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French market bargaining: expectation or insult?

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May 12th, 2011, 10:52 PM
  #1
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French market bargaining: expectation or insult?

Markets in So France--e.g. Dordogne and Provence--is bargaining expected/accepted as it is in Italy?
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May 13th, 2011, 12:10 AM
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No for food markets. The price is always indicated (by law) and you don't haggle for 2 lbs cherries or potatoes. I have never bargained in Italy.
Brocante markets are different but since they are overpriced anyway, you won't get much of a bargain.
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May 13th, 2011, 12:10 AM
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I've never bargained in Italy. That's why stuff has price labels on it.
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May 13th, 2011, 12:13 AM
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We are always buying food when we visit markets and we do not haggle. The prices are there-1.50 euro for a goats cheese e.g. and we pay that. Others may have experience of haggling -perhaps for goods otheer than food? but we don't. Watching the locals [I only have school-girl French], they do not appear to be haggling but I could be wrong.
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May 13th, 2011, 12:37 AM
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I'd be intrigued to hear what reaction you get when you decide to waste a fruitseller's (and other customers') time in an Italian market by offering half the marked price.

It's obviously something you do, so let's hear about it.
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May 13th, 2011, 01:00 AM
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Food markets are not the places in which you would try to bargain. Those sorts of markets are the bric a brac type stalls and some clothes market stalls.

The OP asked a perfectly reasonable question to avoid making a faux pas. Why the animosity flanner?
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May 13th, 2011, 04:43 AM
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We went to quite a few markets in Provence last year and didn't bargain at all, though we are used to it from trips to Asia where it's a way of life. We didn't notice any bargaining by others. Perhaps at the flea markets where they sell bric-a-brac it may be more acceptable.

Kay
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May 13th, 2011, 05:39 AM
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At flea markets and stores selling brocante in France I always ask, as I do in flea markets and antique stores everywhere I have ever been, "Is this your best price?". And the vendor almost always offers a lower price.

At food markets, it would not occur to me to bargain.
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May 13th, 2011, 05:41 AM
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These market sellers are the same as other shop owners... their shop just moves to a different place every day. You wouldn't negotiate in most shops, and shouldn't negotiate with most sellers. Don't ever negotiate over food. I agree with others that brocante is a bit different, especially at a vide grenier/flea market venue. I wouldn't be overly aggressive though... inquire very politely and be polite if you end up walking away.

In Provence you can ask (again, very politely) if there's the possibility of a discount if you buy something in a quantity... say, four tablecloths or five olive wood cutting boards. Some sellers do post discounts for quantity purchases.

One important aspect of market shopping in France is to be polite and respectful of the sellers.

Kathy
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May 13th, 2011, 05:45 AM
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One sweet thing at our local market, after the fruit is weighed and priced, the vendors often throw in an extra apricot, tomato, a few cherries, whatever. But no, I would never bargain with food vendors.

Recently at a pottery fair a friend and I both bought pitchers and I asked if we could get a discount for two. She knocked off 5 euros, about 7%.
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May 13th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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For food markets bargaining is neither expected or accepted. Don´t embarrass yourself by trying unless you are making an offer on the entire stock.
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May 13th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Most of the roving markets are not selling junk or used goods. They are selling new things, whether clothes, jewelry, purses, textiles, whatever. I don't buy a lot of that kind of stuff so wouldn't know what the reaction would be if you tried to bargain, but I wouldn't do it around anyone who could hear as it would not be good business for them to be selling things for less than marked. If you were alone and business seemed slow or end of day you could ask something about whether there is a discount for buying two or something (I've done that)--if you really are, of course. I've never just tried to bargain like you would in some Middle Eastern souk.

but for junk or used goods, I suppose anything goes.
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May 13th, 2011, 09:38 AM
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Insult in both France and Italy at food markets.
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May 13th, 2011, 01:18 PM
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Thanks all for the feedback. My last major trip was to India--maybe that explains it!

When i was last in Florence (1968) bargaining at the open-air market was both expected and accepted. I got the most wonderful cable-knit wool sweater for $2 ( later traded with a Pygmee in Africa for his braided loin covering--no kidding!)

I should have clarified--i meant the open air non-food--NOT going into the greengrocers!

LOL Flanneruk--i too had to laugh visualizing the response!!

Here's another point of view, with the statement (questionable perhaps?) that it's insulting NOT to haggle in a street market in italy:

http://www.reidsguides.com/italy/pla...argaining.html
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May 13th, 2011, 01:29 PM
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I think people said you shouldn't do that even in the food markets that are open-air, meaning those that set up once or twice a week in squares,etc.

I don't think French people are into haggling that much that they would welcome it if you tried to haggle for that tin of fois grois at a roving open-air market (or those tomatoes, whatever).
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May 13th, 2011, 01:51 PM
  #16
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Thanks Christina for your additional feedback and explanation.

The answers are a relief, actually. I don't much like "haggling" even where it is definitely expected, as in India.
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May 13th, 2011, 10:16 PM
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"Don't rush things. Get to know the shopkeeper. Especially in Southern Italy (culturally closer to Greece and North Africa, where haggling is a high art), you may spend an hour with the owner on big items: drinking tea, showing each other pictures of the family, getting friendly"

This is ridiculous. Owners have better things to do than to brew tea (tea?) and look at pictures of your family.
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May 14th, 2011, 01:54 AM
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There are very few places in western Europe where haggling is the norm.

But that does not mean that you cannot negotiate for a bargain. Herself has her Venice dress where she got about 20% discount in a shop, pretty well just because she asked. She has her Budapest hat where I bargained a 20% discount, again in a shop. She has her French handbags, bought from a market stall (no LV lady, she) where she was undecided between two, and I asked the stallholder to make a price for the two (25% off).

It's difficult to give guidelines. I believe I am a good judge of those situations where it is possible to make a deal. I don't do it a lot, but when I try, I am successful far more often than I fail. It's not haggling in the to-and-fro style that you might experience in an Asian street market.
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May 14th, 2011, 02:42 AM
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Padraig,

I agree, you get a "feel" for when it's appropriate to ask. I'm always very polite and don't haggle i.e. if offered a discount I stop there and accept with a big smile and a merci, mme or m.

As for chatting and being offered tea, have never been offered tea but often asked about family and more often politely wait my turn with a smile on my face while shopkeeper and customer ahead of me have a protracted conversation about weather, family, ailments, etc., etc.
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May 14th, 2011, 06:30 AM
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We were just in Provence were at the market in Apt. After asking the owner if she spoke English...my first question almost 100% of the time...we decided to purchase three scarfs after the owner explained the quality differences. The stated prices were one for 10 and the other two for 12 euros each.

I asked very politely if she offered any discounts for purchasing three scarfs. She immediately said she would sell all three for 10 euros each. The exchange felt very natural and comfortable.

We loved roaming the markets in the Luberon.

DaveMM
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