Le Shopping Secrets of French Women

The Secrets to French Food and Style Can be Found in its Markets

By Nancy McGee, Guest Writer

Isn’t it maddening how French women always look chic? Or how the French effortlessly produce delicious meals? What’s the secret? Do they spend a fortune? Pas du tout! They simply know how to shop. They don’t ‘shop til they drop’ like some westerners, they take their time until they find that ‘coup de coeur’, be it fashion or food. The French dress and eat like royalty without paying a king’s ransom. Less is more.

The secret to great French food is quite simple: fresh local products ideally bought on a daily basis from a specialty store – or at one of those famous farmer’s markets. Looking for the market? Just follow a parade of colourful bags, baskets, shopping trolleys filled with fruit, vegetables, cheese, charcuterie, meats, fish, olive oil….

When you arrive at the market, you may be surprised at the variety of goods: everything ranging from food and wine to clothes, flowers, vintage goods and housewares all at amazing prices. Indoor markets or halles in French– are usually open every day and can be slightly more upmarket. Some even serve dishes created by Michelin star chefs! Other French markets have floating stalls like those in the annual market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in Provence.

But market day is by no means just about shopping. It’s also a social gathering occasion. People will be spilling out of local bars and brasseries, sitting at tables in the open air and chatting with friends over a coffee, a glass of wine, and even a plate of oysters. It’s the essence of the South of France.

To enjoy your French retail therapy and impress your French hosts, a few tips on etiquette. Never approach a merchant without saying a bonjour – nor an au revoir or ‘bonne journée’ (or both) upon leaving. Likewise, a s’il vous plait and merci are polite and absolutely essential.

Child admires display case with colorful macaron

A few words and phrases in French never hurt on a shopping spree

Please – S’il vous plait
Thank You – Merci
Hello – Bonjour
Goodbye  – Au revoir
Have a nice day! – Bonne Journée
How much does it cost? – C’est combien?
Credit card – Une carte de crédit
I’m looking for – Je cherche

My Favourite Markets

Farmers’ markets are generally held mornings on specific days of the week 6h30 am to 1 pm 

Farmers markets

St Remy de Provence: Wednesday
Aix en Provence: Saturday
Arles; Saturday
Antibes: Daily
Uzès: Saturday 

Specialty Markets:

Flowers in Nice : daily
Anitques in Isle sur Sorgue : Sundays
Pottery and ceramics in St Quentin la Poterie : May 1st

Indoor markets or “Halles”

Sète, fish and seafood, every morning 7/7
Narbonne open daily from 6:30 am to 1 pm

A Few of My Favourite Things


Marseille is known for its soaps, so look out for those especially with at least 52% olive oil content. Some of the best are artisan-made using a strict centuries-old soapmaking tradition. They are often beautifully packaged and make great gifts.


Provence is known for its glorious purple lavender fields that turn the landscape into a vibrant impressionist painting. French markets offer plenty of lavender products to take home as gifts, such as lavender sachets, essential oils and soaps.

Textiles and Pottery

A wide range of textiles can be found in both the markets and stores, many with the distinctive Provençal design. Les Textiles Mistral, and Souleiado offer quality clothing and household textiles, sold in stores or online.

“Santons “ Nativity Figurines

If you’re in Provence in December you’ll notice the markets are full of small hand-painted terracotta nativity scene figurines. These figures represent characters from Provençal village life and are used to decorate the traditional mangers.


Soap from Marsaille

Nancy McGee has spent the past 30 years in France and is the founder of Absolutely Southern France, a fully licensed travel company founded in 2011 that provides customized arrangements for vacationers seeking unique gourmet, leisure and cultural experiences. For more visit absolutelysouthernfrance.com

More Tips & Thoughts About France…

Paris Café Writing: Let Inspiration Find You

Slip away for a week of Paris cafe writing! A one week, small-group seminar where we write in cafes, with the city of Paris yours to explore.

What to Wear in France

Members of the JourneyWoman community submit their tips and advice on how to dress when visiting France.

Do You Have a Tour or Experience That Caters to Women?

Do you have a tour or experience you want to share with our womens solo travel community?

Falling in Love with the South of France: Women’s Travel Tips from Author Patricia Sands

Best-selling author Patricia Sands shares her love for southern France and offers travel tips for women visiting the region.

An Art Professor Rediscovers Her Muse in Travel Sabbatical

An art professor who reluctantly heads out on a scheduled sabbatical renews her passion for her own art and gets a preview of an exciting post-retirement life of her own creation.

Immerse yourself in one of Europe’s Most Beautiful Places with European Experiences

Small-group tours for women that allow you to immerse yourself in one of Europe’s Most Beautiful Places.

Women’s Travel Tip: Paris Tours

JounreyWoman reader Joy details a few of the deeply interesting tours she experienced while travelling through culture-rich Paris.

Ann Mah’s Suspenseful Novel “The Lost Vintage” Takes us to the Vineyards of France

Set in Burgandy, France, Ann Mah’s book The Lost Vintage explores past and present, love lost and secrets kept.

Small Group Tours with Absolutely Southern France

Do you want to experience the beauty and secrets of the Côte d’Azur, Provence and Occitanie?

Le Shopping Secrets of French Women

Isn’t it maddening how French women always look chic? Or how the French effortlessly produce delicious meals? Pas du tout! They simply know how to shop

Journey Woman

Follow JourneyWoman for curated articles, tips, news and content from our community and our partners.




  1. Avatar

    Wonderful little article that gave me a much needed break from the horrible and sad news I awoke to in my country this morning. Thank you! Looking forward to returning to travel when safe to do so….

    • Avatar

      Our wonderful farmers’ markets in France returned to liven up our streets this week . They play an essential role in our society not only bringing people together but also providing much needed income for the local farmers. The stalls are currently laden with my favorite fruit, strawberries and cherries . Yummy!

  2. Avatar

    I love articles like this with tips that can make one’s experience even more delightful and memorable. Haven’t been to France in 36 years and only saw Paris so it’s high on my list to see the rest of the country!


We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

Disclaimer: We are so happy that you are checking out this page right now! We only recommend things that are suggested by our community, or through our own experience, that we believe will be helpful and practical for you. Some of our pages contain links, which means we’re part of an affiliate program for the product being mentioned. Should you decide to purchase a product using a link from on our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission from the retailer, which helps us maintain our beautiful website. Thank you!

We want to hear what you think about this article, and we welcome any updates or changes to improve it. You can comment below, or send an email to us at editor@journeywoman.com.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You cannot copy content from this page.

Send this to a friend