, you can find everything you need in a French hypermarket under one roof.