We hear much about the Markets of Provence and the small specialty stores that sell the very best of produce, cheese, charcuterie and so on
These shops are all around you and they are very much a part of the French life. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear our friends talk about making a special trip to Vaison-la-Romaine, to see Josiane Deal at Lou Canestou for their cheese course at a special dinner – and Lou Canestou is an extremely good choice as they have excellent cheese!
But …. many of our guests vacationing in Provence at Maison des Pelerins and la Baume des Pelerins, have to balance food shopping and cooking the perfect Provencal Dinner, with getting out and about to visit all the sites and scenery that they have come to see, maybe with their young children, and don’t have the time to devote to finding and visiting the specialty stores. In Sablet we are very fortunate to have a wonderful little Mini Market, but not all villages have that luxury.
To everyone who falls into this category – I have good news for you! Provence has excellent Supermarkets! The quality is excellent – the stores are generally very large and well laid out, carrying a very wide range of foods and other household items.
The larger Supermarket chains are: Intermarché , Carrefour, LeClerc, SuperU and Auchan (this is a humungous store that carries everything from groceries to automotive supplies, clothing, household items and appliances). I’m sure I have missed some, but you will commonly see these stores.
If you are planning a “self-catering” vacation at a rental home in Provence or anywhere in France, it’s very easy to find a Supermarket near your destination to stock up on supplies, without having to hurriedly brush up on your French for fear of starving!
It is easy to recognize the layout of most Supermarkets in Provence since they follow a pattern that will be similar to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.
Do you think there’s an adequate choice of cheeses? ….. browse at your leisure … and then pick your fromage
There are sections for fruit and vegetables, deli items, fresh meats and poultry, bakery, dairy etc., In Provence (and throughout France) there are however a few practical differences that it will help to know about before you get there.
Let’s take it from the beginning …..
1. Grocery Bags (Sacs) ….
…. Always take your own bags – Supermarkets in Provence will charge you per bag if you do not have any, and do not want to carry your items out to the car loose in your cart (Chariot).
2. Grocery Carts (Chariots) ….
…. Most Supermarkets make their carts available outside the store – some have carts stored in various parts of the parking lot as well as by the doors.
3. Keep a 1 Euro Coin handy! ……
…. In order to get a cart, you will have to slide a one euro piece into the mechanism that keeps it locked in place to all the other carts
When you have unpacked your cart at the end of your shopping trip, simply take the cart back and slide the catch back in and your Euro will pop back out.
Don’t forget it!
4. Once in the store, when purchasing fruit and vegetables – place them in your plastic bag, seal the bag and weigh them on the nearest electronic scale.
You will see pictures of all the fruit and vegetables available, right on the scales. Find your choice and press the appropriate button. An adhesive price tag will be printed out and ejected from the scales. Be sure to stick the tag on the plastic bag of produce. If you miss this step, the checker will send you back to do it! (Yes…. it was embarrassing!)
5. Checking Out …
When you get to the checkout, as usual, you will have to unload your cart, but you will also have to do your own bagging. There will be no one bagging, and the checker does not bag your purchases – here is where you need the bags you brought.
Just one more hint: If you are renting a vacation home, I strongly recommend going to your destination and unloading your luggage, before going to the supermarket (perhaps after a cup of coffee or even a glass of wine). That way, you will not be leaving your luggage in an unattended car whilst shopping, AND you will have an opportunity to do a quick stock take on items that may already be provided with your rental as this varies.
I hope you won’t have to put the top down on your car to fit all your purchases in!
Large supermarkets close to Sablet are: Intermarché on the Route de Nyons in Vaison la Romaine, Super U on the Avenue des Choralies, Vaison-la-Romaine and Carrefour in South Orange right off Autoroute 22 from the A7.
Most large supermarkets are open from 8am to 7.30pm continuously
(no closure for lunch).
Here are a few words that may be helpful when you are shopping:
la banque – bank
le boucherie – butchers
la boulangerie – bakers
le bureau de tabac – cigarettes, also sells stamps, sometimes newspapers and often is part of the local bar
le bureau de poste – post office
le centre commercial – shopping centre
la charcuterie – traditionally the pork butcher, but is more
like a delicatessen, selling
cold meats, quiche, salads, pates
le coiffeur / la coiffeuse – hairdressers
l’épicerie – grocery store
le marché – market
la patisserie – cakes/pastries (also sold at the bakers)
la pharmacie – drug store – chemist
la presse – newspapers/magazines
le supermarché – supermarket
le chariot – cart – trolley
les bonbons – candy – sweets
le beurre – butter
le fromage – cheese
du lait – milk
le sucre – sugar
un œuf – egg
le pain – bread
le poulet – chicken
le poulet fermier – free range chicken
la viande – meat
une tranche – a slice
le vin – wine
le café – coffee
le thé – tea
jus d’orange – orange juice
jus de pomme – apple juice
les allumettes – matches
un sac – bag
un timbre – a stamp
entrée – entrance
sortie – exit
sortie de secours – emergency exit
tirez – pull (on shop doors)
poussez – push (on shop doors)