Wondering what to buy in a French supermarket? These are our favourite products to hunt out.
I love shopping in French supermarkets; a holiday across the Channel isn’t complete without a trip to at least two. Overcome with “I can’t get this at home” desire, I tend to go a little mad and fill le chariot with all manner of delicious treats. These then used to sit in the cupboard, being kept for a special occasion. Happily, we’ve now decided that treats are to be enjoyed, and that sooner or later we’ll be back to France and wheeling round Leclerc or Carrefour (my favourite shops) again, restocking our shelves.
Now, rather than let our purchases sit on our shelves unused, we pop open the tin, bottle or jar and enjoy. It’s not just food, though; I also I love the stationery – books of clear pockets are especially bargainous. Silicon bakeware is amazingly cheap too.
On our last trip, we had a car in France but were travelling back to London from Somerset by public transport; this restricted the amount we could buy, otherwise I would have stocked up on wine as well. 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 and exchange rates, 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; but 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!
Not pictured is French supermarket “basics” range cheeses, I always stock with Emmental, Gruyère and Comte, all of which are real winners in terms of price and quality. Also worth buying are saucissons, tinned fish – so many more interesting flavours than we have, jars of anchovies and lots of flavoured Dijon mustard.
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) Or check out my Three Autumnal Ingredients.
What is your favourite holiday bargain?
Post published August 2013, updated July 2017.