‘Soldes’: the Massive Annual French Sales

  • 2024 Summer Sales Dates: July 3-30, 2024 (and July 6-Aug 19 just over the border in Italy…)
  • 2025 Winter Sales Dates: January 8 through February 4, 2025
  • 2025 Summer Sales Dates: June 25 through July 22, 2025

It’s shocking for Americans, but in France the dates when stores can have a big sale are regulated by law.  The annual Winter Sales ‘Soldes d’Hiver’ and Summer Sales ‘Soldes d’Ete’ are the only two times a year when French shops are legally allowed to sell items for less than cost and use the word ‘Sale’ or ‘Soldes’ in their windows and ads.

It’s a grand French tradition, a bit like a muted version of the ‘Black Friday’ frenzy in the US, or like a country-wide Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale.  Expect big markdowns as the shops try to get the current season’s stock out the door.  The first day can be a real zoo as everyone races to snap up the best stuff, but pace yourself as the markdowns (demarques) get deeper as the weeks go on…

On top of the deals, Americans can get another 20% off by getting their VAT tax back (cha-ching!)   All you have to do is just bring your passport and drop over 100€ in one store.  It’s a great incentive to buy a little more: hit that limit and you essentially get 20% off the whole shebang!  You will have to ask the shopkeeper to do the forms (it’s not automatic and they won’t mention it if you don’t as the paperwork is a pain).

If you want to get a jump on the deals, hop over the border in the Liguria region of Italy, to Ventimiglia or Sanremo, where the sales (‘saldi‘) start few days earlier and always go a couple of weeks longer.

France has loosened up laws that made it illegal for stores to open on Sundays (the sacred family day in France), so you’ll now find the big department stores like Galeries Lafayette, H&M and Zara, and shopping centers like Nice Etoile, Cap3000 and Polygon Riviera open 7 days a week, plus even smaller stores open during the sales period, which is great because the French have not really embraced the Sunday shopping thing, so you’ll have all the great deals but without the crowds!

Related Pages:  more tips on How to Shop Like a Local

Comments are closed.