Page links; Related site pagesBook travel, hotelsUseful outside linksAbout us, Contact

On this page;

Half term and Bank Holiday shopping tips for day trippers and visitors to Calais, France –, the web magazine for channel shoppers.

holiday shopping

Holiday Shopping in France

French Public and School holidays

Popping across the channel to stock up on items not normally available in the United Kingdom, or just plain cheaper than at home, is a popular activity for most of us near to the channel ports. Even where items are not cheaper, the range and quality is certainly better. If you can, travel during the week – Saturday are very busy.

We get a lot of e-mails on many different aspects of shopping in France and Belgium during half terms, school holidays, Bank Holiday weekends and of course before Christmas. This page will try and keep up to date with opening times and advice for channel shoppers.

In general shops tend to open on all but the most important Public holidays. It seems that Auchan take it in turns with Carrefour Cite Europe when deciding whether to open or not. Either way, there tends to be somewhere to shop.

When shops and supermarkets open on a Public holiday, they tend to close earlier than normal though. Check the local store website for the latest information.

The Summer sales start on 28th June 2017 until the 8th August 2017.

The Winter sales will start mid January 2018 and run until mid February 2018, in NORD (59), Pas de Calais (62) and Aube (10 – Troyes (Factory shopping centres)

However, many departments have different start and finish dates. More information (in French) –

Another link to French Government website concerning sale dates.

Six departments near the French border are free to set different dates, although often they conform to the National dates (Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Vosges, Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantiques.) Additionally, Departments in the South (Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region) sometimes hold their sales later than the rest of France.

In Belgium the sales are held in January and July.

CREDIT CARDS – we suggest you ring your credit card company before shopping in France – increased fraud means they are turning down shoppers cards if their spending deviates from the norm. Take your mobile – you can often sort the problem out over the phone.

carrefour in calais carrefour mivoix calais auchan in calais

cite europe calais L'Usine factory shop France

Seasonal (holiday time) shopping in France and Belgium

We know from our logs that people refer to this site before going on a shopping trip – the number of people visiting increases quite dramatically before half terms for example, and the number of pages looked at by each visitor increases.

Xmas Shopping (Sunday openings)

Key; Fr – Public Holiday or Religious day in France (some shops may be closed). There are 10 Public Holidays in France.

United Kingdom Public holidays are listed as it may be busy on the ferries and Eurotunnel.



Cite Europe

L'Usine Centre – Special openings info.

Cite Europe Centre Auchan in Calais Mi-voix
Carrefour Auchan

Auchan special openings info.

January 1st. Sunday / Dimanche – New Years Day

Fr (1) – Jour de l'an

All Closed Closed Closed Closed
January 2nd. Monday / Lundi – New Year's Day Public Holiday U.K. Open Open Open Open
Special Sunday opening – January 15th Fra Open - - -
February 21st. Tuesday / Mardi Lux - - - -
April 6th. Friday / Vendredi – Good Friday

Easter openings

All Open Open Open Open
April 9th. Monday / Lundi – Easter Monday

Fr (2) – Lundi de Pâques

All Open Open Open Open
April 23rd. Monday / Lundi – Saint George's Day U.K. Open Open Open Open
May 1st. Tuesday / Mardi – May Day

Fr (3) – Fête du premier mai

All Closed Closed Closed Closed
May 7th. Monday / Lundi

Public holiday in the United Kingdom.

U.K. Open Open Open Open
May 8th. Tuesday / Mardi – WWII Victory Day

Fr (4) – Fête de la Victoire 1945

Fra Open Open - -
May 17th. Thursday / Jeudi – Ascension

Fr (5) – l'Ascencion

All Open Open Open Open
May 27th. Sunday / Dimanche – Whit Sunday

La Pentecôte

All Closed Closed Closed Closed
May 28th. Monday / Lundi – Whit Monday

Fr (6) – Lundi de Pentecôte

Restored as a Public holiday in France in 2008

All Open Open Open Open
June 4th. Monday / Lundi – Spring Bank Holiday Monday U.K. Open Open Open Open
June 5th. Tuesday / Mardi – Diamond Jubilee Holiday U.K. Open Open Open Open
June 23rd. Saturday / Samedi Lux Open Open Open Open
July 11th. Wednesday / Mercredi

(Flemmish Community Holiday)

Bel - - - -
July 14th. Saturday / Samedi – Bastille Day

Fr (7) – Fête national

Fra Open Open - -
July 21st. Saturday / Samedi

(National day)

Bel - - - -
August 15th. Wednesday / Mercredi – Assumption

Fr (8) – Assomption

All Open Open - -
August 27th. Monday / Lundi – Summer Bank Holiday U.K. Open Open Open Open
September 3rd. Monday / Lundi Lux - - - -
27th September – Thursday / Jeudi

(French Community Holiday)

Bel Open Open Open Open
November 1st. Thursday / Jeudi – All Saints Day

Fr (9) – La Toussain

All Open Open - -
November 11th. Sunday / Dimanche – Armistice Day

Fr (10) – Jour d'armistice

All Open Open Open Open

15th November – Thursday / Jeudi

(King's Birthday.

German Community Holiday

Bel Open Open Open Open
Special Sunday / Dimanche opening – November 25th Fra Open Open - -
Special Sunday / Dimanche opening – December 2nd Fra Open Open - -
Special Sunday / Dimanche opening – December 9th Fra Open Open Open Open
Special Sunday / Dimanche opening – December 16th Fra Open Open Open Open
Special Sunday / Dimanche opening – December 23rd Fra Open Open Open Open

December 25th Christmas Day. Tuesday / Mardi

Fr (11) – Noël

Xmas Shopping

All Closed Closed Closed Closed
December 26th Boxing Day Holiday (St Etienne). Wednesday / Mercredi

Fr – Alsace and Lorraine only

All - - - -

January 1st 2013. Tuesday / Mardi

All Closed Closed Closed Closed

At Cite Europe, Carrefour Hypermarket is open on Sundays from late November. The shops in Cite Europe open as well.

Other shops

McArthur Glen Factory Shopping Centres.

Public Holidays and Dates to remember – all the dates

Public Holidays see many shops closed. However as in Britain, many shops are now opening.

Half Terms – always busy – if you can go another time we suggest you do.

Remember that French time is one hour ahead of British time. Summer time starts on the last Sunday in March at 2.00am, and ends on the last Sunday in October at 3.00am. More

Avoid busy times on the autoroute, it's not just public holidays that affect the amount of traffic on the roads. Check out Bison Fute for traffic information.

Bank holidays – Peak times start on the Friday and fares are very expensive for the return on Monday.

Half term holidays – The Friday and Saturday at the start of a half term break are expensive, as are the Saturday and Sunday at the end of the break.

Cross channel fares rise or attract supplement from mid July until the end of the school holidays (beginning of September).

Valentines Day – 14th February.

Mother's Day – Sunday 14th March – never forget Mummy.

Halloween – 31st October.

January – it is traditional in France for shops to close for the winter break. Even shop keepers need to get away!

September – after the busy summer holiday period many shops, hotels and restaurants close in September.

We strongly advice you to telephone and check if your favoured shop, hotel or restaurant is open if travelling or shopping in January or September (in areas where people traditionally holiday). August will be a bad month in areas such as Calais, as smaller shops will take their holidays then.

Christian holidays (Dates change each year) – French School Holidays

Ski Season (dates to watch) – 2012 (France and the United Kingdom)

Other shopping times

Monday to Friday – shops are open all day. Many shops close on Monday morning.

Saturday – shops close at 1.00pm. Cite Europe is open until 8.00pm.

Sunday – Quiet – check before going that the shop you wish to visit is open. Small supermarkets are often open on Sunday but only in the morning.

Christmas Shopping

All shops are closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. Most of the shops are open on Sunday in the run up to Xmas. Here are the times for the main shops frequented by United Kingdom shoppers, which we have phoned around for ourselves (they differ from the advice others are giving).

From November we update a page devoted to Xmas shopping. More

Christmas Markets

On the first weekend of December, a traditional Christmas market takes place in the main shopping streets of Calais. They are; Bd. Lafayette, Bd. Jacquard and in the Town centre by the Theatre. Usually more than 100 exhibitors display their crafts as well as local products.

During the rest of the month there is a Christmas Market by the Theatre. More

HM Revenue and Customs (Formerly Customs and Excise)

Follow our advice – Don't lose your car!

Don't overload!

A case of beer weights 17kg, a case (12) of wine weighs 15kg, and a case of champagne 22 kg. In France on the spot fines of £100 are levied for overloaded vehicles, in England the penalty is £40 plus 3 penalty points. In addition the Police will issue a PG9 notice which prohibits you from moving the vehicle until the excess weight is removed. You also must have a new MOT done before the PG9 is lifted.

Making the most of your day

Go early.

Pay by credit card – Although all the shops and supermarkets are keen to get you to pay with sterling the rates are rarely to your advantage.

Fill up with diesel in the afternoon – you will save about 8% on United Kingdom prices.

Check our prices page before you go – print the page or make a note of the things you want which are cheaper.

Prepare your shopping list – if you know what you want to buy (nuts etc.) make a note of the United Kingdom price before you go.

Boulogne (Auchan) and Dunkirk (Auchan) are good places to go to avoid the crowds – just 25 minutes up and down the A16 autoroute (free).

Don't buy boxes of chocolates in the United Kingdom You get better quality and value in France. Even better go to Belgium (Adinkerke) and stock up on good value cheap chocolates. If you are buying tobacco in Adinkerke, Belgium we suggest you try Confiserie Dalipan in De Panne itself or D and O Alexander Chocolates for chocolate treats.

Champagne is very good value in France. For non-brand bubbly (if you are having lots of visitors go to the hypermarkets. For better quality stuff go to Le Chais in Boulogne.

Markets are often good places to find unusual gifts.

Sunday ShoppingMarkets / Braderie

Suggested gifts

Perfumes and skin care products (prices) are very good value. Giving tobacco as a present will save you even more (prices). Remember however that they must be part of your purchases.

What to Buy – where to save money

Best value items

Alcohol – buy it in France – the duty is so much less so most alcohol is cheaper. Beer prices / Sprit prices / Champagne etc. – best value is champagne. SAVE up to 75%

Household – soap powder softeners, baby wipes, CD's, cat litter, DIY products, toothpaste, shampoo, cordless kettles, kitchenware, mens and womens shaving products, aluminium foil, car stereo's, camcorder film, coffins, printing paper. SAVE up to 50%

Children – push chairs, car seats, travel cots, bike seats, baby clothes, toys, mountain bikes.

We hear that "Doliprane paracetamol Suppositoires" are much cheaper in France. SAVE up to 30%

Clothes – Levi 501's, branded shoes, clothes. Scuba gear (Go Sport, Cité Europe). SAVE up to 30%

Food – Anchovies, baby food, biscuits, cheese, chicory (Endives – 85% less in France), chocolate, Coca Cola, cous cous, dry dog food, dry packet soups, fromage frais, ground coffee, jams, mashed potato, mayonnaise, mineral water, mustard, olive oil, orange juice, nesquick, nutella spread, pasta, pasta sauces, rice, salad dressings, tinned sweetcorn, salt, smoked salmon, UHT milk, yoghurt.

The town of Licques is famous for its turkey's – SAVE up to 60%.

Perfumes and Cosmetics – Biggest savings on Skin Care particularly CLARINS. Ferry good value for perfumes. SAVE up to 30%

Eyewear. SAVE up to 20%

Tobaccoprice survey results – one of the best buys in France and Belgium. Pouch tobacco very much cheaper in Belgium as are cigarette papers.

Tobacco (March 2015) – Save £950.20 in Belgium and stay within the limits! SAVE up to 66.39%

(January 2014 – Save £482 in France, £835 in Belgium, £875 in Luxembourg and stay within the limits! SAVE from 55% up to 184%!)

Diesel – price survey results – worthwhile savings, if you visit France regularly worth buying a diesel car. SAVE up to 16%

Petrol – price survey results – no savings to be had due to tax rises in France.

Show booking widget only