Chez Jean is a convenience store, a cafe, a top-up shop or maybe even an emergency dinner ingredients shop.

Designed by Paris-based Saguez & Partners and launched in February, it is the outcome of collaboration between the Casino Group and Relay, the railway station and airport retailer, which bears comparison with WHSmith Travel and is on trial in the French capital.

As well as functioning as a reasonably upscale convenience store, Chez Jean shoppers can benefit from unlimited free coffee with their breakfast, phone sockets for recharging mobiles, an in-store cash dispenser and free wi-fi access.

At the heart of the store is a newspaper, lottery and flowers counter, which wraps around a heavily clad pillar. The rest of the store is zoned by hue, with a light coloured area for fast food and assisted service for chilled or hot dishes, while the darker coloured area is for self-service grocery.   

The designers claim that if you are French, the name Chez Jean imparts a feeling of warmth and familiarity, coupled with no-frills surroundings. This may be stretching the import of a couple words, but as a retail proposition that would find favour with urban workers, this is a format that does seem to service a need.

Open from 7am to 11pm, seven days a week, this 1,485 sq ft shop is unlike anything else in the centre of a French city. Whether it will prove sufficiently popular in these cash-strapped times for the roll-out button to be pressed remains to be seen, but if you find yourself at 13 Avenue de la République, take a look inside.

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