Whenever I travel to a new country, one of my favourite things to do is explore the local grocery stores.
Wandering up and down the aisles of foreign supermarkets is a delicious way to discover unique snacks and new foods. But more importantly, it gives you a glimpse into the local food culture and ingredients that families buy and use to cook at home.
I still remember the awe I felt when I visited the cheese section in a French grocery store when I first moved to France and finding surprises like frozen escargot or oyster-flavoured potato chips that claim they taste like the sea; each visit was a new adventure and a peek into a French families list of ingredients.
Even after living in France for more than a decade, I still find myself fascinated by the whole “French grocery store” experience.
For example, I finally tried white asparagus, which is everywhere in France. Its slender shape looks scarily similar to a human appendage.
Now, join me on a journey through French grocery stores and supermarket chains in France with my comprehensive list and guide. I’ve even included each grocery store’s logo so that you can easily recognize them when you come across them.
Types of Grocery stores in France:
There is no shortage of food stores and supermarkets in France, which come in all shapes, sizes and specialties, from mammoth Hypermarkets that give Walmart a run for its money to cozy corner shops nestled in urban nooks.
If you’re a tourist or a newbie in France, telling these stores apart can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the chains, their names, and specialties. You may even pass by one without knowing it.
Let’s first take a quick look at how these large grocery stores in France name their stores and then jump into the list of the major grocery store chains that exist in France where the majority of French people shop.
Large Supermarkets and Extra-large Hypermarkets
The two large grocery store formats that you need to keep an eye out for are “supermarché” and “hypermarché.”
- Supermarché: A large supermarket or Grocery store.
- Hypermarché: Hypermarket is a general term for a supersized supermarket. These one-stop-shop superstores combine a department store with grocery stores and sometimes other things like pharmacies, gardening supplies, decorations, electronics, laundromats, restaurants and even a gas station.
In French, “Marché,” which means Market, is a general term that refers to a traditional food market where fresh products are sold by local vendors at outdoor markets. They also refer to indoor markets like “les Halles.” In this sense, the word “Marché” is closely related to the term “farmers market.”
Smaller French grocery stores and convenience stores
Most French grocery store chains also have smaller versions of their store that are more like convenience stores or express stores that cater to the needs of local neighbourhoods and urban areas where larger supermarkets or hypermarkets aren’t available.
These smaller grocery stores will typically have a limited selection of essential groceries, produce, household and convenience items.
How to recognize the smaller versions of grocery store chains
Each grocery chain has its own naming convention to differentiate between the various store sizes and formats, but they usually include the name of the grocery store chain with a descriptive noun.
I didn’t know that when I first moved to France. For instance, there was a small grocery store near us called “Petit Casino” but I had no idea it was part of the Casino Géant chain. Then there’s the chain of “U grocery stores.” Their large hypermarkets are called “Hyper U,” their supermarkets are called “Super U,” and their convenience stores are called “Marché U, U Express, and Utile.” Each one is even smaller than the previous one.
Take a look at how three major French grocery store chains, Casino, Carrefour, and System U, name the various sizes of their grocery stores.
List of French grocery store chains in France (and some German ones)
Now that you know that French grocery stores have supermarkets, hypermarkets, and smaller convenience stores with different naming conventions, let’s jump into the list of the grocery stores that have a presence in France.
French-owned: Founded in 1957
Carrefour is the largest and most well-known supermarket chain in France. They are known for their supersized hypermarkets, supermarkets, and smaller convenience stores located in cities and urban areas. Their supersized hypermarkets could be considered the French Walmart equivalent, but classier and without those strangely dressed Walmartians.
Here are their store formats.
- Carrefour Hypermarché
- Carrefour Supermarché
- Carrefour Market:
- Carrefour Bio: Bio is the French term used for Organic.
- Carrefour Contact:
- Carrefour Express:
- Carrefour City:
- Carrefour Proxi:
French-owned: Founded in 1949
Leclerc is another major supermarket chain known mainly for its hypermarkets and supermarkets, but it does have a smaller format store called Leclerc Express.
- Le Marché Bio E.Leclerc
- Leclerc Express
Fun fact: Édouard Leclerc, who founded E. Leclerc, invented the concept of a wine faire in 1973, which he launched in his French supermarkets.
French-owned: Founded in 1961.
A hypermarket and supermarket chain with a significant presence in France.
Casino grocery stores
French-owned: Founded in 1898 under the corporate name Guichard-Perrachon & Co
Casino has hypermarkets, supermarkets, and convenience stores throughout France. They are France’s fourth-largest grocery store chain and the fifth-largest in the world.
Here are Casinos store formats:
- Géant Casino aka Casino Géant. In the process of being rebranded as “Casino Hyper frais.”(One-stop shop superstores/hypermarkets).
- Casino Supermarchés: Casino supermarkets.
- Petit Casino
- Casino Shop
- Casino Shopping
- Casino Express: Small convenience stores with a limited selection of groceries and convenience items.
- Casino Shop: Smaller supermarkets offering essential groceries, fresh produce, and household items, often located in urban areas.
Casino has a long history in France and is one of the oldest French grocery store chains still in operation. They are owned by Groupe Casino aka “Casino Guichard-Perrachon S.A.” However, its parent company is informally referred to as Guichard-Perrachon.
Fun fact about its name: The very first casino was actually called Casino Lyrique (Lyrical Casino.) It opened in 1856 and was not a French grocery store but a “café chantant” (singing café). Singing cafés were popular entertainment venues in the 19th century where people could enjoy music, singing, poetry readings, and comedic acts in a relaxed café setting. Back then, the word “casino” didn’t exclusively refer to gambling establishments like it does today. Instead, “casino” was used to describe a wide range of entertainment venues and social gathering places such as singing cafés. Hence the name “lyrical casino.”
In 1860, the Casino Lyrique was shut down for questionable activities, and four years later, Mr. Perrachon purchased the defunct Casino Lyrique and converted it into a corner grocery store.
In 1892, Mr. Perrachon son in law, Geoffroy Guichard, became the owner of the Lyrical Cafe and expanded the range of food and groceries sold in the store.
Then, in 1898, Geoffroy Guichard opened a second Casino in a town called Veauche, located in the Loire, which he called the Casino store and formed “la Société des Magasins du Casino,” which formally established “Casino Guichard-Perrachon S.A.” as a company. By 1904, there were 100 Casino stores located in France.
So even though Casino was founded in 1898, it existed long before this date but wasn’t part of a formalized company structure yet.
French-owned: Founded in 1969
A popular supermarket chain of urban supermarkets and convenience stores.
- Intermarché Hyper
- Intermarché Super
- Intermarché Express
French-owned: Founded in 1932.
Monoprix, sometimes just referred to as “Monop” is another popular chain of French supermarkets and hypermarkets that seamlessly blends elements of a department store and a supermarket.
Monoprix is a favourite among both locals and tourists who are drawn to its modern and stylish interiors and unique shopping experience. While Monoprix primarily focuses on groceries, its hypermarket stores can be compared to Target, offering a diverse range of products, including home goods and apparel. It’s a great place to go for clothing, cosmetics, and household items. It’s also a great place to buy interesting gifts to bring back home.
The name “Monoprix” is a combination of two words: “monopoly” and “prix, (monopoly” +” price.) The name represents the chain’s original idea of providing competitive and fixed prices for a variety of products all in one place, similar to a pricing monopoly. This is ironic because, based on several studies, it’s one of the more expensive French grocery stores in France.
Jump to the end of this article for a ranking of the least to most expensive grocery stores in France. Go
- Monoprix Express
- Monop Station: found in some French train stations.
French-owned: Founded in 1894 as “Le
U stores are a French cooperative of merchants with a chain of supermarkets, hypermarkets, and smaller neighbourhood convenience stores, which all operate under different names.
- Hyper U: Hypermarkets
- Super U: Supermarket
- U Express: Small convenience store found mainly in city centres and rural areas.
- Utile: the smallest of their convenience stores, mainly found in small towns, village centers and at rest stops along French autoroutes.
They have a really useful map to locate all their stores here.
Fun fact: In 1894, Auguste Juhel and three other small independent French grocery store owners united to form a cooperative called “Le
French-owned: Founded in 1992
Grand Frais, which means “Big Fresh,” is a chain of supermarkets and hypermarkets throughout France. Its name reflects the store’s emphasis on a wide selection of fresh, high-quality produce, meat, and other food products.
What sets Grand Frais apart from many other French grocery stores is the produce areas are set up to resemble a traditional French open-air farmers’ market. Some even have indoor umbrellas like you might find at a French outdoor marché. They also focus on higher quality meat, produce and international products.
Belgian-owned: Founded in 1974
Cora is a Belgian multinational chain of supermarkets and hypermarkets owned by Louis Delhaize, with around 60 locations in France. Louis Delhaize is a ductch grocery chain, dating back to 1875
The Cora supermarkets are named after the Roman goddess Proserpina, also known as Cora. In Roman mythology, Proserpina is the goddess of springtime and the queen of the underworld, and the name Cora is related to her role as a vegetation goddess and her association with the changing seasons.
- Cora Hypermarket
Dutch-owned: Founded in 1932
Spar is a Dutch multinational chain that operates various store formats, including supermarkets and convenience stores in both urban and rural areas. Spar was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 but is relatively new to France. I first came across this store in Marseille near the old port and had no idea it was a grocery store. The store sign just said SPAR, with a green tree logo, so i though it was some store that sold outdoor products.
Organic and natural food grocery store chains in France
French-owned: Founded in 1973.
Naturalia is part of the Monoprix group, which just so happens to be owned by Casino Group. They specialize in a wide range of organic and natural products, including fresh produce, groceries, health foods, supplements, and eco-friendly household items. Naturalia stores are primarily found in urban areas across France.
Bio c’ Bon:
Founded in 2008.
Bio c’ Bon is a subsidiary of Carrefour Group that sells organic and locally sourced products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, and packaged organic goods. Stores are usually located in urban city centers.
Founded in 1986.
Biocoop is a cooperative of independent organic food stores that sell organic and sustainable products that emphasize transparency and ethical sourcing. Biocoop stores are found throughout France, mainly in urban and rural areas. This is my goto store for delicious produce.
Frozen food stores
French-owned: Founded in 1906
Most tourists have no idea what Picard is, but it’s an extremely popular frozen food store that sells a wide range of upscale, ready-made Frozen meals and products. Frozen duck confit, hors-d’oeuvres, green beans with garlic butter sauce, and duck à l’orange are just a smidgen of the things you can find ready-made. All you do is take it home, heat it up, put it on a pretty platter and serve.
When you first walk into a Picard for the first time, it is a little confusing because of the way it’s set up. Picard stores are always relatively small, compared to standard grocery stores, typically measuring around 150 to 300 square meters (1,600 to 3,200 square feet) and feature 6 to 10 aisles lined with chest freezers. Each freezer has a glass top that slides open to reveal a treasure trove of ready-made meals.
Fun fact: Picard, more formally known as Picard Surgelés (frozen Picard) was founded in 1906 by Raymond Picard as “Les Glacières de Fontainebleau” (the ice houses of Fontainbleu.) He initially sold Ice blocks to households and businesses before refrigerators were household items.
French-owned: Founded in 1966
Thiriet is a family-owned business founded by Claude Thieret that sells prepared frozen meals similar to Picard.
Initially, Thiriet stores were ice cream parlours, but gradually expanded into the frozen food business. Products include Frozen food products, such as frozen fruits and vegetables, ready-made meals, ice cream, pastries, and more. They are known for their high-quality frozen desserts and French cuisine. Thieriet also has a prepared meal delivery service similar to
French-owned: Founded in 2005
Simply Market is a supermarket chain owned by the same company as Auchan grocery stores. Simply markets are mainly found in urban and suburban areas and specialize in a range of groceries, household essentials, produce and more.
A supermarket chain offering convenience and a variety of products.
French-owned: Founded in 1958. Part of the Casino group.
Franprix is a French retail chain that operates small to medium-sized convenience stores and supermarkets. Franprix stores are often found in urban areas throughout France and are known for their convenience and accessibility to shoppers in busy city environments.
Known for being discounted store chains
France has several discount supermarkets that offer a limited selection of high-turnover foods at low prices for customers looking for budget-friendly shopping options. Some are French-owned, others are German-owned.
German-owned: Founded in 1930
Lidl is a well-known German discount supermarket chain with many locations in France known for its no-frills shopping experience.
German-owned: Founded in 1946
Aldi is another German discount grocery store chain well known in France, but not as well as Lidll, also known for its no-frills shopping experience.
French-owned: founded in 1989.
Leader Price is a discount French supermarket chain primarily found in urban and suburban areas across France that sells a wide range of grocery products, including fresh produce, packaged goods, household items, and more.
French-owned: Founded in 1961.
Netto is a budget-friendly discount supermarket chain found in both urban and suburban areas. They sell a range of grocery products, fresh produce, packaged goods, and household items.
French-owned company: Founded in 2003.
Ecomax is a discount supermarket chain based in Martinique. Its stores are mainly located in French overseas departments and territories, such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Reunion Island. They offer grocery products, including fresh produce, household items, and more.
- Ecomax Supermarket:
- Ecomax Marché:
- Ecomax Discount:
- Ecomax Express:
I thought it would be interesting to include this study conducted by UFC-Que Choisir, a French consumer association which ranked hypermarkets and supermarkets in France and New Caledonia from least to most expensive. Discount stores were not included in the study, and they did not survey every grocery store chain in France.
They selected 82 products from 1,342 stores, including drinks, grocery items, milk, cheese, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and home care/hygiene products. The total price of these products was then calculated to rank each store from most expensive to least expensive.
The prices ranged from €364 to €437, with Monoprix being the most expensive and E. Leclerc being the least expensive among the stores surveyed.
Below is an infographic showing the results of their study.