When we go on a trip to France, I look forward to shopping at the local grocery store. To me it's almost a tourism destination because you get to see the real people who live where you are visiting, and what food and other products they use and it's kind of fun to me to compare it to what grocery shopping is like at home.
The grocery store chain We shopped at the most is called Casino Geant, which is like a Target Superstore in the US. In addition to bringing your own shopping bags (unless you plan on buying bags at the check-out), you will need a coin to unlock a grocery cart. When you are done with it, you return it and your coin will pop back out.
In my experience, you haven't felt like an oddball until you've taken pictures inside a grocery store. I tried to be subtle so that no one was going to look at me funny and wonder why on earth I was taking pictures at a grocery store.
The selection of baby food in France sounds so much more gourmet than our choices in the US. In addition to this Ratatouille, there was Pot au Feu, artichokes and Spaghetti Bolognese.
The kids were intrigued by the rainbow of toilet paper choices:
Mayonnaise is less popular in France, so it comes in tubes instead of big jars:
If you are looking for eggs in the refrigerated section, you won't find them. Instead fresh eggs are actually located on a regular aisle, near frozen. Another "fun fact" is that brown eggs are the bulk of eggs sold. White eggs are less popular.
There are also a lot of brands we have at home, just repackaged and renamed to fit into the culture and needs of the country where they are being sold.
Kettle chips are called Chips a la Ancienne. Ancienne means old-style.
A few more things I liked....These almond pastries:
The shrimps with their beady black eyes and antennae still intact:
The deli. It takes a big part of the middle of the store, and there are so many choices. Ready made salads, stacks of Croque Monsieur sandwiches you can take home and heat up in the oven. Lots of cheese sold for low prices you could only dream of paying here, like 2 dollars for a wedge of brie that would cost you about 7 dollars normally.
There is even a paella stand:
At the check out you find that the checkers have stools, and they get to sit as much as they want. I think this is nice because they don't have to be on their feet all day. Another difference is the bagging: they do not bag for you. It gets passed over their scanner and waits at the other end of the scanning area for you to do your own bagging. You kind of have to be quick because once your order is done, they will start on the next customer and start pushing their stuff onto yours.
Shopping at the grocery store while on vacation is a good way to keep some of your food costs down. It's also nice to be able to skip some restaurant time so that you can just relax with your family and enjoy some quiet time together because so much of vacation is spent on the go, seeing the sites.