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 :)


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