Life in Grenoble Travel

Life in Grenoble, France: Grocery Shopping

June 27, 2019

I know this is probably the most random blogpost yet, but it was extremely important for me when we moved to Grenoble to know where to shop and what certain food items look like. When you walk into a Pick nPay, or Checkers in South Africa, you know exactly where everything is, you look for the brands, you know the brands from when you were a child, you trust the brands, but living in Grenoble it has taken me about 18 months to say I finally know where everything is and what everything looks like. The first time I went grocery shopping in Grenoble it took me close to 2 hours, and that was just for the necessities. Oh and did I mention that my boys were then 3,4, and 6 years old! I walked through every. single. isle. scanning all the products, using google translate to find what is milk, what is Stay Soft, what is buttermilk etc. Don’t even get me started on the spices. I used google translate for almost EVERYTHING.

So for those of you that are moving to Grenoble or even France, or going on holiday, this blogpost will help you find all the goods. I will be doing a “life in Grenoble series of blogposts in the next few weeks, and this will be one of the first one’s in this series.

Moving is never easy, but moving to a new country has it’s challenges, and it goes beyond just trying to learn the language and adapt to the culture. We have been passionate about France for quite some time before we moved here 2 years ago, so when the opportunity presented itself for us to move we took it head on.

Finding your feet, settling in or getting that feeling that you can call a place home takes time, and it’s different for each individual. But one of the most important things for me as a mother and a wife it to get my home set up and functioning to the best of it’s ability as quick as possible. And that includes food for my 4 hungry boys!

2 tips when shopping:

  • Always remember a token or a 1/2 euro coin. You cannot use a trolley/caddie without it. Some shops have baskets but there is only so much you can pack in there. When we just moved to Grenoble in July 2016 it was in the heat of summer, we stopped at the Lidl the day we moved into our house, the kids were hungry, thirsty, hot and tired, and we didn’t have any cash or tokens, nobody could understand us or help us, so we went left. You can get extra tokens from the airport when you just arrive or at the info desks at E’leclerc or Carrefour.
  • Buy shopping bags, the heavy duty ones and always have them with you. You can buy plastic bags and paper bags at the tills in most shops, but this way you save.

When grocery shopping, here are the shops you need to look for:

Lidl

Lidl is a perfect every day one stop shop. If you quickly need eggs, or dishwashing liquid or milk, this is where you will find it. They have great prices. They only stock certain brands though but you can find specials there every single day. They have an app too, I suggest you download it, they load new specials every Monday for the week. Lidl will often sell certain products only for that day, for example they will have a gardening special than you can find gardening tools at a really great price, but only till stocks last. I try to check the app on a Monday and see if there is something I will need then make a note of the day those items come out. They also often sell affordable wooden toys, baby clothes, and they always have the cutest things for Christmas, Easter and Valentines day.

Things I always buy at Lidl:

  • Bacon ( they have 7 wide strips and they are the best)
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Fresh Bakery bread (and then cut it in the cutting machine) The ciabatta is our favourite.
  • Bananas
  • Bulk Spinach
  • Greek Yogurt (1 L)
  • Cheese
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Bjorg oats

Oats

  • Bjorg chocolate covered rice cakes ( these are soooo good)
  • Frozen strawberries and berries
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Sausage
  • and sometimes salmon when it’s on special
  • Fresh flowers (cheap enough that I can buy a bunch once a week) Loved getting tiny roses and tulips when they are in season

Grand Frais

This is like the Woolies (Woolworths) of Grenoble. They are a tad bit expensive but you can get really good quality fruits and vegetables, they also have a big selection of nuts and sweets that you can choose and weigh out. We don’t shop there very often but they are one of the few shops that are open on a Sunday until 13:00. So when we have an unplanned braai (bbq) or picnic we like to stop there for a few things.

At Grand Frais we mainly buy:

  • Fresh Fruit (they have the best strawberries)
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • They have these big buckets of jelly sweets (candy) so so yum
  • Asian ingredients
  • Meat (great quality but very expensive compared to other places)

Intermarché

Another store that is open on Sundays until 13:00. We don’t often shop there, but when we do it’s on a Sunday, and we normally find ice in the Spring/summer there and Braai briquets most months of the year.

E’leclerc

This is like a Pick n pay, or Game or Makro (without the bulk stuff). We mainly shop here. I do a big shop once a week and then top up from Lidl if I need anything else.: Apply for a carte de fidélité (fidelity card) from day one, you get points and discount on certain products and certain days. Thursdays are the mega savings days. It took me 18 months to learn this, and only because that was the first time that I could actually have a conversation with the teller in english.

Sel de Mer

This butter has crunchy salt pieces in and tastes amazing on fresh bread.

Things I specifically buy at E’leclerc that I don’t always find at other stores are:

  • Buttermilk (when baking rusks, because you will see how much you actually miss it)

Buttermilk in France

  • San Pellegrino water (out of all the sparkling waters this one has the best taste, my kids even drink it, They also often have a buy 3 for 2 special)
  • Bjorg Flacon d’avoine (original oats) This has the best taste, find it in the bio section
  • bulk pack chicken pieces
  • Beef and Lamb but only when it’s on special
  • Sausages

You will not find boerewors in France, but this is pretty good.

 

These are also good. We love making them for breakfast with eggs, or using them on a Brioche roll for the boys.

 

  • toilet paper
  • Wet n Wild eyebrow pencil
  • Kids toothpaste
  • Shoes ( their woman’s sandals are really good and well priced)
  • kitchen bowls, pots and pans,
  • Paint & brushes ( if I am there and I need it, otherwise I go to a bricolage)
  • stationary

There is a grocery delivery service called E’leclerc drive if you want to order groceries online. I tried this a few times, but I am pretty sure it’s a bit more expensive than actually going into the store. It was however very convenient when we just moved here and I had all 3 my boys with me, then aged 3,4,6 to order my groceries online and just pick up everything at a time that was convenient for me.

Carrefour

carrefour is another big supermarket. it also falls inline with pick n pay and checkers. They also offer a carte de fidélité (fidelity card) and here you get your discount back onto your card, so instead of getting discount that day on those items, the discount is put onto your card for you to use the next time you shop. Carrefour stocks everything, from garden, electronics, homeware, toys, food, fruits and veg, clothing, every thing is at carrefour with really good prices too. Carrefour also offers a drive service. The best Carrefour I shopped at is the one in Saint Egreve. Bonus it has a little merry go round. When I had all 3 boys with me I would “bribe them” and say if you are good and you let mommy shop for food in peace then you can go on it afterwards. Works like a charm for little ones.

Most things you can get by without. We have adapted rerally well with the variety of foods France has to offer, we almost don’t miss South African brands as much. But when it comes to baking 2 items that I have found don’t work that well here is:

  • Baking powder: They sell it in loose sachets in the baking isle. It’s called “Levure”. When the recipe calls for 1 teasoon I put 2 in, then my cupcakes rise well.

  • Cream cheese: When making cream cheese Icing, I found that it is not thick enough, so I add a bit more butter. Here are the 2 varieties that I have found. Note that the Philadelphia brand works way better than the French brand.

Other shops that we don’t use often but that are worth the mention is:

  • Die Spens
    • Online South African products shop. So if you miss the South African flavour too much, you can find most products there.
  • NU3 I used this online shop to order:
    • 1 l peanut butter
    • Health powders for smoothies
    • Almond butter
    • Xylitol / erythritol
    • omega 3 tablets
  • Boucherie Boudoudou: (2 Place aux Herbes, 38000, Grenoble)
    • We buy most of our meat here. There are 2 shops in Grenoble, but I would suggest going to the one in town. They have excellent priced meat and great quality. Perfect for your braai or to make your own biltong.
  • Ikea: They have some good Swedish foods and you can eat lunch there.

For more info on supermarkets in France check out this link.

Hope you find this helpful.

Don’t be scared to try something new, you might just like it.

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