Shopping in France means different things to different people! For some it simply means browsing the gift shops in their favourite village or seaside town, for others a visit to one of the (many) traditional local French markets is the highlight of a visit.
For foreign visitors to simply stroll through a French supermarket to see how it is different from those at home is an event in itself....
Of course, other people visit specifically to find French items, perhaps searching for fine wines in the Bordeaux or Burgundy region or looking for bargains in one of the extensive Christmas markets held in several of the larger towns of northern France.
Below we suggest some of the places where you can best enjoy the 'day to day' shopping experiences of the French people, in the shopping streets and centres of the most popular towns. Some (but not all) of these might be rather upmarket so come prepared - or leave your wallet at home and go window shopping instead!
Seven great places for shopping in France
One of our own favourite treats (we live about two hours drive from Bordeaux) is to head for Rue Saint Catherine. Claimed to be the longest pedestrianised shopping street in France, Rue Saint Catherine has a very wide range of shops and is almost always bustling with activity.
As a bonus the rest of Bordeaux is a vibrant city that always has something new to see and do.
You might perhaps associate Cannes more with film stars and big yachts than with shopping, but rest assured even the least enthusiastic French shopper will enjoy the shopping experience of this popular Riviera resort.
What's more you don't even need to leave the sea behind - simply stroll along the Boulevard de la Croisette that follows the seafront in Cannes and let yourself get distracted by the many shops and cafes as you stroll along.
You won't be disappointed with shopping in Lyon -as one of the largest cities in France it has a very wide range of options available.
We are tempted to suggest Place Bellecour to begin your French shopping experience because there is always something else going on in the square as well...
...but we have to actually suggest that you start in the Rue de la Republique since that offers (in our opinion) the best shopping experience in Lyon with a wide choice of both luxury and less expensive shops.
This lively town isn't perhaps one that you would associate with fine shopping in France but give it a try next time you are in Languedoc!
The Place de la Comedie is a very large square that dominates the center of Montpellier and is surrounded by several impressive buildings while the square itself and the surrounding streets contain a very good selection of shops.
There are numerous upmarket and interesting shopping areas and streets in Paris, so its hard to know where to suggest - but we can't just list them all so we will suggest the Champs Elysees as a good starting point.
The Champs Elysees is almost two kilometres long, ideal if you have a 'non-shopping partner' with you, and an almost unlimited number of shops and cafes. Start perhaps with a look at the Arc de Triomphe, at one end of the Champs Elysees and one of the most visited monuments in Paris.
As a second suggestion try the Galaries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann - if nothing else it is one of the most impressive buildings in Paris, with a large glass dome high above several layers of balconies.
Our main choice for shopping in the north of France is the historic centre of Lille which has a very wide range of shops of all types with a lovely backdrop supplied by the Flemish style architecture of the town.
Lille is especially lively in the weeks before Christmas when shoppers from all over northern Europe come here to enjoy the Christmas market.
Saint-Tropez and Nice
Back on the Cote d'Azur, Saint-Tropez has a charming historic village centre, eternally blue sea and skies, and lots of expensive shops.
As with Cannes the shopping areas in Saint-Tropez are easy to find and along the coast, particularly around Quai Jean Jaures.
The popular city and seaside resort at Nice is better known for its beaches and old town but also has a very extensive and popular shopping centre with lots of well known brands and a good selection of other shops.
Based along the Rue Jean Medecin, a broad pedestrainised street that runs north from the old town towards the train station, the shops are also in many of the adjacent streets.