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Grand Frais = Big Fresh!

If you think you know Fresh, think again. Grand Frais in France takes Fresh to another level. And it’s not just Fresh, it’s seasonal, sustainable, local and anti-waste. 

Currently at about 250 stores in France, it markets itself as “the Best Market” and is modelled after the great indoor markets like Les Halles. There’s no health and beauty aisle or household cleaning products. Their categories are fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, and grocery. French people are used to buying their produce and meat at markets but this is the next best thing and is open retail hours, not market hours. 

What strikes you is not the range of product but its emphasis on locality and seasonality. I’ve been there in spring where it’s coming down with artichokes, asparagus, and strawberries, and in winter when root vegetables and clementines take over. 

When they say local, they mean local. Our local store is in Les Arcs, Provence, and much of the fruit and veg comes from right there, some of it from the same town.  So when they say French produce, it’s often French round-the-corner produce. 

The design is minimal- a big shed with efficient lighting and ventilation. Everything is long and low, making for great fruitscapes and vegscapes. A lot of it is misted. In an interesting twist of store planning, whereas in Australia you’d find the bread and milk at the back to drive traffic, here you’ll find cheese- and lots of it. It does the same job but you tend to spend much longer there.

The art though is in their point-of-sale messaging. They have taken product pins to the next level. Prices are digital but for local produce the French tricolour is prominent along with a few words on its provenance and its points of interest. 

Crosne, for example, are curious little root vegetables that look not unlike large insect larvae. Knowing that, like me, many people have never encountered them before, Grand Frais tells you what they taste like and how to prepare them. I bought some, they’re delicious.

At the butchers, they are so keen to tell you the provenance of their meat that they display the receipts from their suppliers. And there are huge posters of individual farmers who supply core items like mushrooms, oysters and potatoes.

It’s a shop for people who enjoy fresh, quality food and enjoy shopping for it. As it says on the bags, “Je peux pas. J’ai Grand Frais.” I can’t. I’ve got Grand Frais. 


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