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When Are Stores Open in France? Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in Business, Culture

People quickly notice the difference in les horaires de travail (working hours) between the US and France. Even being aware of the holidays doesn’t always mean you’ll know how to faire le pont (make the bridge). Knowing when things will be ouvert (open) and fermé (closed) is important no longer how long your stay.

A mistake I made going into my first long weekend: faire les courses (grocery shopping) before the holiday. It was a tough few days finding whatever food I had leftover! De plus (what’s more), things being open 24 (vingt-quatre) sur 24 (24 hours a day) doesn’t happen as often in France as in the US. I have wanted to faire les courses many times when it was too late and tout est fermé (everything is closed).

Par ailleurs (beyond that), being able to work on Sundays is a recent development. Until very recently c’était illégal (it was illegal)! Even though la change (the change) already happened, le polémique (the controversy) remains. I learned about it during one of my classes, and hearing something that strange made me blurt out:

-Pourquoi c’était illégal de travailler le dimanche ?
Why was it illegal to work on Sundays?

The answer was all the more surprising:

-Vous êtes trop américain, vous ne pouvez pas comprendre.
You are too American, you cannot understand.

Shocked at such a response, I didn’t press the issue. Au début (at first), I couldn’t believe my teacher had said something so ridiculous to me. Years later I realize what they said was true. The idea of having such strict laws on when to work was too foreign to me.

Maintenant (now) I can appreciate the special care given to les travailleurs (workers) and I quickly got used to shorter working hours and longer holidays.

Ne vous inquiétez pas (Don’t worry) ! En pratique (in practice), Even during the long holidays, restaurants will still be open and des petits épiceries aussi (little supermarkets too). Il y a (there are) more things open, bien sûr, in the big cities, but even in the smaller towns you’re sure to find a kebab shop or two!

Just be sure to check le calendrier (the calender) and look for les horaires (the [working] hours) online if you can!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.