Shopping hours in the French Alps

Shops here in the French Alps keep strange hours. For example, the supermarket in La Clusaz is closed from 12.30pm to 4.30pm, and rumour has it that the reason for this is so that tourists have to buy their lunch from the bakeries and restaurants and thus spend more money in town. In fact, most of La Clusaz closes for the inter-season months of May, October and November. And as I’ve written about in the past, convenience stores are more like inconvenience stores, while “fermeture exceptionelle” (unexpected closure) is a sign well used here in France, and one I’ve struck when attempting to go to a Chinese restaurant in Annecy, the post office in Bonneville and of course, the government office in Annecy for car registration. When I made it to the post office in St Jean de Sixt before it closed for the weekend at midday on a Saturday, I was then told that my item wouldn’t leave until Monday because nobody picks up the mail on the weekends. Shop keepers apparently have a comfortable life and they don’t need to open as often as I’d like them to.

French shop signSo why am I still surprised to see this sign? Pictured here is a sign for a shop in Annecy called “Espace Déco” (a home decorations shop). The sign then reads:

Opening hours

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Monday, Wednesday, Saturday: by appointment or call (number blurred out by me)

So, that’s a total of four and a half hours per week for customers to just happen to walk past while the shop is open. Does anyone ever really bother to call a number just to touch an item for sale and discover its price? I’d feel kind of obliged to buy it if I hauled the shopkeeper out of bed or wherever just so I could browse a few serving trays. How are these shops still in business? The only reason I can think of is that people must think it’s more exclusive if the shop stays closed most of the time and then they make the effort to come back. I think I’ve found the most exclusive shop in the Alps.


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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8 comments on “Shopping hours in the French Alps
  1. Angela Williams says:

    Am never going to moan about shops and local government offices in the UK again, well for the moment at least while Espace Deco’s opening hours are in my mind anyway.

    Still it stops the money flying out of your hand I suppose, but conversely do people ever starve due to “fermeture exceptionelle” of convenience stores and restaurants? ;)))

  2. Ruby says:

    Lol. No wonder you leave your shopping to when you visit the UK!

  3. Louisa says:

    Pedant alert! If you read carefully you will find that you have opened this shop for an extra 90 minutes a week – it’s only open until 2pm on those odd occasions they do open their doors. I’m sure the owners would be dismayed to learn that due to some opportunistic blogger they had decorating tourists expecting them to be there for more than 90 minutes a day.

  4. April says:

    Louisa, thank you for your pedantry. I’ve fixed that up. Silly me, typing that the shop was open until 2.30 which would mean a whole two hours per opening!

  5. Dana says:

    Hi April, I think you’ve mentioned before what I’m about to say, but that feeling of obligation to buy when you enter someones’ shop in France. It’s the only country in the world where I think twice before going in. Don’t we all love to impulse buy once in awhile? Keep up the keen eye. Just wondering, do you ever self-censor your blog for concern that a local might read it?

  6. April says:

    Thanks Dana. There are loads of locals who read my blog, but I think they all take it in the light-hearted way it’s intended. I think they all agree that the paperwork in this country is slow and frustrating, but I should stop speaking on their behalf really. Any locals care to comment?

  7. caroline says:

    Et oui, même une française trouve ça honteux!
    vive la France !

  8. Aurélie says:

    Hello! I’m a local and regular reader of this blog and I love it! I like to know what foreign people think about our country and April is always writing things with good “humour” so no one is upset. I agree that the “administration française” is a nightmare!!
    “Bonne continuation” April.
    Ps: hope you can understand what i wrote. I wrote in English, thinking in “français”…

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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