French Grocery Store Tips

Here are a few shopping tips to make your forays into French grocery stores a little easier…

Before you go, bring your own bag or you will have to buy a new one.  Also you have to bag your own while the cashier just stares at you (see below).

In France, you usually weigh and sticker your produce yourself but the more modern stores are moving away from this.  The little electronic scale is in the middle of the produce section has little pictures of fruit and veggies; you push the button and the price sticker will print out.  Do this before going to the check out line or you will piss off everyone. Some stores (like Monoprix) have stopped this archaic practice, so if you can’t find the scale, that means the cashier will do it.

Bio is the word for organic, non traitée means no pesticides, and elevage en champs libre or fermier means free range.

The Checkout:  Foreigners feel stressed when the cashier wants payment but they are still in the process of bagging, and the customers in line are impatiently staring. Just so you know, locals totally ignore the stares and calmly bag their groceries, making the cashier and everyone else wait until they’re good and done, and only then pulling out their change purse.

A few more French store quirks:

  • Drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins are only sold at pharmacies
  • Contact solution is only sold at optical stores.

Vieux Nice is full of tiny mom ‘n pop grocery stores that are great for a little something quick, but you pay for that convenience.  The least expensive (and with a surprisingly vast selection considering their size), is the Epicerie des Etoiles, near the Cathedral, off Place Rossetti on rue Mascoinat, and they’re even open on Sunday, when most regular grocery stores are closed, and even have a decent selection of wines.

Venturing out from the Old Town, the closest grocery store is Monoprix at Place Garibaldi (now open even on Sundays from 8:30-12:30).  For organic (bio in French), follow the road across Place Garibaldi and start walking down rue Cassini: you’ll find Bio City on your right.  For the cheapest, continue a little farther down towards the port and you’ll find Dia on your left.   For cheap Asian, go behind Monoprix and turn right towards rue Barla.  And the largest supermarket, with absolutely everything, is Carrefour:  From Garibaldi,  follow the tram tracks 10 minutes down rue Republique then turn right on blvd Delfino, you’ll see it in the Nice TNL Shopping Center on your left.

Related Pages on getting by in France:

Photo Credits:  Grocery bag available at The Green Christian, Checkout by Ville Saavuori licensed under Creative Commons.

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