French Grocery Store Tips

From giant French hyper-marches to small organic grocery stores, here are a few shopping tips to make your forays for French groceries 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.

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

Epicerie des Etoiles in Old Nice

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 best and least expensive (and with a surprisingly good selection), is the Epicerie des Etoiles, near the Cathedral, just off Place Rossetti on rue Mascoinat.  They’re open until 10pm, even on Sunday when most regular grocery stores are closed, and also have a decent selection of wines.

Venturing out from the Old Town, the closest grocery store is Monoprix at Place Garibaldi (open until 8pm and now open even on Sundays from 8:30-12:30).

For an authentic Asian grocery store, go behind Monoprix and turn right towards rue Barla.

The largest supermarket, a hyper-marche with absolutely everything (and checkout lines to match), 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 (tram stop Palais des Expositions).

A few things that you won’t find in French grocery stores:

  • Hormones in your poultry or meat (they don’t do that here)
  • GMOs (ditto)
  • Over-the-counter medicines and vitamins (only sold at pharmacies)
  • Contact solution (only sold at optical stores)

Organic Grocery Stores in Nice

First of all, a little vegetarian vocab:  Bio is the word for organic, non traitée means no pesticides, and elevage en champs libre or fermier means free range.  The word for vegan is the wonderfully melodious végétalien.

Wine Casks at O'Quotidien in Nice

Bring your empties to fill up with organic wine from the casks…

In the last year or so, organic grocery stores have been popping up in Nice like weeds (organic weeds with no pesticides), so just do a Google map search with the word ‘bio‘ and you are guaranteed to find a Bio City, Bio Coop, Bioboule, Bio Marche, Bio c’Bon, Bionazur, Argane Bio, or Naturalia near you!

But unlike all these new organic upstarts, my pick for the best organic grocery store in Nice has been flourishing in the Port for over a decade.   O’Quotidien is a little Italian family-run organic grocery store where you can bring your empty wine bottles to fill up with bargain-priced organic wines straight from the casks, same for olive oils.  They even have a cask-connected wine bar to try before you buy.  After you do  your grocery shopping, partake of their tiny daily-changing set-menu vegan lunch counter, complete with sidewalk café tables. Whether you are organic, vegetarian, vegan, eco-friendly, or just enjoy a little local color, O’Quotidien is not to be missed! 2 Rue Martin Seytour, tram stop Garibaldi, closed Sunday and Monday.

See Related Pages:

Related Pages on getting by in France:

Photo Credits:  Grocery bag available at The Green Christian, and Checkout by Ville Saavuori is licensed under Creative Commons. Wine Casks at O’Quotidien by Best of Nice.

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