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Monday, September 9, 2013

Shopping at a French Grocery Store, E.LECLERC

Good morning travel blog friends!  I thought I would describe what it's like staying in France with something simple, like going to the grocery store. It's expensive eating out no matter if you're here in Vence, France or Houston, Texas, but more so here. So we went shopping at our local grocery store, 

The first thing I wanted to do is to learn how to pronounce it.  I looked at the store name and called it "e lek lerk".  Of course that's not right, so here it is! 
Forget the pronouncing the first "E"...that one doesn't count and you rarely pronounce the last letter in French words.  So the last "C" is silent.  It's pronounced, "Le Clair".  The next time you're in France and you see one of these grocery stores tell them, "Oh, there's "Le Clair, let's get some groceries".  Before going shopping make sure you bring your own tote bags because if you don't you have to buy theirs.

This store used to make you get a ticket to park in their parking lot and you got a token at the register to get out.  They did away with that. 

So Mary Alice and I parked in the lot and the first thing we did was get a basket. You need a 1 Euro coin, to put into the cart's chain lock and then it's yours for the shopping trip.  This assures you will return the cart to get your Euro back, kind of like ALDI stores at home. By the way, Nola and Randy taught us all these things 3 years ago when we first decided to stay in an apartment with a kitchen.
Getting a shopping cart

Cured Sausages

Orange juices

The store is laid out like most American grocery stores: fresh foods, deli, meats, drinks, soaps, etc.  There's even a cured sausage isle. That's big in France.

Machine weighs and spits out the price tag

Our first stop is the fresh fruit section where I bought a melon, some apples and peaches. You pick your fruit, bag it and then you weigh it and put the price sticker on the bag.  The scale is divided into fruits or vegetables (legumes).   So far the store still provides these thin plastic bags for free but I expect any day they may start charging for these too.

Beware! Horse meat on sale!
On this trip we wanted some ground beef for spaghetti and some patties for another meal. Beware! Beef here  is expensive compared to Texas. We're used to buying a nice steak for about $8 or roast for about $20.  You also have to watch out that you don't buy horse meat.  That's right, horse meat.  It's labeled "CHEVAL." I can't imagine eating this but some people do.

A $50 beef (bouef)  roast

If you like soft drinks you better like one of these choices: Pepsi, Coke, and Nola's favorite, Naragina (an orange soda).  The next time you're in Kroger take a look at the variety of soft drinks we have.  

I wanted some eggs so I got a half dozen brown ones.  I didn't see any other color or choice. There is a local market in Vence on Fridays and we can buy really fresh eggs from the "egg lady."  Six will do til then.

During all this, we ran into someone we know, the owner of the hotel we stayed at for a couple of days last year! I guess that makes us "natives", running into someone you know at the grocery store!

I found some honey butter last year that is so good on toast.  I got a jar which will last me for two weeks. We filled our basket and made our way to the cash register.  First things you put on the belt are your empty shopping bags so the clerk can check them if they want to, never seen them do that, but that's the protocol! (Another Nola tip!) You bag your own groceries  No problem, this was my first job when I was in high school at $1/hr.

We're almost done. Remember that 1 Euro coin in the basket, it's time to get it back.  You return the cart with the others, insert the locking chain and your coin pops out for another day.

So that's grocery shopping in France. It really makes me appreciate the super markets we have in the US, large, lots of variety, market driven, and customer friendly, that is if Dorothy Holland is checking you out. Friday is open air market day here in Vence, can't wait!  God bless Texas!


  1. Wayne,

    Sorry late getting around to email.

    Thanks for the update and a look at how blessed we are having HEB !!!!!!

    I like the IQ of the new camera. How are you liking it ????

    Have a fun and God Blessed trip - dave b.

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