Store Hours and Credit Cards in France, Episode 10

Category: France How To

This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon.

On today's show, Annie and Elyse discuss store hours and credit cards in France. Why do we need to do that? Because there are some things that will surprise you unless you know what to expect!

Store Hours and Credit Cards in France

In large French cities like Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, etc. store hours are 9 AM until 7 PM non-stop. But in small cities and villages things aren't that straight-forward. When you only have one employee running the store all day, you have to give them a lunch break during which they close up shop.

For example, the bakery in Annie's village closes at 1 PM and won't re-open until 4 PM. The baker works different hours still. Why is that? French people are trained that way, if we need bread at 2 PM for some reason, we know we have to go to the grocery store, not the bakery!

What Do Sell at French Pharmacies?

Another thing we discuss in the episode are the things that you will and will not find at a pharmacy in France. This always surprises visitors because it's not what you're used to in English-speaking countries! You will never buy drinks or snacks at a French pharmacy for instance. They have some candy, but it's more of the sore throat candy than anything.

And there are no pharmacies inside of French grocery stores. Some of the larger grocery stores have a "Para Pharmacie" but they only sell a limited number of products there, and they don't fill prescriptions at all.

What Credit Cards Work in France?

Another big topic on today's show are credit cards. Which ones work in France? And something else you may have never considered: how do you buy gas in France without a chip credit card? Things like that have changed a lot recently. You should also listen to our more recent episode on this: Will my Credit Card Work in France? Episode 99

Store Security

When we recorded this episode in 2014 this was a bigger than it is now in 2018. But there used to be intimidating store security at most grocery stores in France. Typically you'd have a buff guy patrolling and following folks around. What's up with that? How do you deal with store security? Nowadays you see more security / fire safety people, which is more comfortable for everyone. We talk about how that works in France in this episode.


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Category: France How To

5 Replies to “Store Hours and Credit Cards in France, Episode 10”

  1. Hi Annie & Elyse
    Just discovered and subscribed to your podcast. I have a passion for Scotland where I live, second only to my love of France. I usually visit France each summer for a few weeks so will look forward to your podcast episodes. I produce my own weekly podcast of my travels around Scotland so I appreciate the work you are both putting in. Many thanks for a great listen.


    1. Hello Kevin and welcome to Join Us in France. I actually looked at your website design a while back as it’s quite nice and effective I think. Now I’m going to have to listen to your podcast as well, I am curious too! It’s good to have you along, don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any. Happy travels!

  2. Thank you for your comment Chris and welcome to Join Us in France! So did you try you U.S. chip and pin card in France or are you speaking generally when travelling outside of the U.S.? My American card is the old swipe kind and it definitely does NOT work either at automated gas stations or toll booths in France (or Spain, I tried it there too for good measure).

    Listeners, did you try your American card in France? Did it work for you? I don’t have to ask Canadians and Australians and New Zealanders and British people because I think they all have chip and pin cards by now, don’t they? As far as I know the U.S. is lagging behind on that.

  3. Good afternoon, our magnetic swipe cards were accepted and worked in most places, except the American Express card ,where the smaller shops would not accept it because of the fees. The exceptions were the ones you noted and the velo rentals in Paris. Which, from a practical point of view, may well have saved my life. We could not purchase Paris Metro carnets with swipe cards.

    Most if not all US credit cards will be replaced with ones with chips this year which I think is” la puce” in French.

    Love the pod casts,
    Ron Witzke

    1. Hello Ron,

      Yes, those are called “carte à puce”. Conversely, the bad ones are “cartes sans puce”. Buying from automated ticket machines can be exciting without a French card; it sometimes works, but there are no guarantees. This can be a problem if you arrive at a time when there is no personnel on site (night, week-ends, holidays). So when in Paris buy your tickets in the day-time!