A Tabac is a quintessentially French phenomenon – think café, bookmakers, newsagents and bar all rolled into one with a little bit extra too!
Confused yet? No need to be; just roll with it. The Tabac is often at the centre of community life – especially in villages. Usually opening early, workers may meet for a pre-work coffee or a small tipple to end the day.
Pronounced Tah-bah- the c is silent; these shops are often a hive of activity and are so easily recognised with their diamond-shaped red sign.
Traditionally, the Tabac sells tobacco and has had a monopoly on this since 1906. You will find a range of cigarettes and cigars and now some vaping equipment on offer, but there are also many more products and services on offer at your local Tabac.
Here our Top 11 things you may like to do in a Tabac:
Have a coffee or something stronger! Many Tabacs have cafés or bars attached.
Buy stamps (Timbre rouge ou vert)
Pay your bills, including school, hospital, and cash fees (bills must have a QR code and state ‘payable auprès d’un buraliste’)
Pay your taxes – no, you can’t submit your French tax return here, but you can pay some taxes, including the contribution à l’audiovisuel public (TV licence), taxe foncière, and taxe d’habitation, providing your bill is less than €300 (as with other bills, it must have a QR code).
Buy newspapers, magazines, postcards, and road maps.
Buy a blue parking disk – needed for local parking zones marked blue
Buy scratch cards, Lotto (Lottery tickets) and have a flutter
Buy phone top-up cards
Withdraw money – some Tabacs also have ATMs and/or manage a bank account – available in some Tabacs
Purchase a ‘carnet’ of bus tickets or tickets for TGV/TER long-distance trains
Register your Carte Grise for your vehicle
(Note: not every Tabac offers all services, so be sure to double-check which services your local Tabac provides)
Above all, use your Tabac to get to know the locals and to find out about local events. Coffee is often slightly cheaper than from a restaurant serving coffee and a Tabac often has a vantage point over the town square in order to watch the world go by and to soak up that wonderful French culture.
Local Life in France
From shopping at the supermarket to sending a parcel at Post Office, finding your local dechetterie to who to call in an emergency—FrenchEntrée is here to help with every aspect of day-to-day living in France. Read our Essential Reading guides for advice on living in France, visit our Shopping zone or Pets zone, or brush up your language skills with our handy learning French resources.
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