A Visual Guide to the French Grocery Store

• 20 May 2010

Since I've had several people ask me what they should pick up at the grocery store when in France, I thought it would be helpful to offer a little guide that includes pictures, versus a list. It's easy to feel overwhelmed inside a foreign grocery store, especially when you know there are wonderful things to be had, but you're not sure how to find them and read the labels! I created this post in hopes that you will enjoy yourself more, find what you want/need, and be able to come out of there with some pretty special things. Ben and I find that a trip to any French grocery store is a real highlight!

1 - French Decorating Magazines - there are many and you probably won't love them all, but there are a few gems. My favorite to date is Marie Claire Maison, although the Deco Idées and Maisons Coté Ouest look awfully promising. Can't wait to sit down with them for a little breather.






















2 - Labello Lipcare - the best lipcare in the world. Hands down. Love the "classic" and the "hydracare".























3 - Miniature dessert containers and spoons. I used mine here.
















4 - Almond Flour - as far as I know it's only available in the US via online sources, so buying it here in small quantities is very ideal. I purchased this solely for the purpose of trying my hand at macaroons.














5 - Fleur de Sel - Buy a container for you and buy a few for hostess gifts to have on hand (the brand on the far right is my favorite for gifts). This salt is amazing and really dresses up ordinary food. I really enjoy using it often. I realize you can find this in the US at stores like Williams Sonoma, but you not only will spend a lot less in France, you'll also have a fantastic selection.













6 - Maille Mustard - Again, Maille is available at nice grocery stores in the US, but typically only in the Dijon and Whole Grain varieties. In France you have about 10+ different types of Maille available in all sorts of sizes and containers. We love picking up our mustard here and schlepping it back to the States.


















7 - French Green Lentils - If you're a fan of Ina's delicious Lentil Sausage Soup, you will love the chance to pick up a few packages overseas at a great price. Using the French Green lentils in that recipe really does make a difference.














8 - La Fermière Vanilla Yogurt - Not only is the vanilla bean yogurt quite tasty, but the pots are perfect for pots de cremes. We typically buy and eat the yogurt, rinse the pots and them pack them in our suitcases amongst the socks and such. So far we haven't lost a single one! They are oven safe and are perfect for baking all sorts of custards.













8 - Dutch Process Cocoa - This is a wonderful type of cocoa to have around if you love to bake. It can be a little tricky finding it in the US, so stocking up on a few boxes is a good idea. Every now and again Van Houten offers cocoa in decorative containers, which make great gifts, so keep your eyes peeled for those too.




















9 - Petit Bateau Onesies - If you have the chance to hit a Carrefour (not the "market" version, but the big daddy version), then I'd like to add a couple of things to the list. First, make sure you grab a few Petit Bateau onesies for baby gifts. Also be sure to snag a few Sophie La Giraffe toys too. They are a classic French toy and are wonderful to present as gifts. School supplies are also fun to peruse!

Note: when you pack for your trip, make sure you include several empty, large, freezer-quality Ziploc bags. You'll find them quite useful when you pack up all your goodies. For whatever reason the ziplocs you buy in France are inferior to the ones available in the US and cost a lot more. The last thing you want is mustard all over your clothes and shoes or French lentils in every nook and cranny of your suitcase :)


24 comments:

Plan and Play said...

Thanks Stephanie, your post is so appropriate as we are leaving for France tomorrow. I can't wait to hit the grocery stores for some of this goodies.

Elena

Rachael said...

What an enchanting post! Thanks. :-)

Kris said...

Hey, Steph, you can find almond flour in most health food stores, typically in the gluten-free baking section. Trader Joe's also sells it, although, they still aren't in Utah if I recall correctly? Love you, sister!

Stephanie said...

Kris...so good to know! Oh how I miss Trader Joe's :(

Marlo said...

I love this post! It makes me pine for Paris. One other thing I liked at Carrefour was the L'Imagerie books for kids. Much cheaper than ordering from Amazon France or Canada. Can't wait to see your post on macarons.

hairyshoefairy said...

I love this!! I'm bookmarking it for future reference because someday I WILL go to France. You know, when we aren't racking up student loan debt anymore. It may be a while, but still.

Tamsin said...

Just thought I'd mention that I saw Petit Bateau at Costci (of all places!) just the other say.

michelle said...

Awesome post.

Whits said...

Thank you! I will look out for the french decorating mags when I'm there next month. I love this post!

LMorland said...

Amazing ... I equally stock up on Van Houten chocolate and Le Saunier de Camargue fleur de sel for presents, and also bring home French lentils as well as those lovely yogurt pots!(I didn't know about the lip balm, though -- good to know!)

Anderson said...

What a great post! When we get our buns back to France, this will be very useful. In the meantime, it will make me nostalgic. :)

Kate's mom said...

I have yet to visit France, but when I do, this will be so helpful!

Also, I've used Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal / Flour to successfully make macarons. It's available in our local Fry's - part of the Kroger family of stores. In Utah I think they have Fred Meyer and Smiths. It's expensive, but it's nice to have a quick source!

.caroline armelle. said...

great post!

i loved when my aunt would drive me to the carrefour in nice. it's crazy how cheap the petit bateau stuff is there.
thanks for the reminder. my parents are headed to france in a week and i'll have to give them a list of things to bring back for me!

LLH Designs said...

Camargue fleur de sel!!! Takes me back to Provence in a heartbeat. I stuffed several of those in my suitcase. Out now, so time for another trip!

CMN said...

FABULOUS post, Steph! Really love all the photos and recommendations. I may just have to copy your idea on my next big trip...

mimi charmante said...

having spent two weeks in france last month, I can't tell you how much I miss it - grocery store included~
have a marvelous rest of your weekend,
xx

KatyO! said...

I am just loving all your Paris posts. A) I'm currently 33 weeks pregnant and on bed rest so it's SO much fun to imagine I am on a babymoon to France and not on my living room couch and B)I have just started to plan out our trip to Paris for our 5 year wedding anniversary (in Sept 2011) and it's so helpful to hear about other's trips!

Good luck on the rest of your pregnancy

Tasha Stenning said...

i love your posts on normal everyday france. keep em coming.

Sarah said...

This is probably taboo, but I like to get the just add water mix for the galette du roi. I'll be on the lookout for some of the other things on my next trip. Lots of this stuff is available in Canada also. Apparently I took lip balm for granted when I was growing up!!

Marianna said...

I thought you might like to know that Labello is sold under the brand name NIVEA in the US, and can be found at drugstores all over.

Marianna said...

ps. Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom. Someday when make it to France I already have so many solid recommendations! Love it!

stephmodo said...

Marianna, I heard NIVEA bought them out but I've also heard it's a totally different product and not as good as Labello. Have you tried both individually? What are your thoughts?

Marianna said...

So according to my (breif) research on the product, NIVEA is the Non-Europe label. I am not fortunate to have any Labello so I can't compare side by side, but the NIVEA lip balm I have is made in Germany, where Labello is made. From what I can tell it is just marketed under a different name here. Kind of like the whole Hellman's/Best Foods thing. :)

I would love it if you did a test since you can actually have both at once. ;) Hope you're having a great time in Sonoma. Could the weather be any lovelier this weekend?!?

the husband said...

My wife read this post before we left for Paris in early June, and sure enough, we came home with our own set of ceramic yogurt pots. I couldn't get over how good the vanilla tasted then, and I can't get over how good the pots de creme is in them now! Thanks for the idea!

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