Food Shopping in France
I have to admit that like many people, one of my favorite things to do in France is to peruse the isles of a supermarket, or for that matter, any little shop that has food items. We take for granted the amount of variety we have in our supermarkets, but I feel that France takes it to another level.
Take butter for instance. There are so many brands: President, Montfleuri, Elle & Vivre, Grand Fermage, Reflets de France, le Marin, Paysan Breton, and the supermarket’s own brand, Carrefour. Whew, I may have even missed some. Within all those brands, you’ll find sweet, salty, extra-fine, organic, and Beurre de Baratte, which is a type of churned butter.
This is only a section of the seafood isle, which seems to go on an on. There were seiches grillées (grilled cuttlefish/squid), crevettes au citron confit (shrimp in lemon confit), moules piment d’espelette (mussels in a pimiento sauce).
This supermarket just looked like a boring box from the outside but it was like walking into a wonderland of beautiful food when I entered! I love this section featuring les groseilles, or red and white currants. Maybe you have them where you come from, but I’m from San Francisco, and this is something I have never seen in a supermarket.
Another thing that I love about France is that they’ll have regional specialties in supermarkets. We were close to Montpellier and they had some lovely nougat and one of my favorite sweets, Calissons d’Aix! If you haven’t sampled this type of sweet, it has a sort of delicious, almond marzipan flavor. (Yep, that’s the featured photo!)
What I found really different is the fact that there was an “Italian Section”. We might have some of these items in a produce section back home, but they wouldn’t specify them as particularly Italian. One thing I could say for sure is that we don’t have la figue de Barbarie (prickly pears) in supermarkets and I sure loved seeing these. (We actually have them growing in various places in California, though.)
Now let’s take a look at those cute little shops in France that carry local products. These saucisson maison, house-made salami, are from the Ferme Auberge Linossier (Linossier Farmhouse Inn) in the tiny village of Burdignes (about 1 hour southwest of Lyon). Venture into the countryside and you’ll find farms that have little shops open to the public. Depending on what the farm specializes in, you can stock up on yogurt, cheese, jam, salami, juice, soup, pâté, etc.
Where else are you going to find chestnut yogurt?
The Ferme Auberge Linossier also carries liqueurs and ‘l’eau de vie” which is is like a light, fruity brandy. Don’t you just love these tiny bottles? This Bigallet brand from the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region offers various flavors, such as framboise (raspberry), fraise (strawberry), myrtille (blueberry), châtaigne (chestnut), and verveine (verbena). Bigallet offers different serving suggestions for enjoying these; for instance, the raspberry flavor can be enjoyed on ice or drizzled over a plum sorbet. The verbena can be served on ice, in an herbal tea, as a topping on ice cream, or mixed in a cocktail. Displaying them in this lovely basket is a nice touch, too. What a nice thing to bring home to your friends and family!
I love how they displayed the vintage boxes with the new products.
A seriously amazing candy shop can be found about an hour southwest of Lyon, in the village of Bourg-Argental. Les Bonbon de Julien manufactures their own candies which are all natural ingredients. You can take a basket and try not to go crazy! (My personal favorites are the caramels and chocolate caramels.) There are times when you can sit and watch the candy makers create hard candies and lollipops, which is a lot of fun, especially if you have kids.
Lastly, we can focus on local breweries and the beers that are sold in little shops, such as this one we found in Tournon-sur-Rhône, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Unfortunately, the owner of Brasserie La Montgolfière closed his business, but Brasserie De La Loire is alive and well, and they create 100% organic beer.
Forgive me for not getting the name of the shop that carried these brands of beer, but it can be found on the Grande Rue of Tournon-sur-Rhône, and believe me, it’s worth just strolling down this charming street, anyway!
So, that wraps up my little post about various foods that you can find in France. I hope you enjoyed it!