French vs. American Refrigerators

Maybe I’ve been looking at too many appliances lately, trying to decide on the just right one. But during my search, I’m trying to figure out what the difference between a French refrigerator and a réfrigérateur américain is…

French refrigerator

American refrigerator

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  • Philip
    February 21, 2012 8:24am

    Perhaps the American fridge is simply larger. (I think I’ve offended myself.)

    • Amelie
      February 21, 2012 8:28am

      It was my first thought too… :)

  • Jason
    February 21, 2012 8:31am

    Only the doors are French…

    • February 21, 2012 8:37am
      David Lebovitz

      Every French person I’ve tried to explain what “French doors” are to (or what “French cut” green beans are) have looked at me like I’m insane.

  • February 21, 2012 8:42am

    The French is stocked full of wine and delicious savory pastries, not to mention a beautiful girl to open and close it for you. The American has lots of room for cabbage. Go with the French.

  • Andrew
    February 21, 2012 8:50am

    From the looks of it, the American one is more likely to have leaks. (Sorry.)

  • February 21, 2012 9:03am

    It does seem to come down to marketing. The props! French: crammed, plenty of wine, sparkling water… American: sleek, bare, and do I spy beer in the lower left shelf? Both look fab. Go with whichever is cheaper!

  • February 21, 2012 9:09am

    Funny how the French refrigerator is advertised in English, yet the American one is labeled in fran¸cais. Sorry, I’m not that familiar with using the accents on my keyboard. You get the idea.

  • Skippy
    February 21, 2012 9:22am

    It looks like the French one guarantees the owner many evenings of chic, elegant parties, and the American one guarantees the owner a few plastic containers and water bottles.

  • February 21, 2012 9:48am

    Does the bottom part open in the same way? I thought the difference between American and French refrigerators was that the American ones had a freezer door that opened as a door ( going down) whereas the French ones opened as a pullout drawer (which prevented things from falling down).

  • John M
    February 21, 2012 9:48am

    Having had to buy French appliances for our house in Brittany I would say the French one is exactly the same but 20% more expensive

  • Melissa
    February 21, 2012 10:15am

    Marcela, the American “French door refrigerator” (which is what’s pictured) has the freezer section on the bottom slide out as a drawer. It does not swing open either horizontally or vertically. The “traditional” style of American refrigerator does have the door swing out horizontally on both sections, but the freezer section is on top.

  • February 21, 2012 10:18am

    In France, what we call a “réfrigérateur américain” is a fridge with at least two vertical doors. It used to be mostly fridge on the right and freezer on the left, but now some of them are just two-door fridge and freezer on the bottom. This compared to our regular refrigerators which only have one big door for the fridge and one small door for the freezer (which can be on top or bottom).

    However I was not aware that in the States there was such a thing as “french door refrigerator”, which indeed does look exactly as what we would call an american refrigerator…

    Maybe nobody is proud enough of this two-door system and they’re trying to put the blame on others…
    Also I do agree with a few of the posters above, the french fridge seems packed with better things than the american one, maybe it’s a sign…

  • Robin
    February 21, 2012 10:42am

    I think the French fridge is just how Americans imagine the French to live . . . a refrigerator filled with only champagne, foie gras, pastries etc. when in fact, if you will look in the fridge of most French people, you will find petit suisse, UHT milk, pâté from the corner Franprix . . .

  • February 21, 2012 11:02am

    Ha! I agree with Robin. Having lived in Paris for 7 years (and in many rental apartments) I would say that in reality French fridges are small and narrow and American fridges are double wide …

  • tony
    February 21, 2012 11:46am

    Either would be fine with me at this point. After have been in the UK for almost 3 years I miss my “American” style fridge VERY much!

  • February 21, 2012 11:54am

    I suspect that they are simply catering for the two types of French population. Those who are so patriotic that only ‘French’ is good enough, and those who like the idea of something more exotic! If you have the space, I could recommend a Liebherr fridge I am lucky to have- it is enormous, and about 6ft tall. Salad crispers in the bottom, adjustable racks, no freezer drawer..I have the matching freezer side by side. I did look at the ‘American’ fridge/freezers at the time but the freezer bit didn’t really have much room.

  • February 21, 2012 12:04pm

    You have to pay 19.6% VAT for the French one.

  • February 21, 2012 12:14pm
    David Lebovitz

    Chez Loulou: Well, if you buy it now, the tax is only 19.6%..before it goes up to 21.2%

    John: It’s interesting how much more stuff is here than in other European countries. When I was looking for stuff online, the differences in price were substantial.

    tony: I hear ya. Folks here don’t understand why I want a big refrigerator until I had to explain it to them, such as when I told my contractor that he couldn’t do his work if he drove a Mini Cooper – he needed a truck. And this refrigerator is gonna be my truck!

    Robin: Do people actually buy that pâté at Franprix? *shudder*…

  • Eri
    February 21, 2012 12:25pm

    American fridge is bigger than the French fridge. After all, when I was shopping for my refrigerator, the sales person told me how the bottom tray/drawer of the French style refrigerator will hold an entire box or pizza. Only Americans would think of that advantage (no offense, I eat pizza but I wouldn’t think of storing an entire pizza box in my fridge…)

  • Susan
    February 21, 2012 1:00pm

    I have never seen a home French Refridgerateur in France (or the french part of Switzerland) anywhere near that large! However, most homes I’ve visited/lived in here in Paris and Geneva have secret secondary storage freezers and refridgerators in basements, garages, back rooms, and anywhere else guests arent likely to go. That’s where they keep les mirabelles gelées (from your tree in the countryside), the rest of that 6 pack of lait bio, the other 2 dozen eggs, about 5 blocks of butter (one salted, two doux, two for strictly baking), three bottles of champagne or some more local crémant (that you tell all your guests is better than most champagnes and half the price), frozen shelled walnuts (probably from some relative’s tree in the dordogne), the cepes and other mushrooms (picked at your secret spot in le bois de fontainebleu), and various frozen meats bought directly from the farmer or shot by your family members. Or maybe that’s just my in-laws and friends.

  • February 21, 2012 1:01pm

    Do French people (and woman) normally wear shoes in the house? And are refrigerators in America packed with green veges? The marketers will do anything to try and fool customers.

  • February 21, 2012 1:14pm
    David Lebovitz

    Three-cookies: Women in France only wear shoes in the house (high-heeled ones) when they live above you, have hardwood floors, and come home at 4 am in the morning.

    Eri: I always wonder where people who shop at Picard (the frozen food store chain) all the time store everything in the small freezers here. I have a moderately decent-sized fridge, yet I barely have enough room for all the ice cream stashed away in there..

  • February 21, 2012 1:19pm

    The French one comes with a lovely chic young French lady?? The mind boggles.

  • Phil
    February 21, 2012 1:24pm

    @ David re. women in heels
    I’m pretty sure there’s only one very rich Frenchwoman who lives above ALL of us!

    A lot of our friends couldn’t understand why we wanted to move somewhere with either a full size fridge or space for a separate freezer(which is what we ended up doing):
    “Beh, t’es con! C’est que le frigo?!?”

  • February 21, 2012 1:46pm

    Clearly, the wine, the girl and the delicious food don’t come with the American fridge….

  • February 21, 2012 1:52pm

    David, the woman in heels thing reminds me of a time when we were travelling down to Spain with our young sons. We got part way down through France and ended up staying in a motel for the night.
    It got to the early hours quietly enough, then a couple in the room above us returned from an evening out. The lady must have been wearing very high heeled shoes and woke everyone. They then proceeded to make more noise than we thought humanly possible while doing the horizontal tango. Either her partner was very good, or very bad, judging from the moaning, groaning, head board bashing and bed rocking. Can’t remember what we said to the boys to explain it!

    Hope your new apartment lives up to your expectations and is well insulated!

  • February 21, 2012 2:08pm

    French refrigerator are just smaller, that’s it!

  • February 21, 2012 2:21pm

    Eh, the American fridge is free-standing and the French one build in? Both look lovely. I’m on a similar odyssey in next-door Belgium, the journey has been truly epic so far…

  • February 21, 2012 3:19pm

    I’ve got an American fridge too. It doesn’t fit in the fridge hole in the kitchen so we had someone make an insert for the coffee machine and the combi over and the fridge sits over to the side. Can’t work without place to put stuff.

    I love the Mini Cooper/tools comparison. :)

  • February 21, 2012 3:20pm

    Were I still a high school teacher, I would use this post as a brilliant example of IRONY. So hilarious. But I think the comments have me giggling as much as the post! :D

    About this: “Folks here don’t understand why I want a big refrigerator until I had to explain it to them, such as when I told my contractor that he couldn’t do his work if he drove a Mini Cooper – he needed a truck. And this refrigerator is gonna be my truck!” Excellent point!! Hmmmmm, I think I need to use this argument to try to get me a better computer and at-home workspace. :-)

    And I totally cracked up at this: “Women in France only wear shoes in the house (high-heeled ones) when they live above you, have hardwood floors, and come home at 4 am in the morning.”


    I wonder what my Parisian P.O.S. midget fridge should be called in French. I’m thinking something along the lines of “p*tain de m*rde.” Isn’t that the French equivalent for P.O.S.? P.D.M.? Ha.

  • Russ
    February 21, 2012 4:55pm


    I’ve been following your new build-out with much amusement, as I just recently built a house in the states (MN). I also spent the summer in Paris and used your blog religiously while there and have been a loyal reader ever since. We had such a hard time finding a refrigerator but ended up with an electrolux “french door” with a slide out freezer on the bottom. The “french doors” have nothing to do with France, it’s obviously just a description of the type of door. I like the french doors because I can fit larger items horizontally (like a sheet cake or anything that goes on a sheet pan for that matter). I like the pull out freezer because this model has three individual drawers to avoid too much stacking. We opted for a “cabinet depth” which drove the price up and maybe that could be a difference between the Euro and American models? Cabinet depth is shallower vs a stand alone but if it’s in a bank of cabinets, it fits nicely. Good luck, it’ll be worth it in the end.

  • February 21, 2012 5:05pm

    It looks to me like the French version comes with a very attractive and pastry. Other than that, they look nearly identical (and just like what I have in my American kitchen).

  • February 21, 2012 5:26pm

    The French have actual food in theirs — we have expensive water and a lone vegetable that will never get eaten. Also, the French one comes with a kicky lady — always a bonus (I’m hoping she does dishes and windows, in addition to making those little tarts).

  • February 21, 2012 5:27pm


  • February 21, 2012 5:32pm

    let me google it for you:

    “Le réfrigérateur américain dispose de deux portes, à l’image d’une armoire, et intègre le caisson de réfrigération et celui dédié à la congélation dans un même ensemble. Quant au réfrigérateur européen, il ne dispose que d’une seule porte et la partie congélateur est isolée de la partie réfrigérateur.”

    so, long story short, the top picture shows an americain, et pas francais!

  • February 21, 2012 5:35pm

    Lol. French fries, French bread, French dressing…..
    French makes everything Fancy.

  • karin
    February 21, 2012 5:38pm

    american interiors seem to be roomier..i had to remove most of the optional shelves especially in the freezer to maximize the interior space. i think next time i would have bought a large american for the ease and space i am used to.

  • February 21, 2012 5:39pm

    Ah! the French refrigerator in the Paris apartment I rented had a wine rack! and did I love to keep that stocked! LuLu

  • JimmyJay
    February 21, 2012 5:44pm

    The French fridge is more snooty and won’t accept sweet salad dressings, Kraft cheese, frozen pizza, well-done meats & fish sticks. It also refuses to open up if you plan to serve a meal called brunch or Thanksgiving dinner at mid-afternoon. And if you try to serve the dessert before the fromage – well your French fridge might just toss all its contents.

  • libby habeck
    February 21, 2012 5:45pm

    This is a “french door” refrigerator, not a french refrigerator….both pictures are of the same LG (which is actually Korean) refrigerator, the newest model. They have a bit different interior configuration, but are actually the same frig….

  • February 21, 2012 5:47pm

    I’m sure what I have to say is simply redundant, but anyway… The true French refrigerator is simply smaller (like other European refrigerators). The French refrigerator in name has French doors. the Refrigerateur Americain is clearly so named because of its unusual (by European standards) size. I’m sure you know what you want anyway. I myself bought a French refrigerator (Bosch) and decided it was a waste of precious space, but that was because freezer and cooling compartments were parallel. I can’t see the benefit of double doors if the space inside is the same (the newer models). I now have a Fisher Paykell (one door top one door bottom with drawers that pull out) that seems to work very well for me.

  • Barbara S
    February 21, 2012 5:47pm

    Price, of course
    Check the manufacturer…could be the same for both.
    Drawer freezers have been in the US for a long time….and they don’t have pizza in them! Fresh is best!

  • Dani
    February 21, 2012 5:52pm

    Are both fridges “no frost” in that you don’t have the hateful task of defrosting it every other couple of weeks? When I bought my fridge a bit over 10 years ago, I insisted that it be no frost and that was not so easy to find here in France. But now “Hal” is super loud, suffering from some compressor ailment and the repair guy said you can either wait for the thing to die on its own or go ahead and replace it, but don’t replace it with another Whirlpool. For now Hal is keeping me company but I have been thinking about other fridges…

  • Judith Basham
    February 21, 2012 5:53pm

    Having lived in Europe for the past 39 yrs and some of that time without the American side-by-side refrigerator; well, it was pure hell. The design has changed from the huge side-by-side (freezer on one side, refrigerator on the other) to this big wide open barn door on top to a pull out freezer. I am waiting for my GE side-by-side of 21 yrs to snuff it and I will replace it very quickly with the new style. Will I like it? Who can say? But for certain, I won’t have one the size of a kitchen rubbish bin.

  • Jody
    February 21, 2012 5:54pm

    Well, obviously, the French refrigerator comes with a woman while the American refrigerator comes with a vent at the bottom.

  • Janet
    February 21, 2012 5:55pm

    David, I’d try to see if the designations are just marketing and superficial things like doors or if these are genuine American refrigerators for sale. I’m an American living in England, and we’ve got an American-style fridge, but underneath the skin, it’s all English, which as far as I have been able to determine isn’t a good thing. Food doesn’t seem to last as long in them, particularly things like greens, and there’s a strange angled trench on the back wall with a strange hole in the middle of it. I ignored it for a long time, until water started to collect on the bottom of the fridge and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Apparently, English fridges are designed so that condensation drips down the back wall into this trench and are funneled into the drainage hole. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be cleaning that hole out occasionally and so it had clogged up. Check for weird things like that, because it might be a European phenomenon and not just an English one.

  • Jennifer Moragoda
    February 21, 2012 5:56pm

    Hi. Got a good laugh reading all the theories and comments. I too at present am exploring fridges and saw for the first time the aforementioned “French refrigerator”. One website (US based) explained that the French refrigerator is one which has the fridge on top with double doors and pull out drawer or drawers on the bottom for the fridge. I always thought the side by side freezer/fridge was the so-called American Fridge. Oh well. The mysteries of branding…

    There are so many pros and cons for each configuration. When you decide on what you are getting, hope you share it with us all.

    BTW, I thought the “French refrigerator was an improvement over the side by side as you get more flexible space in the fridge section and in the freezer section to accommodate wider items which is my great peeve with the side by side. I have at present a less glamorous but more practical wide single door LG fridge with freezer above. It has efficient cooling and tons of space, but is only a pain as it is quite wide to open. I have a separate small chest Haier freezer which runs on 5 amps amazingly.


  • James in Seattle
    February 21, 2012 6:02pm

    Whatever you do, skip any model with so-called “French” doors…unless you want to use BOTH hands every time you want to open and close the fridge. That will entail setting down whatever you want to place in the fridge, opening the doors, picking back up whatever it was that you wanted to place in the fridge and jamming it in, than using both hands to close the doors. I usually find it easier to open one door, while holding whatever I’m going to put in the fridge in the other hand, without having to set it down first.

    Besides that, you’ll get more shelf space in the door, if it isn’t divided down the middle.

    Just my two cents…

  • Heide
    February 21, 2012 6:05pm

    I have one, I love it and don’t care if it is French or American.

  • Jan from STL MO
    February 21, 2012 6:11pm

    If you can’t find a the magnificent Liebherr fridge (comes in a variety of widths), consider one with a glass door front (SubZero makes a beauty) to show off your delicious dessert acumen. If all the LGs are made in z’Orient, shipping is the heavy, viva la dif!
    I can just see your dinner guests staring at a glass front fridge waiting for dessert!

    • February 21, 2012 6:22pm
      David Lebovitz

      I used to have a Sub-Zero refrigerator and I didn’t like it at all. The freezer was great (I love pull out lower freezers) but it was not very deep so you couldn’t put anything of any depth in there, and I was always moving stuff around. Plus they’re wildly expensive and so many other manufacturer’s are now making similar stainless steel models at a fraction of the price, they just don’t seem worth it.

  • Sheyla in The Hague
    February 21, 2012 6:13pm

    It’s French when you’re buying it in America and it’s American when you’re buying it in France!!!:))))))

  • Maureen
    February 21, 2012 6:14pm

    Whatever you call them, they’re great for tight spaces (oven door on the other side; don’t want to block the door to the dining room; etc. etc.). Our GE Profile french-door in West Marin has always had the problem that the stuff on the “floor” of the fridge freezes, thereby expanding the freezer capacity…….

  • February 21, 2012 6:19pm

    I wonder what the French would say to ‘haricot vert’?
    The French must have invented hotel refirgerators…

  • February 21, 2012 6:20pm

    My Mother-in-Law bought a fridge with the freezer on the bottom and she has grown to really really dislike having to dig around for things in there and crouch down to get an ice cube.

  • martha
    February 21, 2012 6:30pm

    The handles are different, buy the cheapest one!

  • February 21, 2012 6:37pm

    Reminds me of when I was building on to my house and requested French doors for the bedroom. After much explaining to my contractor he looked at me blankly and said, “You mean double doors” Hmm..

  • February 21, 2012 6:39pm

    Too funny. Maybe the top one comes with the cute French chick. On this subject, David, I live in France and I bought a Liebherr. BEST fridge I’ve ever had on either side of the pond, and I’ve renovated (and lived in) a dozen houses.

  • Anna
    February 21, 2012 6:44pm

    Hi David
    Your ‘French’ fridge is a Korean made american style fridge with what they call French doors(narrower double doors in a single width model). Essentially it’s the same as the American model. Sigh, our ever shrinking international world.

    Good luck

  • Maxine
    February 21, 2012 6:53pm

    The main difference is the width, in France most appliances are 60 cm wide, which is the basis unit for buit-in kitchens, this applies to built-in ovens, dishwashers, washingmachines, cooktops…
    Even if now you can have 45 cm dishwashers or 80 cm cooktops.
    And Paula sorry, french fridges can have a separate door for the freezer : above for a small one and under for a big one. Old ones had an inside tiny freezer, but they don’t do them any more, except for 90 cm high fridges (te one to be put under the countertop.

    Here is the end of my lecture on french appliances

  • February 21, 2012 6:56pm

    I can’t really see a difference, except the American is possibly a bit larger. It may take a more discerning eye than mine. :-)

  • Linda H
    February 21, 2012 6:57pm

    I once had a sub-zero that had wood panels on the front so that it looked like the rest of the wall of kitchen cabinets. The door handle was inconspicuous. Guests couldn’t find the refrigerator. I actually liked the shallowness of the sub-zero shelves. I never lost anything to the back, the door compartments were deep and useful, and the bottom freezer was big. The only drawback was that the vacuum created just after closing the door meant that if you forgot anything and wanted to reopen the door immediately, you just about yanked your arm off getting the door back open. David, was your sub-zero that way, too, or was mine just overzealous?

  • Jaynie
    February 21, 2012 7:11pm

    It looks the the French one comes with a Blonde.

  • Jaynie
    February 21, 2012 7:13pm

    How good is a pithy reply when it has a typo? Pretty sad.

    It looks like the French one comes with a Blonde.

  • February 21, 2012 7:15pm

    David, forgot to mention, be wary of chunky doors that have a curved front. In tight spaces,where there is a wall to one side, that sometimes means you can’t open the door(s) properly!
    Not a good idea…

  • February 21, 2012 7:20pm

    To me it seems that the French fridge has developed quite a bit towards the American model, traditionally, as I know it, the French one would be more basic. Well, nowadays, I guess everybody is offering high-level fridges for people who like to pay quite a bit and therefore get a high-end product Which one will be your preferred one?

  • maura
    February 21, 2012 7:20pm

    Italians always tell me the “American refrigerator” makes ice because according to Italians, we’re obsessed with ice and our “dangerously cold” beverages.

    The one in the photo doesn’t seem to have an ice maker, but do the French also accuse us of being ice fanatics?

    :( Note: this conversation usually goes down while someone here offers me a tepid ice tea:)

  • Vanessa B
    February 21, 2012 7:25pm

    It’s all marketing.
    The French style is for the Americans who dream they could party like that and want to cram as much food in it as possible.
    American style is for the French. Obviously they prefer a cleaner and less cluttered look and don’t need to shop at Shopko! (And everything in America is bigger)
    Otherwise looks like the same exact fridge to me.

  • Lisa W.
    February 21, 2012 7:43pm

    The French one will entice hot babes, or guys,to help with your next dinner party. Looks like it also has way more good-looking food in it! Seriously, though, some brands here in the U.S. call the style with two doors “armoire.” Two years ago when I bought a new fridge, I debated on this style, but thought it was silly to have to open two doors all the time. Are you really going to remember which side houses what? I went with a single door with freezer on bottom and am very happy with it. You do need to ensure you have the room for door clearance, of course. Fridge is a big purchase, for sure! Good luck!

  • Jack
    February 21, 2012 7:44pm

    “French” doors are like the ones in Paris and Versailles and so forth – they open in the middle, rather than swinging from a single hinge. It’s the nice way to go into the garden. A nice, big, bottom-freezer is the way to go, if possible, unless you have the space for a humongous (comment dit-on en français?) pair of dedicated fridges, one a fridge, one a freezer. Why it’s so damned difficult to find the things that make a kitchen, in a country that prides itself on its cuisine, is puzzling. En tout cas, bonne chance!

  • February 21, 2012 7:46pm

    : ) Who would have thought that a simple appliance could generate so many entertaining comments? I’ve admired those glass front fridges since I first saw one on Martha Stewart’s show. However, it seems like it would be a pain to keep the contents looking presentable. Regular stainless steel front is probably the best way to go.

    I do dream about having a smoothie and ice cream fridge. Juices, fruits, and dairy in the fridge compartment. Different flavors of Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry sorbets and ice creams in the freezer. Pure heaven.

  • Norine
    February 21, 2012 7:54pm

    They look the same to me. LG Refrigerators are made by a Korean company, Lucky Gold Star. And they are probably marketing a slightly smaller version to the French market as you say their kitchens are not usually as large as the US ones.

    Janet: I’ve had older frost free refrigerators that cycled a defrost of the freezer and thereby sent a small rivlet of water through the cooler area to the drip pan under the refrigerator; and it indeed needed to be maintained. My most recent fridge doesn’t seem to have the same technology and just needs to be wiped out with a good liquid cleanser or disolved baking soda on occasion.

  • Don
    February 21, 2012 8:00pm

    I have an american refrigerator with french doors.

    Do not know why French people have smaller refrigerators.

    Maybe French go to market daily for food while Americans tend to go once a week so they need more space.

  • Jack
    February 21, 2012 8:06pm

    This reminds me of the story about George W. Bush saying that the problem with the French was that they didn’t have a word for “entrepreneur.” Also, bottom-freezer units are by far the best choice, unless you are four feet tall. I get tired of having to hunch down to see what’s in the fridge. Cheers!

  • February 21, 2012 8:28pm

    American fridges already have double doors, so the modification of having the freezer at the bottom (which is a dream, so are the drawers!) makes it European, and since a German Fridge would be a hard sell, they call it a French fridge.

    My normal larger-size German fridge has a single door for fridge at the top and freezer at the bottom. I guess the addition of double doors makes it seem like American fridges, and thus becomes American one.

    What I find odd is that the doors on American fridges are for separate functions. The left for the freezer, the right for the fridge proper. Having double doors on the fridge part just means the cold air has more gaps to escape from.

  • February 21, 2012 9:33pm

    My Fisher & Paykel has one fine feature, a series of supports on the side walls into which the glass shelves slide. This lets you arrange the interior space with more flexibility than some that will only allow a few adjustments. A bottom freezer is a must as now I can find my food in an upright position instead of crouching and causing major back pain. Accessing frozen food well labeled is a snap when looking down into the 3 freezer drawers and bending from the waist won’t lead to needing a chiropractor. It is counter depth which loses a bit of square footage but seems to eliminate the things that got shuttled into the back just out of view until they died so it is not really a loss. I wish it had one more shelf of vertical space as there are always occasions where there is never enough room before a party. Pay special attention to door shelves as my previous fridge would not hold an open bottle of wine upright. Look at everything and bring measurements as this piece of your kitchen will be a pleasure to use or drive you crazy if it isn’t the right one. Good luck.

  • nilda
    February 21, 2012 9:39pm

    David: I bought the fridge, for my house, in an American style store in Europe. Both, the fridge and freezer, are large. For me, “less” is not more. I’m sorry, Mies van der Rohe.

    I’m lucky! live in Spain half the year and feel happy with its outgoing, joyful culture, even now in hard times. I also truly enjoy the American way of life and their personality: very relax, polite and fun, fun, fun!! No inferiority complex!

    As for the young woman in the ad, I could say that, if she is a mistress she will wear high heels to impress her lover when he comes to visit. Otherwise, the wife will wear comfortable, but attractive shoes, especially if she has kids

  • February 21, 2012 10:10pm

    I am as baffled as you are.

  • mazz
    February 21, 2012 10:21pm

    david follow your fab blog and have come to meet you at signings

    as a semi old [cake/pudding cook] from u k ……here are some observations……

    we talk of “french doors” from main building to another area…ie 2 doors usually same width and full 2 metres+ height that open out to steps, garden, patio or area….[so that may be an explanation]….for the name

    but…. may i suggest you buy , following the following criteria….

    a] 3 year guarantee on motors b] seeable temperature controls [i like centigrade , but up to you] fridge down to +2 degrees c; freezer down to -25 degrees c ;to allow frequent door opening ( we made and stored our icecreams at [i think] -35 degrees c….c] buy extra shelves, for fridge….[[[you may be able to haggle, but at least no extra delivery charge if applicable]]]….but freezer shelves normally fixed, so buy special freezer/plastic boxes, ….
    d] preferbly put on wheels with one lockable; e] put rubber back -stops on back of both appliances, [or screw 10 X 10 cm rubber covered batten to wall] to allow air circulation AND place other end of kitchen area and as far away from oven heat, as possible….. we had little refrid under bench for bits and pieces…..
    …..white enamel cheaper than s/s….the best i’ve ever used were from GRAM…..danish i think,[called semi professional ? ] or LIEBHER….german…..

    should be able to find trade source through google?

    i promise no trade connection….. but have set-up 4 pudding kitchens in last 12/14 years…..i have theories about the floor and walls too…..but….david suggest you email to me if you want more details

  • Philip
    February 21, 2012 10:26pm

    It’s not about doors. And it is certainly not about size, though this gets closer to the truth. It is about the feeling that the fridge has when it is empty. And the attitude it holds silently for its owner. The American fridge is polite and cheerful, but secretly despises. The French fridge does not kiss and tell.

  • Robin willis
    February 21, 2012 10:26pm

    Its the dually thing. My french relatives date this back to Dallas… Where Larry Hagman went the refridgerator got a glass of ice and poured himself a stiff one. It’s every late middle age bourgeois guys dream. C’est vrai!

  • February 21, 2012 10:42pm

    Oh David! I just love your blog and your writing! Loved your reply to Three-Cookies’ comment. :D absolutely hilarious.

  • Cyndy
    February 21, 2012 11:19pm

    In our house each one of us is assigned one side of the fridge. My husband adores buying myriad small jars of condiments, of which he uses one teaspoon each. The rest of it lives in the fridge forever. If you open his door, stuff comes tumbling out. I tend to keep my side neater, albeit fewer items (though bigger). If one of us finds something of the others’ in our side, we are allowed to yell “ENCROACHMENT!!!!” I love this style fridge. Very democratic.

  • Patricia
    February 21, 2012 11:37pm

    Just say no! to ‘french door’ refrigerators; had one and did not like it at all and side by side refrigerators are useless for keeping anything in. The best IMHO is a 20 to 25 cubic foot refrigerator with a pull out bottom freezer. Good luck in filling your kitchen with the best!

  • February 21, 2012 11:54pm

    I have that American ‘french-door’ model, well, actually I have a 25.5 cubic foot, G.E. I LOVE that I can adjust shelves, place a pedestal cake plate in the thing, if I like, but my number one fav factor is that there is no ice maker in the door. (Those things don’t fair well and tend to break easily.) I do have filtered water and controls in the door, though, and an ice maker drawer in the freezer. My freezer has three sliding drawers.

    (I opted for my fridge over a new car, three years ago. I ain’t never looked back. ;) Besides, I didn’t want the Yugo.)

    February 21, 2012 11:57pm

    French doors, yes. LG, absolutely not!! At four years old, mine is falling apart
    ! Go Sub Zero.

  • February 22, 2012 12:01am

    The top photo is the Americanized concept of a French fridge. Once you purchase it, your life will immediately improve. You’ll soon have a live-in “assistant” who is a whiz at giving parties, preparing canapes and has a first-class education in white wines. You’ll have more friends, because they have found out about your “assistant” and what a truly amazing party organizer she is. Your social life will improve, you’ll be promoted at work with a larger salary, and then you’ll find it necessary to purchase an even bigger fridge. Soon you’ll have a larger house, bigger mortgage, more bills, etc.

    The bottom photo is then the French version. It only has some bottles of water (refilled from the tap) and some leeks, because that’s all you have left after spending the huge sum for the fridge. No assistant, no parties, no promotion – but hey, think of the money you’ll save for your vacation!!!


  • Sissy
    February 22, 2012 12:29am

    All I can say is they just don’t make appliances like they used to. My fridge lasted for at least 25 years then I sold the house and the appliances with it. I never had a repairman out to work on any of my appliances except the dishwasher. The new appliances I have are constantly breaking and the oven thermostat does not heat consistently. The repairman said the old guys really knew how to make thermostats on the older ranges. Very disappointing…and makes me angry whenever I think about it.

  • February 22, 2012 12:54am

    Probably the only difference is the temperature settings and maybe warranty.

  • Judi Suttles
    February 22, 2012 1:26am

    I bought this fridge (the French Door model) and I love it. Whatever the difference-I don’t care! It is great.

  • Caroline
    February 22, 2012 2:06am

    Ok, here’s something that nobody but me will tell you about a french door fridge. They FART! Yes, pneumatically expel a puff of food scented air and make an embarassing fluffy sound when you close the door. They’re also de rigeur in all the RHoNJ remodelled kitchens here in Bergen County – David, please steer clear. So excited, this is my first comment to you – hope you’re excited, too!

  • Cyndy
    February 22, 2012 2:35am

    I have two French-door fridges (different brands), and they must take Gas-X behind my back because neither one of them has ever farted. Maybe there’s something wrong with yours?

    And yes, NO to LG!

  • KT
    February 22, 2012 3:08am

    In Australia we also call them french door refrigerators??? Why I have no idea and although the Australian dollar is higher than the US, Sub-Zero fridges are double the price of the US. I bought a top of the line Liebherr fridge and it has been nothing but trouble (repaired 6 times in 3 years) and the excuse is European fridges don’t cope with our hot summers! Next time I will buy one of the cheaper Korean fridges. The best thing I had installed in my kitchen was a Zip tap which gives boiling and chilled water via a seperate tap – removes the need for a kettle or the cold water in the fridge – it also filters the water – I LOVE it!

  • LeeLee
    February 22, 2012 3:09am

    The difference is clearly the skinny French woman in heels, not the imaginary overweight American in flats or barefoot (me!). That said, I have a version of this fridge. It’s a love/hate thing. Generally love it, but I have learned two important things. First, you must open and close each door separately for it to work properly and seal effectively (otherwise beep, beep, beep and premature gasket wear). Second, the interior is made of cheap plastic like most other fridges meaning Sears Parts and I have kept up a close friendship for replacement parts. Don’t throw out the parts diagram that comes with it if you get it. At least mine has never farted in five years.

    Best of luck on all your choices. Renovation is such an exciting adventure. The hard part is that after you’re done, you have all this knowledge (shopping for everything) that you can only use if you renovate again or find a neighbor or friend in process to share it with. Hence the flipping craze was born? Thanks for sharing your adventures with your usual good humor.

  • February 22, 2012 3:40am

    When we moved to France 12 years ago, we bought a big American Sub-Zero frigo with a built-in ice maker so we could have lots of ice when we had guests. Only problem is finding new parts (very expensive) and qualified repair people to fix the thing! If I could turn back the clock (or when the Sub Zero dies) I’d get a big French one with the flippy doors instead. I also like French frigos with the drawer compartments in the freezer section – they’re a great way to keep everything organized.

  • February 22, 2012 3:44am

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think I’ll go with the French version…

  • ken
    February 22, 2012 3:56am

    we rent a house in the south of france every year. several years ago madame said she had a surprise for us. it was a real fridge. americaine. it truly makes a difference.
    our friends who live there are french and have large fridges too. nothing like the pictures though.

  • Bebe
    February 22, 2012 4:01am

    French doors – double doors that open in the center (usually having glass panels framed in wood, but never mind that). Usually used on patios. Someone at LG decided to get sexy and call that a “French-door” refrigerator. I am more French than that refrigerator! And I can buy a “French-door” refrigerator at Lowe’s in Burbank (CA).

  • Jennifer
    February 22, 2012 4:06am

    David two words…SIZE MATTERS

    How clever of you to do this post, you’ve received some really great info on buying, Now how about the dishwasher? I spent a HUGE amount of time researching my purchase. Agree with Cyndy – no LG.

    On your first comment: explain to an Italian what Italian dressing is, or to an Irishman what Irish Cream is HA!

  • Dimmy
    February 22, 2012 4:19am

    ‘Every French person I’ve tried to explain what “French doors” are to (or what “French cut” green beans are) have looked at me like I’m insane.’

    What about French kiss? What’s their reaction?

  • krissy
    February 22, 2012 4:40am

    the french one has a lot more wine….

  • Mj
    February 22, 2012 4:59am

    Does even France produce decent refrigerator? Top one is LG…. Well not American either. Haha

  • February 22, 2012 6:02am

    How much do I LOVE the comments on this article!
    For the record, I have a GE Monogram in America. See here:
    It has a big door on top for the refrigerator.
    And a big drawer on the bottom for the freezer.
    It’s awesome, but it’s not very deep. (Only 23 inches and 7/8!)
    So that kinda stinks. Who knew you needed more than two feet of fridge depth to be happy.

  • Natalia Rivera
    February 22, 2012 7:38am

    The French fridge only makes one or two ice cubes at a time.

  • February 22, 2012 7:56am

    i love france and french win for me

  • February 22, 2012 8:40am

    We actually own the bottom one and as much as I love the doors on the top portion, constantly bending and rummaging through the deep bins on the bottom freezer is bothersome. Not to mention the freezer is difficult to organize and you easily loose track of everything in it.

  • February 22, 2012 9:28am

    The difference is one advertisement is for the French market and one for the American?
    Is it an réfrigérateur américain because it’s so big?! And the other one isn’t a French fridge but a French-door fridge.

    Anyway, you’re getting one of those?

  • February 22, 2012 11:50am

    réfrigérateur américain are pretty nice, french fridge are nice too both are goods with there own styles

  • Sylvie
    February 22, 2012 2:46pm

    What is known as an “american refrigerator” in France is usually a fairly big combination of refrigerator on one side and freezer on the other, with an icecube dispenser mounted on the freezer door. Typically, french refrigerators are just that, refrigerators, with an small inside freezer, where you can make one tray of ice cubes and keep frozen goods for a limited amount of time. They are often just 60 cms wide (60 cms being the standard appliance width in France). Then you get the combination type machine : refrigerator and freezer stacked vertically, with the freezer part usually consisting of 2 or 3 drawers. It’s all just a question of size… French kitchens, especially in apartments, are usually rather small and can’t accomodate a big american-type refrigerator, who are also deemed too power greedy ! House owners often have a simple refrigerator in their kitchen, and a big freezer in the garage or pantry or cellar, depending on what space they have.
    For my part, I indulged myself when my refrigerator decided to retire himself, and bought a nice american style Samsung, and even if it takes quite a bit of my kitchen space, I never regretted my decision. Just being able to always have ice cubes handy without bothering to check if the tray has been refilled, or juggling a water-filled tray from the sink to the freezer, was worth it !

  • February 22, 2012 3:27pm

    The difference is that a thin, shapely, happy, sexy French woman enhances the French (door) refrigerator. (If a French woman is considering buying a French refrigerator, she can also rest assured that she will look good when using it.)
    With the American ones, the woman is not included…

  • F
    February 22, 2012 4:05pm

    Always it’s about beautiful woman :)
    She makes biiiiiiiiiiiiig difference :)

  • Vlad
    February 22, 2012 4:31pm

    Simple answer. French people go to the market daily while the americans pack the refrigerator and especially the freezer once a week if not less often.

  • Dana
    February 22, 2012 4:56pm

    Clearly the difference is the model-esque woman in front of the fridge thatakes it French! ;)

  • February 22, 2012 5:03pm
    David Lebovitz

    Vlad: I don’t know many people in Paris who have the time to go to the market, or supermarket, daily. Most of my friends work pretty long hours – they probably wish they could!

    Sylvie: I never thought I’d miss ice until I started using it again. I put one cube in my morning orange juice, which people here think is funny..but they do it in Portugal. And I put ice in rosé – which people here in Paris also think is funny…but they do it in Marseille (lots of it). And I wouldn’t mess with those folks in Marseille.

  • Laurence
    February 22, 2012 5:43pm

    These refrigerators are identical….it’s just that the one sold in an American catalogue refers to it being a ‘French door’ refrigerator (it is an American fridge, but with french doors – ie side by side with no central pillar between them), whereas in France it is just referred to as a Regrigerateur Americain since that is where it is made.

    I assume David was just pointing out the irony of the marketing….

  • Bebe
    February 22, 2012 6:42pm

    The only refrigerators I ever saw – in my friend’s Paris apartment and later in Bercheres – was a miniature by our standards, and not self-defrosting. I don’t recall its having much of a freezer, if anything more than an ice cube area. She bought everything that would have needed refrigeration fresh every day and went for milk that was in sealed cartons that required no refrigeration. (Not like our fresh milk!)

    I came upon this forum that may be of interest to you. It’s You may already have your sourcing done, but….

  • Vicki
    February 22, 2012 6:44pm

    I’ve shopped myself silly for 18 months trying to chose the right one. Narrowed search to “French door” freezer on the bottom model, with Samsung the clear the winner. If your new kitchen can accommodate it, go for it. Forget the semantics. There are many Samsung styles and sizes from which to choose. Enjoy!

    And, yes, Laurence, I agree with your observation. The Mad Men are never far from our lives.

  • Bebe
    February 22, 2012 6:47pm

    Forgive fractured grammar in last post. Editing in midstream without proofing the entire post is NOT a good idea.

    I hadn’t read Sylvie’s post when I wrote mine. She is clearly familiar with the typical French fridge. Space and the cost of power are prohibiting factors.

  • Steve
    February 22, 2012 7:00pm

    The American version is sexy on its own, the French needs to show a little leg.

  • Nuria
    February 22, 2012 7:58pm

    Don´t get an LG is the worst quality I have ever seen, i have a side by side LG and the quality inside is just terrrible plastic breaks, nothing stays on place, and its hard to clean .The company doesn´t help at all and the materials inside are not on guarantee

  • Shari
    February 22, 2012 8:18pm

    Yes, I’m sure it’s all about the ice and water dispenser in the door. You know how Americans hate to get their water out of the tap. : )

  • Michael
    February 22, 2012 11:04pm

    America is a life style much like France. Most American families (the ones with kids and/or suburbanites) have or had two refrigs and a freezer. We did invent conspicuous consumption after all. No, seriously, Americans use to go shopping once a week–usually on Saturday mornings. Pay days were Friday’s or Thursday afternoon. Also Americans had gardens so we canned or froze for the winter months. Very different from a village or urban lifestyle where one shopped daily. Now don’t get me wrong, fresh is better. But let’s face it, until Julia most Americans weren’t adventurous eaters to put it mildly. The American table was bountiful but boring. Meat, potatoes and pie would satisfy most all.

    But David, don’t lose sight of where you are, Paris, France; the likely service you will get when it breaks ( will you make them ice cream, fudge or rice-crispy treats? Mais -oui!); your lack of floor space; and lastly how you live. I think I read you dismayed many an errant François at le supermarché over the quantity of your purchases.

  • Myrna
    February 23, 2012 1:48am

    I have the one pictured in your photo! , but its a Jennair – same interior and control panel placement Its been great and have had no issues with it over the 5 years we’ve had it.. Living in a tiny house in San Francisco, I still vote for the American version. The French doors make the fridge managable in a small space. We can still squeeze past each other with the doors open, which we could not do with our older full door version. Even a small French version which could fit under the counter, has a large door when opened and in a galley style kichen is a pain. So go for it is my advice ( and who am I to advice on your kitchen plans, but anyhoo) beside you can use all those ice cubes to random abandon

  • February 23, 2012 2:45am

    oh too funny! turn-about is fair play, then. for years my (ongoing stream of ) French house-guests have laughed about the “french” things we have in in America that they didn’t know were french: doors, fries, beans, braids, kisses, coffee presses, toast…

  • Mr Z
    February 23, 2012 4:09am

    I have seen these advertised with great fanfare in the Philippines. I can’t imagine assembling anything that required an entire shelf, then keeping the young’uns from molesting it.

    Never mind the nannies.

    My choice is actually Samsung – they have one design, in the ‘American Style’ with side by side refrigerator and freezer, but the entire ice mechanism is in the door panel, so I don’t lose shelf space to the ice machine. Nice. Price is a killer though.

    YMMV :D

    Mr Z

  • Heather H
    February 23, 2012 4:11am

    I am guessing the difference (besides the pretty woman) is the French one is counter depth, makinging it smaller.

  • February 23, 2012 5:27am

    My “american” refrigerator sits in the garage stock dutifully with local beers and homemade proscuitto. This is where dreams are made.

  • Diane C
    February 23, 2012 1:28pm

    Wine in the French fridge, beer in the American?

  • Catherine Negus
    February 23, 2012 4:26pm

    Canadians don’t understand why Americans call back bacon, “Canadian bacon”, either. There’s even been a movie made (comedy, of course) entitled “Canadian Bacon”. There’s nothing that makes it “Canadian”; it’s just back bacon.

    My advice on refrigerators? People love the concept of “ice and water” in the door, but if you’re considering this, remember that the mechanism for this takes up a lot of valuable fridge space. You also have to run a water line to the back of the fridge, which can be something else that can possibly break at some point. It takes a lot less space to simply keep a tray or two of ice in the freezer.

    As someone who does a lot of baking from home, I would also recommend a fridge with shelves with enough width and depth to accommodate large baking pans (mine comfortably fits 12″ x 18″ pans).

    Of course, being Canadian, I’ve got a few amazing recipes that you could use that maple syrup in. :)

  • sam
    February 23, 2012 6:09pm

    -just got french door Electorlux-sliding shelves, etc. love it…can arrange shelves to fit large turkey, much better than a side-by-side…I use plastic bins to make things easy to pull out, and similar in freezer drawer, so no problem sorting and getting stiff out of bottom that actually has 2 drawers…so much better than side-by-side,esp.if you are looking to store odd shaped things and do a bit of entertaining.

  • heather
    February 25, 2012 7:38pm

    Obviously the French one is filled with Champagne.

  • Robin
    February 25, 2012 9:46pm

    I have a 15! Year old liebherr which I adore. The freezer unit on the top and stays very cold. The refrigerator part never needs defrosting. And it is beautiful

  • February 25, 2012 10:16pm

    Easy: French = tiny, American = HUGE

  • Paul
    February 26, 2012 12:52am

    The French Refrig devotes an entire shelf to wine.

  • February 26, 2012 10:40am

    American: Leeks, Vodka, olives, diet soda

    French: Quiche! Bread! Potatoes! Wine!

    In other words, the American stylish set who can afford this refridgerator get their daily calories from martinis. Food=scary!

  • AMR
    February 27, 2012 12:13am

    You will notice the American fridge has a much brighter interior light…good for eating in the middle of the night/all night. The French sleep.

  • Jack Etsweiler
    February 27, 2012 7:40pm

    Soupirail. C’est soupirail. Ouverture pratiquée pour donner du jour ou de l’air à une cave ou à un autre lieu souterrain. Soupirail.

  • February 27, 2012 8:36pm

    If you don’t mind my two cents: make sure your hinges and your slides for cupboard doors and drawers are a good high quality. My hubby imports these and one doesn’t usually consider that and renovators try to get away with cheap ones which break. Especially when your kitchen is constantly used…it is the little things like this where contractors save themselves more money be charging the best and installing the worst.

    Hinges too….it’s not fun when a hinge breaks off after a year. A slide is what the drawers sits on to open an close…try to make sure the quality of these are not just good but excellent

    Good luck in your move

  • Jack Etsweiler
    February 27, 2012 9:17pm

    I had to inject the soupirail clarification here, since the thread on the new digs was already closed. Grrrr.

  • IPBrian
    February 27, 2012 11:48pm

    It seems to me, the American fridge has almost no food in it…while the french one is full of awesome home made eats. Hmmmmm

  • Chungwan
    March 1, 2012 9:11am

    I’ll take a stab….The American fridge is so OC.

  • John
    March 2, 2012 7:30pm

    Easy – French fridges are made in Germany and American ones in Japan and Korea. :)
    “French” might refer to a pair of doors that part in the middle. I dislike them.
    – We have a Liebherr and love it. The drawers in the freezer compartment mean you can pack it full and still access everything.

  • March 5, 2012 5:46pm

    Well as far as I know the refrigérateur Américain for us, is a fridge with double doors with half freezer and half fridge … as for the refrigerator with double door I would also have called it refrigérateur Américain as it has double doors …french fridges remain a one door thingy for me. And I suspect a clever marketing ploy … funny when here moste people dream of the double door fridge/freezer US combination … we talk on french double door that give an elegant view of a well manicured lawn … so maybe it refers to the fact that both door open onto the same space. Still for me if its a fridge with doble door wide enough for catering size platers …its a US style fridge !

  • March 14, 2012 1:09pm

    …is the ice maker :-)

  • Phil
    March 19, 2012 2:23am

    Is it that the French refrigerator is incapable of stopping German food from going bad?