Groceries in France... an Adventure!
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
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As we will be staying at each of our home bases for a month, we knew we would do some grocery shopping to help offset food expenses (as well as to attempt to “live like the locals!”)
Grocery shopping is such an interesting experience in other countries! What types of food do they buy most often? Do they buy in bulk or shop daily? Are there any popular items you don’t recognize? Are the labels only in a foreign language? If you don’t speak the language, can you figure out what some of the things are?
During our first full day in town, we made a trip to the grocery store for a few staples but wound up purchasing quite a bit out of curiosity. Our primary goal was to purchase more nespresso pods, which you can see from the picture below we actually purchased two different kinds (espresso and lungo).
We were not surprised to see baguettes in the first aisle of the store. At only 0,37 € (or approximately $0.41 USD) for a whole baguette, you really can’t pass it up! Also, they’re just as ‘tough’ and crunchy as you’d expect. We wound up not making sandwiches until the day after and they were even crunchier (haha!). I guess we’ll get on the bandwagon and buy baguettes daily as the French do. (We love bread just about as much as Oprah.)
Most items at the grocery were recognizable to us, or at least had a label we could somewhat interpret. Our biggest challenge was checking for nuts in the ingredient list of the cereal bars (due to an allergy). We discovered that in France common allergens are always listed in bold in the ingredient list so that makes it easier to just glance through it (assuming you know the French word for whatever you might be allergic to). No allergic reactions yet so we must’ve done well!
We would like to acknowledge that Google Translate has been a blessing here… but it honestly makes up some really goofy words when using the “live” translate option.
While in France, we will continue to rely on Megan’s knowledge of the French language!
We had brought one reusable bag with us (thanks to Megan’s mom for the gift that keeps on giving) but when we purchased more groceries than we had planned, we had to buy a 2nd bag to carry it all home. We were certainly in the minority as customers purchasing plastic bags (insert: embarrassed foreigner look) and will come prepared with multiple reusable and/or insulated bags next trip.
Here is the detailed receipt:
(the cute print in the background is actually a place mat at our Airbnb)
Total: 47,72 €
When we logged on to our bank’s website, we could see this charge was for $53.85 USD, which confirmed our prior research that simply using a credit or debit card (credit, in our case) internationally will often get you extremely close to the best published exchange rate on a given day. When you exchange cash, the rate is never in your favor.
We prefer the Chase Sapphire card on our international trips since it has no international transaction fees. (Just be sure to pay the balance in full every month or you’ll negate any savings on additional fees and instead pay outrageous interest.)
In this case, our bank used a rate of 1 € = 0.8862 USD and the current published exchange rate is .89 so clearly we didn’t lose much in this transaction. More affordable food and a competitive exchange rate? That’s a win, win!
Here’s an itemized list of what we bought along with the equivalent USD price (sorted descending):
With cheese being a top item, you can tell we’re embracing the local culture. Megan was pretty excited to see raclette, as she first tried it on her first international trip (Switzerland). She’s not a huge fan of cheese in general but this kind is buttery and delicious paired with potatoes.
All in all our first grocery trip was a great success! Next trip maybe we’ll get even more adventurous with our purchases.
Until then, safe travels!
Eddie & Megan
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