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France Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in France

The vast range of available goods - from luxury fashion, gastronomic specialities, arts and crafts, to antique furniture - have led to France being known as a shopper's paradise.

Paris: The golden triangle, formed by avenue des Champs-Elysées, avenue Montaigne and rue François 1er, is lined with flagship boutiques from renown fashion chains. The rue du Faubourg St-Honoré also houses big-name designers like Hermes and Saint Laurent. For flea markets, check out porte de Vanves and porte de Saint Ouen. For more information, see this Shopping in Paris guide.

Marseille: Diversity is everything in Marseille – within short walks you can go from upmarket departmental stores to spice-laden backstreet stores. The main areas include rue Paradis (for luxury brands) and rue St Ferréol (for affordable items). The farmers market on cours Julien on every Wednesday morning is a must-see too. For more information, see this Shopping in Marseille guide.

Lyon: The vibrant rue de la République and the revamped docklands are key areas. Puces du Canal flea market (3 rue Eugène Pottier) is packed with permanent merchants and ad-hoc sellers, ideal for bargain hunters. For more information, see this Shopping in Lyon guide.

Lille: On the first Sunday in September, Lille hosts the largest flea market in Europe, the well-known Braderie de Lille. The event attracts over 10,000 sellers and more than two million visitors. For those after luxury items, rue de la Grande Chaussée is the place to be. For more information, see this Shopping in Lille guide.

Shopping hours

Department stores open Mon-Sat 0900-1830. Some shops close 1200-1400. Food shops open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops (particularly bakers) open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day Monday, or Monday afternoon. Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.

Nightlife in France

Theatres, late-night bars, and cafés are widespread. Nightclubs can also be found in every town and city; some may charge an entrance fee which includes a drink or others may be free of charge but offer drinks at a higher price. Bars tend to close at 0200 hours while nightclubs can go on to 0600 hours.

Most local tourist offices publish diaries of events, available free of charge. In Paris, magazines like L'Officiel des Spectacles highlights cultural events.

In smaller towns and villages, local bars remain integral parts of the community and it is fairly common for people to shake hands with everyone present (tourists included) when entering a bar.

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