Okay, I’m not sure there’s an American alive that doesn’t secretly – or very publicly – love Walmart. It’s a one-stop shop that has it all. It also has some seriously strange people shopping there, which makes it the ideal spot for people-watching. It’s something distinctly American, so is there a Walmart in France, and if not, what’s the alternative?
Is There a Walmart in France?
Unfortunately, there are no Walmarts in France. Sorry expats and travelers alike, this big box store hasn’t quite made the leap into France and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be arriving anytime soon.
That being said, there are plenty of alternative big box stores that can fill that Walmart-shaped hole in your heart.
Where Are the Closest Walmarts to France?
If you were hoping to hop over the border into Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, or Germany to find a Walmart, you’re out of luck. There are no Walmarts in continental Europe.
Walmart used to have a presence in Germany but it failed pretty spectacularly as they couldn’t compete with the low prices of places like Lidl and Aldi.
The UK does sort of have Walmart – Walmart bought a UK supermarket chain called ASDA, so you’ll find a lot of similarities, but it’s a long way to go for a sort-of, maybe Walmart. You’re best off waiting until you’re next back in the States to get your Walmart fill.
Which French Stores are Similar to Walmart? 6 Walmart Alternatives in France
The good news is that there are plenty of French stores that are similar to Walmart, and this type of shop is called a hypermarket. It’s essentially a big box shop that’s often on the outskirts of a town or city, so they have the real estate for a huge store with plenty of parking.
It’s not necessarily a wholesale style vibe, but think of places like Costco or IKEA that are a little bit out of the way, but you go to so that you can get everything in one place. That’s the French hypermarket.
There are a few different brands of French hypermarkets that are popular across the country, and you’re bound to come across them either if you visit or if you’re an expat who has moved to France. Let’s check them out.
If you’ve ever been to France, you’ll have seen a Carrefour in some form. There are four different types of Carrefour: Express, City, Market, and Hypermarche. These range from small convenience-style stores all the way up to the French equivalent of Walmart.
These bigger Carrefours stock pretty much everything. In addition to the tons of groceries that are available at all Carrefours – they have a great ‘free-from’ section by the way – the hypermarket versions also stock electrical items, clothes, car accessories, and sporting goods.
So if you’re looking for a like-for-like replacement for Walmart in France, these larger versions of Carrefour are going to be the closest you’re going to get – and it’s pretty great!
This is where we go shopping for basically everything.
Popular hypermarket, Intermarché can be found all over Europe. In fact, there are 2,369 stores across Europe and 1,840 of those are in France.
So, it’s safe to say, if you’re living in France, you’re going to come across this chain food store.
What sets this apart from Walmart is that it’s more focused on food and drink than household items or clothing. So, if you’re looking for a popular French chain for your grocery shopping and fresh baked goods, Intermarché is probably the best place to start.
So, if you know about Walmart, you’re probably going to be pretty familiar with the big store haven that is Costco.
Despite being an American brand, there are a couple of Costcos in France, predominantly around Paris. That being said, you can also find Costco in Bilbao in Spain and Brussels in Belgium, so if you’re near the border, this may be a better option for you.
What does Costco sell? Well, it’s more a case of what don’t they sell! Costco has made its name selling wholesale amounts of branded products at a reduced rate than if you bought them independently.
If you like buying in bulk or normally buy brands, hitting up Costco is a super cost-effective way to shop in France.
Of course, like Costcos anywhere else, you’ll need to get a membership card before you can shop here, however, it pays itself back pretty quickly with all those bulk buy savings!
If you’ve been in Europe for any length of time, you’ll have seen the German discount Kings, Lidl. Now, Lidl is not a big box store by any means, in fact, they’re smaller than many supermarkets, but they do offer a wide range of produce and homeware items for incredibly affordable prices.
If you’re looking for the value-for-money aspect that Walmart offers, Lidl is a great option and can be found all over France.
Their homeware and clothing offering changes week on week, but always provide great value and you can find out what’s going to be available in the coming weeks by checking out the deals on their website.
Monoprix is a lot more like Target than Walmart, especially when it comes to prices. However, they sell a lot more international products so this is where we go when we need American maple syrup for pancakes or refried beans.
You can basically find anything in a Monoprix, from fresh produce to beauty products. Big Monoprix’s will have a lot more selection and they are known as “Monoprix.” However, just like Carrefour, there are smaller versions of Monoprix known as “Monop’.”
I usually try to avoid these as they are more expensive and hardly have anything.
Another great hypermarket option is Cora. It’s owned by the same group that owns Carrefour in Belgium and can be found in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and oddly enough, Romania.
With 61 hypermarkets across France, if you’re not near a big Carrefour, you’re likely to be near a Cora instead.
Cora sells a lot of the same kinds of stuff – groceries, stationery, clothing, electricals, and more. You can even shop online to save a lot of time and you can either get it delivered to your house or pick it up from your local store.
What Are the Main Differences Between French Hypermarkets and Walmart?
So, although some of these French alternatives are pretty close to Walmart, you’re still going to find some pretty interesting differences, especially when you first start shopping in France.
First of all, French hypermarkets do not tend to be open 24 hours like a lot of Walmarts back at home. Although this may seem inconvenient at first, many places all over the world don’t offer 24-hour shopping, so all you need to do is check the opening hours before you travel.
Many hypermarkets also sell alcohol. This is because France is subject to the same liquor selling laws as the US, so separate liquor stores don’t really exist. It’s super convenient and means you can get all your food and drink shopping done in one place.
Compared to Walmart, you’re likely to find organic sections and a lot more local produce in French hypermarkets.
French vendors pride themselves on local produce and as there are EU regulations surrounding farming and pesticides, you’re a lot more likely to find organic produce at a lower price point than in the US.
What are the Main differences Between Carrefour and Walmart?
With Carrefour being the closest French equivalent to Walmart, let’s check out some of the main differences between these two in particular.
1. Loyalty Schemes
Unlike Walmart, Carrefour has its own rewards program called the Carrefour Fidelity Programme. Whenever you shop, you earn points on your purchases which you can spend at a later date, once you’ve accumulated enough.
For Walmart, you’ll need a Walmart credit card or to become a member of Walmart Plus.
Rather than standing in a giant queue and having to unload all your shopping on and off a conveyor belt, Carrefour has a self-scanning system in place. You simply pick up a scanner gun at the entrance and scan your shopping as you go.
When you get to the end of your shop, you scan your gun and pay for that amount. If you think you can con the system, be aware that there are frequent spot checks to make sure people are scanning absolutely everything.
Some Walmarts have this feature as well.
3. Collection Service
Short on time and don’t want to walk around a giant big box store? You can order everything online, pick a collection slot and pick it all up ready and bagged at the collection section of your local Carrefour.
The main difference here is that this service is super cheap and can even be free if you buy more than $150 worth of groceries.
Putting on a party or need a breakfast platter for a meeting? Carrefour has loads of platters and catering options in their bigger stores so that you don’t have to go to the trouble of putting together that Insta-worthy charcuterie platter – Carrefour has your back.
5. Home Services
Carrefour also offers a whole host of home-based services including home insurance, moving tape and boxes, and even the opportunity to rent moving vans. They also have in-branch post offices and their own bank, so you can get all your errands done in one place!
6. Gas Station
Much like Costco, Carrefour has its own gas station and automotive sections to help you get on your way. This is something that Walmart hasn’t really caught up to yet and it just makes life easier, especially when you have to travel out of the city to these big box stores in the first place.
Most Carrefours offer a range of non-medicinal pharmaceutical products at something called a Para Pharmacie. This means you can get specialist health and well-being products, including skincare, antenatal, and feminine products without having to go to a separate pharmacy.
Of course, if you need a prescription filling, this cannot be done here.
While we’re on the subject of health and wellbeing, the bigger Carrefour stores have opticians ready to help you find that perfect pair of new glasses or frames.
Find the pair you like, let them know your prescription strength and they’ll get them ready while you continue on with your shop – perfect! A lot of Walmarts also feature this at the front of the store as well.
9. Bike Department
It’s no secret that people love cycling in France, so it makes sense that the country’s most popular hypermarket also has a bike department, but not as big as Walmart’s.
Find your perfect mode of transport or shop for safety or sport-based accessories that’ll really make you look and feel the part. You’ll be on the Tour De France in no time!
If you’re looking for any sports equipment in France, you HAVE to go to Decathlon (Jake and I are seriously obsessed with this store). It’s like Walmart but just for sports. You can get everything from camping equipment to free weights and it’s all super affordable.
10. Guns, Fish, and Fishing Equipment
Walmarts in America usually sell guns, live fish, live worms, and fishing equipment. I’ve yet to see any of that in any Carrefour in France!
So, There’s No Walmart in France!
So, while there isn’t a Walmart in France and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon, there are plenty of big box-style stores that are just as good, if not better. The closest French alternative to Walmart?
It’s got to be the larger Carrefour Hypermarchés. With so much on offer, you need to make it your go-to shop if you’re an expat living in France.