French Supermarket Shopping – My top buys and tips

French Tartines

French supermarkets always have have a wondrous range of spreads, perfect for your tartine. Banania (chocolate, cereal and banana) €2.65, speculoos (bought to compare with the Lotus brand now available in the UK) €3.38, pear speculoos (€2.81) , malted milk spread €2.60, salt caramel chocolate spread €3.05

I love French supermarket shopping, and if left unchecked I do tend to go a little mad and fill le chariot with all manner of things which will languish unloved at the back of the cupboard.

My holiday is not complete if I do not whizz round at least 2 hypermarkets (E.Leclerc & Carrefour are my favourites) and another couple of smaller supermarkets.    As well as the food I love the stationery – books of clear pockets are especially bargainous, silicon bakeware is amazingly cheap too.

Although we had a car in France we were travelling back to London from Ed’s parents’ house by public transport or I would have stocked up on wine too.   I remember one trip many many years ago  when we discovered that we could fit two cases of wine under each of the front seats of the then boyfriend’s Fiat Panda.

My top tips for a successful French supermarket stock up.

  • Have a Euro coin handy for the trolley.
  • Take your own bags – I have a stash of the large reusable ones – and have collected lots of Brittany themed ones – so much more enjoyable to use than ones from the UK supermarkets.
  • Buy stuff as you see it, ranges vary hugely from chain to chain.
  • Allow at least 90 minutes for a big shop on your last day before getting the ferry.
  • Buy cheese on the last day – remember to take a cool bag and ice packs with you on holiday.
  • Be aware of British prices, the days of giant packs of washing powder and razor blades being considerably cheaper are long gone.
  • The regional produce aisle is well worth checking out and will have great quality items from small producers.
  • I find the Reflets de France range from Carrefour is excellent, if you miss out Ocado now carry selected items.
  • Make sure you have enough room in the car.  It is a long way home if you end up with a case of wine on your lap!
Rillettes

Ed adores rillettes, and although fresh are best tinned are a fairly adequate substitute which have the advantage of lasting for months in the store cupboard. €1.67 each.

Galette pan

After a holiday in Brittany you will want to make gallettes at home! Galette pan €11.50 (my favourite frying pan is a Tefal one), batter spreader €1.07

Silicon baking trays

Silicon baking trays are far cheaper than the ones in the UK. The black canelle mould is made by Lékué and sold as supermarket own brand. €3 – 6 per piece.

Verrine glasses

Verrine glasses €4 (used here)

Tinned gratins

At €1.05 & €2.30 a tin you cannot go wrong for these. Perfect for comfort food on a cold winter’s evening when you cannot be bothered to cook. Will update once I have tried them.

Duck Gizzards

I love gizzards in salads, lightly fry, splash some raspberry vinegar over and serve on a bed of lettuce. You also get massive of duck fat to use for roast potatoes at a later date. €3.96

Ble Noir for Gallettes

Ble noir for making gallettes €2.15 / kg

Pink Pralines

Pink pralines, oh so pretty, and I have a few ideas for these. €3.90 / 400g

Chestnut Puree

Mixed into whipped cream this makes a very quick and easy pudding, I prefer the mini cans as it is very sweet. You can buy this in the UK, but it is cheaper in France €3.10 4 x 100g.

French Yoghurt containers

I deliberately bought some yoghurts in these lovely blue pots so I had the pots for styling. Stashed into my prop box. I think a posy of spring flowers would also look charming in them.

Salt Caramel

Salted caramel spread made with creme fraiche, €3.50 – €5.50 depending on brand. Looking forward to tasting the difference and making my own.

Salt Caramels

Salted caramels. A present for a friend €6.95

Sea Salt

French sea salt €1.63

Verrine glasses

Verrine glasses (used here)  €4.

Not pictured is French supermarket “basics” range cheeses, I always stock upon Emmental (€1.70 / 250g), Gruyere (€3.40 / 250g) and Comte (€3 / 200g).

Also worth consideration for inspiration are French food magazines and delightful themed mini cookbook (Ed, of course, buys all the French sailing magazines, which in turn allows me to buy more cookery magazine and books)

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About Helen

Helen Best-Shaw is a freelance writer, who has been writing about achievable and affordable food on Fuss Free Flavours since 2007. She also contributes articles and recipes to a number of online and print food magazines.

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Comments

  1. It’s really interesting to see how others find our supermarket food here in France, I do the same when I go to England and bring back a reserve of curry sauces, Yorkshire tea and shortbread biscuits.
    However, I think you’ll be disappointed with the canned gratin dauphinois and tartiflette. I find the taste of those particular canned foods acid and artificial. It doesn’t come close to the real thing so don’t let that put you off on your next visit to a French restaurant. In fact they aren’t that difficult to make, although it does take a bit longer than opening a can and reheating the contents but it is well worth it.
    The frozen Carrefour meals are marginally better tasting if you’d like that as a homecoming supper after your channel hop.

  2. Some great finds. I love shopping in France. My mother in law picked up some little silver spoons there that are perfect for parties. Plus, I’m intrigued by the idea of your “prop box”!

  3. I haven’t been to France in years, but used to live on the France/Belgium border as a child. When we went to Barcelona a few years ago we went to Carrefour and it was brilliant! I have such vivid memories of food shopping with my Mum in France.

    Must get myself back there soon. :)

  4. A great list Helen, I love the tartine spreads and I’m going to look out for the gizzards, we’ve not tried them. I’ll be doing my supermarket shop soon so will be taking some advice from you. We have the girl and dog so not too much space, so like you we don’t bother with wine, I’d far rather foodie treats!

  5. So many memories of shopping in France, we went for a month during summer every year for about 15 years when the children was younger, would go now but the Euro is a bit rubbish!
    But thanks for the memories.

  6. The spreads look amazing! The chesnut cream packaging is so gorgeous and typically french. Looks like you got some good bargains – can’t get over how cheap those silicone pans are – I have a floral one similar to the brown one and cost about £20 from Pampered Chef!

    • I do love my silicone pans. the way to test them is to fold and pinch, if they lose colour where they are folded they are not pure silicone and will stick. Even so I still use cake release in the more intricate ones.

  7. I am so jealous! I love french supermarket shops! I’m going to Italy on sunday though so i’m looking forward to doing this!

  8. Some fantastic finds Helen! I love wandering around a supermarket in any foreign country, so fascinating

  9. Is that Ovaltine spread??! [averting gaze from some of the other stuff here]

  10. Janna gay says:

    My daughter and I enjoyed a trip to cite Europe recently. Found quite a few things cheaper. She has 4 small kids who are always hungry ! She found tinned ravioli went down well for lunches & lots of lovely yoghurt . Kids loved the little wrapped jam cakes.
    We are going again & would welcome an idea of what’s cheaper and good to try. I was disappointed with the wine
    I bought . Tried wolf blass as good in uk. But it was awful sadly.

    • Always go for the mid priced French wine. I love that all the supermarkets have a local section too, as long as you stay away from the cheapest lines then you really cannot go that wrong.

  11. Brilliant finds. Always am amazed at the yummy things you can find when on holiday.

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