Five things they don’t tell you about supermarkets in France

A lighthearted look at grocery shopping at the supermarché

Expect some differences in a French supermarket compared to your home country
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1. La saison

Seasonal items include pillows, duvets and bed linen, which appear without fail every spring. The reason for this is unclear.

Sauerkraut is also seasonal, being considered more sweet and tender at the end of August than at other times of the year.

Yes, la choucroute nouvelle exists.


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2. La caissière

The cashier is there to scan your shopping and take your payment.

They might smile, they might even exchange a few light-hearted remarks, but unless they are operating a blabla caisse (slower check-out where chit-chat is encouraged) do not expect social interaction as a matter of course.

Et alors?

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3. Les responsables

Each counter has specialised staff. Asking someone behind the butchery counter to slice your bread will not work.

You need to go to the customer service desk and ask them to call the responsable of the boulangerie who has undergone training to operate the slicer.

Je vous en prie!

4. Le choix

Exotic foreign foods, such as baked beans and ginger nuts, have become widely available in French supermarkets but are segregated from ‘proper’ French foods.

Do not look for marmalade on the shelf beside normal orange jam – you will find it on the international shelf alongside the Mexican taco kits.

C’est logique!

Read more: Suggestions for French alternatives to popular British food

5. Les commandes

Either in person or by phone, you can order items in advance, such as six sliced loaves, a birthday cake, or a deboned and rolled leg of lamb for Easter.

You can even reserve a large baker’s sack of leftover dry bread (only €5) to feed to your sheep.

A bientôt!

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