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






  • 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.

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

  • i love france and french win for me

  • 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.

  • 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?

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

  • 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 !

  • 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…

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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….

  • 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….

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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

  • 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. : )

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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…

  • 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

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

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

  • Wine in the French fridge, beer in the American?

  • 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. :)

  • -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.

  • Obviously the French one is filled with Champagne.

  • 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

  • Easy: French = tiny, American = HUGE

  • The French Refrig devotes an entire shelf to wine.

  • 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!

  • 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.

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

  • 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

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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 !

  • …is the ice maker :-)

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