French search engine Exalead is now growing its user base faster than Google or any of its rivals.

The site grew its share 16.1% between April and May, while Google grew 0.4%, Yahoo! fell 7.1% and MSN was down 5.6%, according to XiTi Monitor.

Other winning search engines were 9online (up 9.9%), Orange (up 4.4%) and Ask (up 4.2%) – but Exalead’s biggest growth still only saw it claim a 0.07% share of the French search market, against Google’s 89.33%.

Powered by Serendipity search technology, the site has risen to prominence in recent months, is available in multi-lingual pan-European versions that include a UK version and has a deal to provide the search for the European Union’s planned Quaero multimedia search service.

Exalead last week scored a deal to power the search service for a French 118 directory enquiries service.

CEO Francois Bourdoncle this week said the site was getting a million unique monthly users and had indexed 8bn web pages, which he said made it the third largest web search index.

Blogger Daniel Olivo-Ruza wrote:

“Exalead is a good point to start your Google-less day. This search engine is really fast and has some nice features. One is a small preview picture of the pages listed in the result windows, so you can check and sort out unimportant results only by a quick look at the thumbnail instead of going to the page itself.”