A beautiful bouquet can give a space an all-new energy and feel and I’m on board with that! Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken an interest in flowers and have tried to become more knowledgeable about the different types and how to care for them. Flowers are stunning after all, and if we’re spending money on a bouquet, we might as well do what we can to keep them alive for as long as possible. Flower culture in France seems to be a bit more prevalent than where I was living in the U.S., so no matter if you’re in Paris or a smaller town, you’ll find a variety of fresh flowers to brighten up your home. If you’re looking to buy flowers in France, here’s what you need to know.
Buying flowers in France
OK first, let’s get into where you can pick up some beautiful blooms. There are three main places where you can buy flowers in France:
Florist shops are quite common in France and are open during business hours and usually on Sunday mornings as well. There are chain florists that you’ll see in many different towns as well as higher-end privately owned florists.
You’ll find arrangements all ready to go complete with a decorative pot or vase as well as loose flowers (packaged and priced as a mini bouquet of 5-6 stems), often outside in the front of the florist that you can pick up yourself. This is more common at your everyday florist. Once you choose your flowers, bring them inside to be arranged into a bouquet.
I like to grab two or three different colors of the same type of flower, as there’s often a nice color selection for each variety. Or I’ll stick with one hue and get a couple of types of flowers in that shade.
2. Markets (le marché)
The second place where you can find flowers in France is the marché. Many farmers’ markets have flower vendors where you can find a nice selection of fresh flowers. They generally do not have pre-arranged bouquets or potted plants available. But you can choose from the colorful selection and they vendor will put together a beautiful bouquet in no time.
At the market, you usually just point to what you want and the vendor takes everything out of the buckets to then wrap for you. But have a look at what others are doing and do that. At bigger stands, it would make sense for you to grab what you want yourself and bring the flowers around to the register to pay.
Most supermarkets have a flower section where you can find a basic selection of ready-made bouquets, loose flowers, and potted plants. My local Super U even has a small dried flower section as of last year. The selection and quality varies by supermarket but it’s quite common to see flowers available at the supermarket. Potted orchids are common as shown above, and you’ll even see some bright yellow mimosas, which are common in the winter months.
Top tips for grocery shopping in France to know before you go >>
DOs & DON’Ts of buying flowers in France
DON’T buy chrysanthemums as a gift for someone. They tend to be reserved for adorning graves at a cemetery. While pretty, they should never given as a hostess gift or anything like that. They would also look a bit strange in a French home so don’t even buy mums for yourself. Remember, mums of all colors should be for honoring a loved one who has passed away and that’s it.
DO try something new! You’ll see flowers you are familiar with, but why not try something in season that you don’t have the occasion to buy at home. Go for it and buy some new-to-you blooms!
DON’T mix too many colors. A good rule of thumb is to stick with two or three different colors to avoid having a bouquet that is all over the place color wise.
DO ask about how to care for the flowers. The florist will usually give you a packet of flower food, but don’t be shy if you have other questions about trimming the stems or changing the water.
DON’T buy red roses unless they’re for a romantic partner. Also, all-white bouquets are generally reserved for weddings.
DO be patient on Sunday mornings. Florists are one of the few shops open on Sunday mornings (especially in smaller towns). You’ll find families picking up flowers for Sunday lunch with family, so it can be a busy time to go. If you want to get in and out, go right when they open and not at 11 a.m.
Vocabulary for buying flowers in France
une fleur: a flower
une fleuriste: a florist
un bouquet de fleurs: a bouquet of flowers
une fleur sauvage: a wildflower
les feuilles: leaves
les pétales: petals
une tige: a stem
Quel est votre budget ?: What is your budget?
C’est pour offrir ?: Is it a gift?
About that last one… when it’s your time to pay at the register, listen for this common question. They’re asking if they’re a gift for someone or if they’re for you. If they’re a gift, just say oui and they will most likely arrange them into a bouquet with some foliage, a paper wrap and ribbon so they look even more beautiful.
Buying flowers in France by season
Like produce, the selection of flowers in France depends on the season. There are exceptions of course, but most mainstream florists wouldn’t invest in loads of peonies in the winter, for example. You can find other beautiful blooms instead during the colder months.
Flowers tend to be in season for about 3-4 months and before or after that, they’re either more rare, more expensive, or of lesser quality. Buying flowers in season means you might get more bang for your buck, as they will most likely last longer than an imported flower from a different climate.
Some flowers in France which are often available year-round are roses, baby’s breath, calla lilies, carnations and more.
On a personal note, during the winter months, I love buying ranunculus. They look like peonies (which I LOVE!), just a bit smaller and that’s what I thought they were the first time I saw them. They are also called buttercups and I see them in yellow, pink, white, and lavender the most often.
Here are some flowers in France by season that would make a lovely bouquet:
Poppies (fleurs de pavot)
Delphiniums (similar to larkspur)
Chrysanthemum or mums (chrysanthème)
Popular French flower names
If you’re looking for your favorite flower, here are popular French flower names to know:
un azalée: an azalea
un bleuet: a cornflower
une calla: a calla lily
un coquelicot: a wild poppy
un gardénia: a gardenia
une jacinthe: a hyacinth
une jonquille: a daffodil
une marguerite: a daisy
un muguet: a lily of the valley
un oeillet: a carnation
une orchidée: an orchid
un souci: a marigold
un tournesol: a sunflower
NOTE: The noun “flower” is feminine (une fleur) but note that each type of flower isn’t necessarily feminine. Way to complicate things, right?!
Are you a flower fan and do you buy flowers in France regularly? What are your favorite French flowers?
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