Price Compare Sites

Note: There is a large number of general price compare sites on the Internet, but they should not be used as if they were objective. There have been several issues with these sites. The Ministry of Finance and Economy's consumer and fraud unit and the consumer association UFC have investigated how independent such sites are from the companies presented. 11 out of 12 sites were reminded about the regulations in force, since they were not respecting them. Five sites incorrectly made the consumers believe that their selections of retailers were exclusive. One privileged their trading partner that were paying for a better presentation. In 2011, the Appeal Court in Grenoble confirmed the shady nature of one such site. The judgement concluded that the site in question should be considered equivalent to a commercial. There may not be any real-time price updates. Postage and packaging cost may not be shown. There may not be any information about warranty, after-sales service and other important contractual conditions. The periods during which promotions are valid may not be mentioned. The sites may be useful, but it is advised not to depend exclusively on them.
Buycentral from Lycos. from Yahoo.

Office Equipment & Stationery

See also Business

Bernard. Focus on cleaning and hygiene.
Inmac Wstore.
JPG. Expensive.
Metro. Cash and Carry France. Large stores. Reasonable prices. Access for businesses only.
Office Depot. Large choice. Many stores open for private persons and businesses.
Otto Office.
Cenpac. Packaging materials. In principle, for businesses only, but if you're a private person needing packaging materials, you can still open an account without a business registration number (SIRET) and then simply pay by credit card or Paypal. Just fill in "entreprise" as business type and your name as raison sociale. Since you are presumed to be a business or professional, you cannot invoke consumer law or consumer rights in case of a problem.
Raja. Packaging materials. For businesses only.
Toner Services. Printer cartridges. Cheap.
Viking Direct. A subsidiary of Office Depot, targeted at small businesses.
Vistaprint. Printed stationery etc. Permanently offers free business cards.
Welcome Office.

Books, Music, Films, Video, Audio, Hi-Fi, Photo, TV, Computer Equipment, Software, White Goods, Household Electronics...

Most people seem to know Amazon these days. They have become the leading online retailer even in France. Note that even if you live in France, it is often cheaper to order from other Amazon sites, notably and, even when you take postage into account. The strong euro makes prices on Amazon UK and Amazon US more interesting. Prices can be very different on the different Amazon sites for the same products, sometimes 2-3 times more expensive on one Amazon site than another. A recent order of four DVDs that I split between Amazon UK and Germany cost me a total of 49 euros including postage, whereas the same articles would have cost 61 euros from Amazon France, even with free shipping. One of the DVDs cost 5.75 euros on Amazon UK and 15 euros on Amazon France. Another cost 11 euros on Amazon Germany and 20 euros on Amazon France. Of course, the selection of languages and subtitle languages may be different but English is nearly always included on all national versions. Technically speaking, the products are not identical because of the language selection differences, but I personally don't care so long as I can get the sound and subtitles in English.
On the practical site, the different Amazon sites all recognise the same login and password, and the sites share your address and payment details so you don't need to open different accounts on different sites.
Amazon currency conversion: As in 'improvement' for their customers, Amazon now automatically convert the order total to the local currency of the credit card used if the credit card currency is not the same as the order currency. In fact, this 'improvement' benefits Amazon, not the customer, as the exchange rate commission they apply is close to 4%, which is a worse deal than most credit cards which typically apply betwen 1% and 3% commission. All you have to do is manually set the currency back to the order currency before ordering.

Amazon Marketplace, buyer beware! Many customers used to the high quality on all fronts of Amazon find Amazon Marketplace attractive. Just don't confuse Amazon Marketplace with Amazon itself. When you buy from Marketplace, you buy from independent retailers, not Amazon. Amazon is not responsible for claims in relation to the purchase, except that they offer a limited warranty for 90 days misleadingly titled A-Z Warranty. You are furthermore limited to five A-Z claims for life (five claims on each country site, that is) even though more and more retailers sell on Marketplace. Consumer claims can be valid for two years or more, depending on the context, so three months and five lifetime claims is severely insufficient. If a retailer is liquidated before a warranty claim, it is not Amazon's problem but your problem, unless it's within the A-Z warranty.

Even when you file a claim for a defect product within the 90-days deadline, you may have to start discussing with Amazon, at least in France. The temperature indications on a deep fryer thermostat could not resist the first cleaning with a soft cloth. The texts came off as easily as the grease. That was not good enough for Amazon to accept an A-Z Warranty claim for a defect product. I contested their rejection, only to have it rejected again with no explanation for why a defect is not a defect. It turns out that Amazon's A-Z Warranty team is a sort of state within the state, so when they have said no for no reason, Amazon's customer service can no longer intervene. This experience taught me that Amazon France's A-Z Warranty is not worth the paper it's written on, because Amazon simply refuses to apply it as it suits them.

If you keep discussing, you will most likely end up finding someone who is willing to sort it out in one way or another, but the way they deal with problems in relation to Marketplace purchases is very disappointing.

Amazon does not seem to survey the financial stability of the retailers it allows into Marketplace, as I found out when a retailer was liquidated after I had been trying to obtain a spare part under the legal warranty for six months. Three months after the purchase, and when the problems started, I did a small research myself, resulting in: "Deficit of €295,000 in 2010. Default risk: 90% according to January 2012." Three months later, they defaulted. Could Amazon not have figured this out themselves and stopped them from selling on Amazon? Maybe they could, but the question is why would they do it, since Amazon earns a commission for each sale and is not directly affected by a default and customers losing money.

On the basis of my experiences with the retailers using Amazon France's Marketplace, and on the basis that Amazon France cheats with the application of their A-Z Warranty, my advice is to be extremely sceptical and to avoid purchasing any Amazon France Marketplace product of importance, particularly electrical household equipment. If Amazon itself doesn't sell the product you need, it's better to buy it directly from a different retailer, avoiding Amazon Marketplace.

Which company is behind the brands? Most companies sell under several brands. Wikipedia has a long list under the washing machine article. Online retailers also often use more than one trade name and website. One way of finding out who is behind a trade name is to look up the company on infogreffe, the official French company register.

Amazon France
Amazon UK
Amazon Germany
Amazon Italy
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon Japan
Amazon China
Virgin Megastore France
FNAC - the French answer to Virgin Megastore.

Metro. Cash and Carry France. Large business supply stores. Access for registered businesses only.
Auchan. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Boulanger. One of the mainstream chain stores. Real shops and online shopping. Nothing to do with bakeries. Two years' warranty. HTM group, majority owned by Auchan family.
BUT. Low-end.
Conforama. Mid-range.
Carrefour. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Cora. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Darty. One of the mainstream chain stores. Real shops and online shopping. Don't get fooled by their "Contrat de confiance" that claims to include two years' warranty. In case of doubt, the French tradition of the customer always being wrong is practised just as elsewhere, and their technicians don't always know how to fix faulty appliances.
Électro Dépôt. Discount stores. No delivery. HTM group, majority owned by Auchan family.
E. Leclerc. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Grosbill. Supermarket chain Auchan's online shop with many competitive prices.
MisterGoodDeal. Less choice than for example Amazon but many promotions.
Redcoon. Low-cost electronics online store. Quick delivery.
Webdistrib. Online store. HTM group, majority owned by Auchan family.

AVOID: Surcouf went into receivership in March 2012. It is now for sale. It is impossible to predict if it survives or goes into liquidation. In the latter case, any claim against them is lost (prepaid goods, warranty for defect goods).
AVOID: Late delivery. Product listed in stock but unavailable. Different and more expensive products shipped. Refund problems. See article by the consumer association UFC.
AVOID: Maismoinscher and Cdispo. Both are or were brands for FULL TECH, company now in liquidation that sells on Amazon France Marketplace. Because of financial difficulties, CANDY SUD leased the Maismoinscher brand in March, but it is unclear what happens to the lease agreement now FULL TECH is in liquidation. You tread in uncharted waters if you buy from these companies, and you risk losing your money.

Buy online or in shop? For smaller items, buying online is more and more common. However, for white goods, it's not always obvious. There are several factors to take into account:
- Price including delivery. There are deals to be had online, but the mainstream retailers also have the occasional good offer.
- Delivery time.
- Warranty. Essentially, only the mainstream stores Darty and Boulanger give you two years' warranty while other retailers give you one year and some online retailers limit warranty to the strict legal minimum (i.e. the Code civil's warranty against hidden defects without time limit, the two-year 'conformity' warranty according to EU law (in the Code de la consommation in French law), and the manufacturer's warranty if any). However, it's not enough to have a piece of paper or a law saying you have two years' warranty if the retailer does everything possible to avoid facing up to his responsibilities, such as it is often the case in France. Both Darty's and Boulanger's after-sales service have managed to obtain only a score of 1.5 out of the maximum of 5 stars, which is a very poor performance. Despite many years of commercials over the theme 'the confidence contract' (le contrat de confiance), even Darty sometimes attempts to flee their warranty obligations. In any case, it may be a good idea to have a legal insurance behind you. Don't forget that you're in France and that retailers' knee-jerk reaction is to claim that any defect is your own fault and to keep discussing to avoid repairing defect goods. Too many French retailers think they can just ship merchandise and then forget all about customer service (SAV - service après vente in French).
- In case of defects, do you have to return the device or will the retailer send a technician? Returning a washing machine could be complicated and expensive.
- Will the retailer lend you a device while they repair yours? It's not easy to be without a fridge, freezer, cooker, washing machine ... even for just a few days.
- Financial stability of the retailer. It's not enough to have a warranty if the retailer has gone bankrupt when you need it.
- Reliability of the retailer. Will they actually ship the device within the delivery deadline agreed?
- Help with installation? Maybe DIY minded folks don't need it, but not everybody can do it themselves.
- Do they take your old device back?

Supermarkets in France

(Hypermarchés, Grandes Surfaces, Supermarchés)

Click here for the list of expat food stores.

What you need to know about promotions: promotions appearing in supermarket commercials, for example in catalogues distributed to the households, valid for a certain period indicated on the catalogue, must be available throughout the promotional period in sufficient quantity. If they are not, the supermarket must accept an order for the missing products within the announced period so you can buy the quantity you want at the price mentioned in the catalogue. This is stated by French law and several court decisions. Despite this, availability of promotional products remains a problem in some supermarkets, and a higher price than the promotional price is sometimes appearing on the sales ticket. Staff may be unwilling to accept orders and/or be ignorant about their obligation to accept such orders. In such cases, don't hesitate to complain to the supermarket director and/or HQ of the supermarket chain and insist on your rights. You may also want to inform the government's consumer authority DGCCRF that can visit the supermarket to verify prices and conditions and in the worst cases prosecute them. Even though it could seem to be nitpicking, expenses for food can easily be the highest budget post for a family. Optimising food expenses is only sound budgeting.

Bonial. Promotion catalogues online. Find the catalogues for your town.

Be sure to read my page about commercial practices in France to learn about the many methods supermarkets use to trick you out of your money.

Online Fish

Despite France being  considered a country of gastronomy, the quality of fresh fish is very different, from inedible to excellent, depending on where you live, notably how close you are to the sea, and the quality of local fish retailers. An alternative to local shops is to try online fish retailers that ship in special packaging that keeps the temperature sufficiently low up to 30 hours, enough for courier delivery.


Eggs: How to avoid eggs from battery hens

Anyone who cares just a tiny bit about animals will most likely avoid eggs from battery hens, a practice that ought to be outlawed. But it is not always simple to distinguish between commercial slogans, such as fermier, plein air etc. A word like fermier simply doesn't mean anything, since all eggs come from a farm. To cut through, just read the first digit printed on the eggs, most commonly followed by "FR" (for French eggs), for example "0FR". These codes are standardised in Europe. More info on Wikipedia (only the French egg article mentions the codes). The EU is planning to outlaw battery hens in 2012.

0: Biological/organic agriculture, free range hens, low concentration of hens when inside.
1: Free range hens, low concentration of hens.
2: No cages but the hens are only inside without fresh air. Not advisable.
3: Battery hens. Avoid at all cost.

One category 1 egg typically costs 26 cents, hardly a fortune.

Large supermarkets (Hypermarchés, grandes surfaces)

More and more of these supermarkets have drive-in stores with online ordering. For some of the supermarkets, drive-in facilities are described under each shop profile. Auchan has a separate web site for drive-in.

Auchan. Auchan group.
Auchan Drive. Drive-in Auchan. Auchan group. Order online and collect in two minutes on site. Auchan Drive and Chronodrive will be merged in the near future.
Chronodrive. Auchan group. Order online 24 hours a day, choosing among 4000 products, and drive in and pick up your goods between 3 and 24 hours later. The goods are brought to your car, and you don't even need to get out. Auchan Drive and Chronodrive will be merged in the near future.
Carrefour. Carrefour group.
Cora. Louis Delhaize group.
E. Leclerc. E. Leclerc group.
Géant Casino. Casino group.
Hyper U. Système U group.

Ordinary-size supermarkets (Supermarchés)

Carrefour Market. Carrefour group.
Casino. Casino group.
Champion. Carrefour group.
Intermarché. Mousquetaires group.
Super U. Système U group.

Limited-size supermarkets (Moyenne surface)

Albinuta. Louis Delhaize group.
. Auchan group.
Biocoop. Coop group.
Carrefour Express. Carrefour group.
Coccinelle. Francap group.
Diagonal. Diapar group.
Ecomarché. Mousquetaires group.
Marché U. Système group.
Maxi. Coop group.
Monoprix. Casino group.
Simply Market. Auchan group.
Super Leclerc. E. Leclerc group.

Small stores (Superette)

8 à huit. Carrefour group.
Carrefour Contact. Carrefour group.
Cocci Market. Francap group.
Eco Service. Casino group.
Match. Louis Delhaize group.
Maxi Coop. Coop group.
Petit Casino. Casino group.
Point Coop. Coop group.
Proxi. Carrefour group.
Relais des Mousquetaires. Mousquetaires group.
Spar. Casino group.
Utile. Système U group.
Vival. Casino group.
Votre Marché. Diapar group.

Small city stores (Superette ville)

Carrefour City. Carrefour group.
Coop. Coop group.
Diagonal. Diapar group.
Franprix. Casino group.
G20. Diapar group.
Marché Plus. Carrefour group.
Marché U. Système U group.
Petit Casino. Casino group.
Shopi. Carrefour group.
Sitis. Diapar group.
U Express. Système U group.

So-called discount stores

The following stores are known as discount or hard discount stores. However, that doesn't mean that everything they sell is cheaper than other supermarkets (when comparing the same brands or quality unit by unit) or even that their average price level is lower than other supermarkets. Quite the contrary can often be observed, particularly if comparing the prices of mainstream brands.

Ed, Dia, and Lidl deserve to be pointed out as abusing the discount image, presenting the stores as concrete bunkers with no sophistication, comfort or service but being more expensive than the mainstream supermarkets for a large number of articles. Even the prices in Ed's or Dia's promotional catalogues may be higher than the standard prices at Leclerc for example. Read more about this in the section "Bogus Promotions" on my page about commercial practices. In many cases, it will be less expensive to do all your shopping in Leclerc than to falsely believe that you save money at Ed or Dia. You need to pick and choose what you buy there.

Where you can save money is if you can accept the quality of each discount supermarket's own brands, some of which outperform mainstream brands in price/performance.

Read also the page about how to save money during the crisis.

Aldi. Aldi Nord group. Good for kitchen roll, toilet paper, washing powder/liquid.
Dia. Carrefour group.
Ed (Europa Discount) Carrefour group.
Leader Price. Casino group.
Lidl. Schwarz group. Good for dishwasher products.
Mutant. Coop group.
Mutant Express. Coop group.
Netto. Mousquetaires group.
Penny Market.

Specialist stores, miscellaneous stores

Picard. Quality frozen food stores.
Nicolas. Wine and alcohol.
Le Nez Rouge. Large choice of NON French wines. 11 rue Alexandre Cabanel, Paris 15, Tel. 0147348740.
Metro. Cash and Carry France. Large stores. Access for registered businesses only.

Internet - Home Delivery Stores

Auchan Direct. Home delivery Auchan. Auchan group. Order online and get delivered at home. Available in the Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Lille areas.

DIY - Do-It-Yourself (Bricolage)

Brico Depot
Les Briconautes
Leroy Merlin
Mr Bricolage

Paris area: Bricolex

Cars General, Car Parts, Accessories and Maintenance

Long term car hire: see the travel section.

Sell your car.

How to contest speeding fines and recover your licence points: See the section Government, Legal, Administration.

OTC - L'Organisme Technique Central - the government authority responsible for roadworthiness tests. Includes practical information and statistics.

Also see my page with a list of sites with cars for sale in France and other ads, classifieds and auctions in France.

Alternative car import

It is possible to buy new and used cars through alternative supply chains, obtaining significant reductions. However, you need to beware of a few traps. Even if a new car is by law covered by the manufacturer's warranty anywhere in the EU/EEA regardless in which member state it was purchased, and even if the legal warranty of conformity is the same in all EU/EEA member states, it may not be so straightforward when it comes to the French legal warranty for hidden defects, or when it concerns used cars. Even if a car has only been used as demonstration model at a dealership, it is no longer legally a new car. You need to understand if the French mandataire (proxy, agent) is legally the seller, or if he is only an intermediary for your purchasing a car from a foreign company. If the French agent is legally the seller, he will be liable for claims under the legal warranty under French law for hidden defects, law under which claims can be made for up to 20 years after purchase. If he is not legally the seller, you will need to understand which legal warranties, if any, apply in the country of purchase over and above the legal warranty of conformity. Furthermore, claiming in another country will always be more complicated and expensive than claiming domestically. If the French agent is legally the seller and he closes shop, you will not be able to obtain any legal warranty repair from him.

Don't count on manufacturers' goodwill to pay for repair of hidden defects on cars beyond the manufacturer's warranty. They loathe the alternative supply chains and buying cars outside your country of residence. In a concrete example quoted by the French consumer magazine Que Choisir number 496, October 2011, VW proposed to give only a 30% discount on the spare parts needed for a €10,000 repair of an engine damaged because of a known problem with the oil pump. The discount did not apply to the labour costs. The agent had closed shop.

What you also need to verify before buying is that the price you compare with includes all accessory fees and others costs, such as the registration tax, transportation costs, preparation costs, cost of a user manual in another language, etc.

Finally, you need to compare the equipment level and options. It is easy to sell cheap cars if they come with a minimum of equipment and options.

Beware that certain small agents have been known to commit VAT fraud. They purchase a new car abroad exclusive of VAT, since the VAT is due in the country of first registration. They invoice you the VAT, but the 'forget' to pay the VAT. Hence, if ever you want to sell the car, it may be impossible unless you pay the VAT again. You can verify this by asking for a copy of the VAT receipt emitted by the treasury. The receipt identifies the car for which VAT was paid.

Compare-auto. Compare car prices proposed by independent agents. As with all compare sites, don't presume that the results include all actors on the market or that the compare site is independent.

Aramisauto. New cars through alternative supply channels. Pay less for new cars.
Auchan cars online. The major supermarket chain Auchan has launched sale of new cars online. Savings of up to 40% are announced by Auchan. Behind the scenes, they have signed a partnership with Auto-Ies.
Auto-ies. New cars through alternative supply channels. Pay less for new cars.
Autoplanet. New cars through alternative supply channels. Pay less for new cars.
Bernard Tapie. New cars at negotiated rates.
Elite-auto. New cars through alternative supply channels. Pay less for new cars.
Multimarque. European network of multi-brand dealers and garages promising savings up to 35%.

Spare parts from the scrap yard: If your car isn't quite new and you need spare parts, a used spare part from a scrap yard (la casse) may do the job. There are online compare service for scrap yard spare parts on for example

France casse
La casse virtuelle. You can also sell spare parts here.

Tyres by post order: There are significant savings to obtain by ordering tyres online and having them fitted locally, but you do need to find a local garage that accepts to fit the tyres without sulking because you didn't buy his expensive tyres. Many of the sites below have partnerships with local garages so that is no longer a problem. You can often get the tyres delivered directly to the chosen garage. Thanks to this online competition, their prices are competitive and vary regularly, so it is not systematically the same site that is cheapest for the same tyres. You need to verify shipping costs, but it is now common that shipping is included if you order at least two tyres. The lowest cost of fitting one tyre is typically €15. There may be a tyre recycling charge which can often be saved if you take the old tyres to the tip/dump/recycling facility yourself.

You need to understand the tyre dimensions before ordering. This Wikipedia article will help. 

Tyres specifications are regulated by the Arrêté dated 24 October 1994 (NOR: EQUS9401799A). There isn't anything surprising. All tyres on the same vehicle must be of the same structure (e.g. radial). The tyres on the same axle must be of the same type (Article 3.3).

You may choose a tyre with a higher load or speed index than the minimum specified by the car manufacturer (Article 3.4). There is an exception for cars with a speed index of 160 kph or higher which are allowed to use winter tyres with a speed index of Q if a warning sign is fitted inside the car, clearly visible to the driver, showing the maximum speed allowed by the tyres.

As for "same type", it means that the following specifications must be identical (Article 3.3 referring to Article 2.1):

- Brand (if retreaded tyres, it is the brand of the retreading company that counts, not the original tyre brand)
- Dimensions (e.g. 195/65 14)
- Structure (e.g. R)
- Weight index (e.g. 89)
- Load index (e.g. H). Optional for tyres with a speed index higher than 240 kph)
- In case of winter tyres, the indication M + S, M.S. or M & S.
- "Tubeless" if tubeless
- "Reinforced" if reinforced
- Date of manufacture

It is thus legal to use two tyres of the same brand and specifications on the same axle even if the two tyres are of a different product range. This is not advised for safety reasons, but it may be useful if a fairly new tyre is punctured and cannot be repaired, and the product range is no longer available.

It is allowed to mix retreaded and not retreaded tyres on the same axle if the retreading has been done by the original tyre manufacturer.

It is illegal to use a tyre with less than 1.6 mm depth on the entire rolling surface. Tyres for cars must have wear indicators.

In case of puncture, it is allowed to temporarily use different types of tyres on the same axle (Article 6).

There are exceptions for collectors' cars in Article 7.

Wikipedia: list of tyre manufacturers and brands.

123pneus. Order tyres and have them shipped directly to a local partnership garage.
AlloPneus. Order tyres and have them shipped directly to a local partnership garage. Allopneus also has a home tyre fitting service that costs the same as you would have paid a garage, so you don't have to go anywhere.
Bernard Tapie. Broker using AlloPneus. I'm not sure if there is any added value.
Goodwheel. Note 1: no partnership with garages for fitting. Note 2: they add 4 tyres to the basket by default. Note 3: fee for credit card payment only shown if that payment method is chosen. You can avoid the fee by paying by bank transfer.
Pneus-online. Order tyres and have them shipped directly to a local partnership garage.
Popgom. Order tyres, make appointment with a garage and pay it all in one go.
Too Pneus. Order tyres and have them shipped directly to a local partnership garage.
Autoprestige-4x4. Also car parts. Lousy search facility for tyres.
Trouve-Pneus. Lousy search facility for tyres.
Pneus Leader. Tyres for professionals and businesses only.

Bernard Tapie. Cheap car parts.

Allogarage. Locate local garages and show them on a map. Users can leave evaluations, but only few have written anything so far.

First Stop. Car maintenance centre. Bridgestone tyres.
Midas. Car maintenance centre.
Norauto. Car maintenance centre and accessoires shop.
Speedy. Car maintenance centre.
France Casse. Car breakers online. New and used car parts.
Glastint. Car window colouring.

Autovalley. Online car magazine. Data sheets. Tests ...
Outrefranc. Online car magazine. Informatoin. Tests ...

Fédération Française des Véhicules d'Époque. Federation for owners of collectors' cars.

Euro NCAP. EU crash test results.

The European Commission published a car price index for a number of years, but as car price differences across the EU have come down, and car price information across the EU has become easily available on the Internet, they have discontinued this index.

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