Way back in February of 2011, the very same month we moved here, I wrote a post about how we shop and eat in France. That post is still very accurate — especially my list of notes at the end — but I thought it would be fun to give an update now that we’re heading into our last 3 weeks of living here (we move on July 15th). Once again I’ll make a list because lists are my favorite for organizing my thoughts.
– We no longer buy fresh milk from the farmer’s market — because we buy it from our neighbor instead! : ) We leave a traditional milk can at the barn door, and then swing by later to pick it up, all full. This is raw milk, unpasteurized, and really, really creamy. Some of our French friends recommend that you heat it till just before boiling to kill off any germs. Others say it’s fine to drink it raw. We’ve risked it and consumed it without heating with no ill effects, though we’re just as likely to use it for baking, cooking or hot cocoa, which means it’s getting heated anyway.
We also buy milk in plastic bottles from the grocery store. One thing that’s funny for Americans to get used to: the bottled milk isn’t refrigerated! And it will sit happily on your pantry shelves for months. Note: you can get refrigerated milk, but there is a very small selection compared to the options with a longer shelf life. We like to keep a stock of the store-bought milk so that we always have a ready supply on hand even if we didn’t have time to run to the neighbor’s house. Or for those times when we realize we’re out of fresh milk on a Sunday — which is considered a family day, when it’s bad form to visit your neighbors.
– We also buy eggs from a different neighbor. I’ve written about that here, and there’s an Olive Us episode about it as well. The eggs are really, really fresh! And the yolks aren’t even a little bit yellow — they’re bright orange instead. Eggs are not refrigerated in France, they’re kept on the counter. But I confess, we tried counter storage for several months after we moved here, and then put the eggs to the fridge when we were heading on a vacation, and somehow never moved them back to the counter. Hah! I guess some habits are hard to change.
Just like with milk, we sometimes buy eggs from the grocery store too — because our schedule and our neighbor’s schedule don’t always align just right. One other note on eggs: for boiled eggs, we actually prefer the grocery store eggs. From what we can tell, older eggs peel more easily when boiled.
– During our time in Colorado, we spent some time focusing on eating “healthy”. I put the word “healthy” in quotes because it’s become to clear to me that healthy means vastly different things to different people (remember this discussion?). In Colorado, for our family, part of eating “healthy” meant limiting the meat we consumed to 2 or 3 meals a week, and cutting down on animal products in general. We ate heavy on the grains instead.
But in France, as you can probably guess from the mentions of milk and eggs, we eat an animal based diet. We eat dairy, eggs and meat at virtually every meal. Don’t worry, we eat lots of fruits and vegetables too! But we are far from vegan or vegetarian. Honestly, I can only think of one vegetarian I’ve met in my entire time here — the daughter of my friend, Caroline — and apparently she’s not that strict about it. And I’ve truly never heard of a vegan here! Frankly, Normandy butter is so good that it might be impossible/illegal to be a vegan in this region. (Joking, of course!) We eat far less grains, though we do enjoy an almost daily baguette.
No doubt, things are different in Paris (I feel like Paris stands apart from the rest of France, in the same way that New York isn’t really representative of the U.S. as a whole), but in the countryside, eating “healthy” includes consuming lots of animal products. And we have intentionally tried to adopt local eating habits as part of our experience of living in France.
– Speaking of meat, it’s very fresh. For example, when we need ground beef for bolognaise sauce, we head to the butcher — either a dedicated shop or the butcher within our grocery store — and place an order. We then see the butcher go to a carcass hanging in the back (think: Rocky), slice off a section of meat, and grind it right then and there. Another example is our Thanksgiving turkey, which was killed and prepared especially for us the day before Thanksgiving. You can read the full story here.
– We’re less likely to eat food from other cultures. In America, it’s so common to eat Italian one night, Vietnamese another, and Mexican on Taco Tuesdays. But in France, that’s far less common. The French mostly eat French food. (Again, Paris can be different.). The typical mid-day meal consists of a main course meat with a sauce and 2 different vegetables. Of course, you can get things like stir fry ingredients, but eating something like that as part of regular menu would be unusual.
– We still enjoy shopping at the Farmers Market, but we buy lots of produce from the big grocery store as well. Sometimes it’s just more convenient — because we can pick up our laundry detergent and school supplies at the same time. And the grocery store carries an excellent selection so we don’t feel like we’re getting the shaft.
– Big grocery stores don’t offer bags, either plastic or paper. You bring your own bags, and you bag your own groceries. If you forget a bag, you can simply load items directly from your grocery car into your trunk (where they may or may not roll around), or you can purchase reusable grocery sacks at the store.
– There is no such thing as stray grocery carts in the big grocery store parking lots. To get a grocery cart, you put a coin into the cart itself (either a 1 euro coin or a 50 centimes coin — a British pound fits as well) and the cart will unlock from the other carts. When you’re done with your cart, you lock it back up and the coin will pop out and return to you. Everyone puts away their cart. Period. And carts are kept outside, so you grab one before you head into the store. When we first moved here, it actually took us several visits to figure out the cart system. Hah!
– In the 2 1/2 years we’ve lived here, we’ve seen an increase in American food products that are available — like small packages and boxes of Oreos and Ritz and Philadelphia cream cheese — they’ve started carrying Method products too! For peanut butter, we’ve been able to find an option (pictured here) in the Middle Eastern food aisle. But mostly, we stick with French brands and French foods. We’ll have lots of chances for American food when we move back.
This post is getting looong, so I’ll wrap it up now, but I’d love to hear: If you moved to France, do you think you would adopt the local eating habits? And what are your thoughts on the animal-based diet of the Normandy region? (Normandy is famed for it’s dairy products — butter, cheese, yogurt, cream — it’s all excellent!) Could you replicate your current eating habits in another country?
P.S. — There are lots of books and articles about how French kids aren’t picky eaters, and how French women don’t gain weight despite eating whatever they want. The French food culture is truly unique and endlessly fascinating! But I feel like that topic is a whole other post. I’ll try to write up my thoughts soon…
67 thoughts on “How We Shop & Eat in France – Follow Up”
When I got back from a year studying abroad in France, some American foods tasted funny to me and I didn’t enjoy them as I had. One example: frozen yogurt. I’d be curious to see how the kids fare with this.
Say it isn’t so! I miss frozen yogurt. : )
We traveled to Italy last year and were surprised at how hard it was to find food other than Italian (not a bad thing). Except in Milan where there was some good Chinese food, we stuck with the local diet. In our home life in San Francisco we eat a mostly animal and vegetable/fruit diet, with very little grains. Eating from all cultures is very common here, but I think that reflects the residents of San Francisco. We benefit from the wide variety and can have something different every night of the week if we want. Eating in Normandy sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it some day.
I don’t have nearly as much experience eating in another culture as I’d like, but my admittedly largely untested opinion is that the food locals eat is bound to be better. Plus, I think it’s more fun.
I did have the chance to visit Indonesia when my dad lived there many years ago. My husband and I threw ourselves into the local food, while my then-sister-in-law looked for American options whenever she could. She was endlessly disappointed in the Indonesian versions. She probably would have eaten much better had she embraced authentically Indonesian dishes!
As a huge fan of butter, I’m pretty sure I’d better visit Normandy now. :)
“She probably would have eaten much better had she embraced authentically Indonesian dishes!”
I agree. But I know it can be hard if you’re not used to traveling. When we moved to Greece, adjusting to new food was hard for me. I was pretty young (22), I was pregnant + morningsick, and I’d never lived out of the country. Poor Ben Blair had to be so patient with me as I adjusted to my new diet.
Of course, Greek food is one of my very favorites now!
So true! My biggest regret from the 3 weeks I spent in Vietnam is trying so hard to find American food. Hamburgers, BLTs, and Spaghetti will never be the same! It’s not what they do there so it would be like me trying to whip up a traditional Vietnamese dish. I don’t know why I didn’t realize it at the time but I totally should have been searching for my favorite Vietnamese foods! Duh, right? My Vietnamese husband could have told me that! Anyway I learned that the hard way when my spaghetti turned out to be noodles covered in ketchup, my BLT was made with 1 inch thick chunks of pork and my hamburger gave me INSTANT digestive issues. But what can I say I was 19, if I could go back I would have a totally different mindset!
if you are interested in learning more there is a great balanced article on pros/cons of raw milk in the book “All Natural”
As for the shelf stable milk, it is ultra pasteurized which is why it can stay good without refrigeration. I never liked the taste so I would get the cold milk instead.
The cart system is similar in Canada.
And the stores used to have plastic bags, they were phased out around 5ish years ago, much like a lot of plastic bag bans in the US now
Interesting… it must depend where in Canada, because I’m in Ottawa and have only seen that cart system at the discount/unappealing grocery store. Not the norm.
I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts about children and eating in France and the secret to staying slim! This was a fun read too. I once read that Europeans spend 30% of their income on food and only 10% on medical care and in the US it’s exactly opposite. There is just something about eating and valuing good food!
I haven’t heard those statistics before, but they sound like the basis for a fascinating conversation.
The cart and bagging system sounds like Aldi!
I thought of Aldi, too. Inconvenient for me when hauling a toddler and baby in the Minnesota winter from store to car without a cart, but like many things, I’m sure it’s what you’re used to.
Ikea and Trader Joe’s also don’t offer any bags whatsoever, either.
Aldi! I’ve never lived where there was an Aldi, but they sponsored Mom 2.0 when it was in Miami, so I’m a little familiar. I hope to visit one someday. They sound interesting.
Just a fun fact – Aldi is owned by the same family that owns Trader Joes. But much less chic.
Paris isn’t all that different ;) Though definitely different now than 10, or even 5 years ago – I always missed some of the wide ethnic variety when I was there but then miss the French “style” of eating more than anything – fresh products, family days on sundays, a focus on what’s seasonal, a focus on what’s local (give me your apples and cheese, Normandy!)…still, i’m american enough to know that sometimes a breach in protocol is sometimes a good thing. The one more ethnic thing I got exposed to in France – perhaps more Paris and south of France – is north African cuisine, which is still something slow to come to the US but I’m sure it’s on its way!
The cart system and bag system is the same here in the states at Aldi stores. Put a quarter in for the cart, get it back when you return it. And bring your own bags. I think it’s a good way to handle things, I wish more stores would operate this way.
Oooh, fresh milk from your neighbour. That sounds amazing! We buy fresh milk from our local cheesemonger sometimes and it’s always such a luxury. We tend to buy fresh and of the day although we do also subscribe to a weekly organic panier service that is especially great in the winter when all I want to do is eat soup every day!
xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog
It is amazing! And quite a bargain, too. I think it’s 4 liters for 2 euros.
Excited to hear you got Method! It means we may get it in Belgium, too!
Hah! You know I love Method products (and have worked with them as a sponsor lots of times), but French soaps products are so legendarily good that now I just feel like I have a ton of great choices!
Eating in France sounds delicious so I’d be happy to embrace the eating culture if I lived there!
How different it is in the countryside versus the cities in France. I could only buy boxed UHT milk in Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand at the stores; I never did see bottled pasteurized milk.
I almost never ate meat in France, and in Geneva, Switzerland, either, with the exception of lardons. I did eat lots of eggs and soups.
I think it would be different for me, now, as my knowledge of cooking and shopping has changed since I was there (and younger, and single, versus cooking for 9 now, three times a day).
I do miss the cheese aisle and the chocolate aisle at the larger French grocery stores. I also loved the peach nectar that I used to buy in Clermont-Ferrand. I’ve learned to can my own here. I also miss mache; I’ve worked hard to grow it here but it really prefers a cooler climate (the mache I bought was mostly grown in Normandy!)
Purchasing raw milk in the U.S. has become quite the controversy, with the government shutting down Amish farmers and other raw milk sellers. The desire for it in the U.S. is definitely growing, and I would love to see the law change to allow it, but instead it is becoming more and more strict.
Enjoy your favorites during your last few weeks!
I had no idea raw milk was causing controversy in the U.S.! Is this something new since we’ve lived out of the country? Or am I just blissfully unaware?
And the yogurt aisle! I’m going to miss the yogurt aisle. It’s one of the first places I take tourists. : )
It’s actually not new. There are some states where purchasing/selling raw milk is as bad as selling illegal drugs!
The demand is definitely increasing, interesting to see if policy changes.
Getting raw milk easily was one of the (many) factors we considered when moving! We loved getting it in CA, then in WA, in WY we had to get a cow share in CO and I drove 70 miles every 2-3 weeks, we went to without in LA, and now we are back in WA. I miss getting it fresh from the farmer as we did in CO, but we slowly grew out of the habit of drinking it in LA (it’s there but super underground and I didn’t want to have to drive super far) so we only get it occasionally from one of the many natural food stores we have here.
I’ve definitely found the same with hard boiled eggs. Though sometimes I love the pleasure of peeling various colors and sizes from one of my local sources. We have a small kitchen and a small fridge, but counter space always seems more crowded so I put the unwashed eggs in the fridge anyway.
I am so jealous of your fresh milk and eggs, and a baguette a day sounds divine. Your comment about the lack of cuisine from other cultures resonated with me – that was one of the things I missed most when living in Mexico. I LOVE Mexican food, but when that was the ONLY restaurant choice (I lived in a small town), I did begin to long for authentic Thai, Italian, Ethiopian, etc. that was available back home.
loved reading this post. i think i could do the countryside france. i have to eat gluten free so wheat and other grains are out anyway. we love fresh fruit, veggies, and meat and dairy at our house!
I’m always curious how gluten-free eaters manage in France. Bread here is such a thing. In fact, I always think of France when I hear the Lord’s Prayer (give us this day our daily bread) — I feel like it must have been written by the French! Living here, I’ve found most French stereotypes are untrue, but that image of a French man walking down the street with a baguette under his arm? That’s the real deal! I see it every day.
I’m also curious, because there were comments on my post about gluten that mentioned when they eat bread in France, they don’t experience the same gluten intolerance — apparently, grains are process differently here? Fascinating!
Dairy yes, but meat at every meal? Ugh no, that doesn’t sound right! I’m a vegetarian though :P
I was in Paris recently and IF I found a vegetarian option it always (ALWAYS) contain vast amounts of cheese. I don’t care what the French say, but I don’t think their diet is healthier!
Maybe their diet isn’t healthier than your, but most Americans are not vegetarians, and the Mediteranian diet is absolutely healthier than the way most people eat here.
I’d say it depends on how you define healthy. If you’ve ever read Gary Taubes books and research, you might think the French way of eating is as healthy as it gets.
There are just so many definitions of healthy right now. And so many experts taking the exact opposite positions.
What is healthy about the French diet, is that they eat in moderation. Americans tend to overeat, and that is why we have weight problems and health issues like diabetes, heart problems, ect.
No, that’s not why we have such issues. That’s an assumption that hasn’t stood up to research. What has been found through evidences is that our food is a lot of not-food. We don’t eat fresh, whole foods and for many people, it’s very difficult to find and buy (food deserts are the worst places for this). We are sold processed food items which are much cheaper than whole foods. And yet, even our whole foods are GMOs and altered so much. We started getting fatter when we were sold low-fat items in every stores. There is a lot at work here, and you can’t judge someone’s eating habits by looking at them. Nor can you judge their health status by looks.
To blame the individuals for a huge, systemic problem isn’t very helpful.
While I agree with what Liss said about processed foods, and not eating fresh, whole foods – portions ARE bigger in the US. At least in restaurants. I also think that many people do not have self-control. While you could clean your plate at a Cheesecake Factory, doesn’t mean you should. Even splitting their portions is cutting it close.
I lived in London a few years ago and you just don’t get as much food on your plate. Even when you order a soda, it is not “small, medium, or Big Gulp” it is a small drinking glass size, or (if you’re lucky) a can of soda. BUT (and that is a big but) it is made with real ingredients (read, real cane sugar and not HFCS). And you get used to that. Your stomach gets used to that.
This past winter we spent 8 weeks in Bern (first grandchild!) and were simply amazed at how easily good food could be acquired. It actually seemed difficult to find junk food. While there, we ate mostly meat and vegetables and dairy with croissants (gipfeli) as the big treat. And huge mache salads daily. Now, back in Maine, we are fortunate to have lots of local meat and raw dairy options. We’ve pretty much continued to eat the way we were eating in Switzerland. But, boy do we miss the mache! (Planning to grow lots this autumn). And also really miss the yogurt & butter. Even our local Maine options simply don’t compare. The one thing we do use quite a bit in the US that we couldn’t find in Bern was organic coconut oil.
Love this insight! Learning about people’s food shopping and eating habits is endlessly fascinating for some reason.
The “no plastic bags” thing is true in Oakland (maybe all of California?) now too. Or maybe you can pay for one, I think? In any case, you’ll already be used to the process of bringing your own!
I’m glad to hear about the no plastic bags in Oakland! I tried hard to kick the habit when we lived in New York and Colorado, and I got pretty good. But being forced to is sometimes the best way to make the new habit really stick.
Over the years I have noticed subtle changes in food culture when traveling to France to visit family, most notably a marked increase in convenience foods available in their supermarkets – but that aside I think what, when and how the French eat has been pretty consistent. My family observations include:
The French eat at mealtime only, snacking is almost unheard of other than “Quatre-heures” snack for students and the small bites typically served with Apertif’s before a family lunch or dinner.
The French buy fresh, local, in-season food daily.
Lunch is the largest meal of the day and time is allowed for it at schools and businesses.
Portions are smaller.
With limited exception my entire French family is quite fit, with limited challenges managing weight and even though I enjoy wonderful croissants, yummy Normandy butter and lots of other good food when I am there I have never come home weighing more than I left. There are many elements of the French food culture I personally wish I could adopt – but time and expectations make that hard to do.
I agree with Valerie and many others about what is expected eating wise in the France food culture. Women especially do not gain weight after childbirth (or very, very little).
When I lived in La Rochelle, my host mother taught me to cook a few local recipes. She called it “pauvre cuisine”, literally means poor kitchen, but she implied that it meant using what you have in season and local. One of my favorites that I still cook for my family is choux-fleur aux oeufs. It’s basically cauliflower with a white bechamel sauce and cut up bagettes in a casserole pan, topped with different cheeses and seasonings. It’s the best on a rainy night!
Also, every year we host a french or german exchange student for a few months here in the Pacific NW. They love how our weather is like theirs, our stores have more fresh produce like theirs, but they complain about their American peers eating so much junk food. The euro teens already know how to regulate themselves in their eating habits- which I absolutely love. It’s taught at home- no snacking, eat healthy, and get excercise.
I moved to France when I was 17, and I learned to cook there and adopted a rather French way of thinking about food culture. However, whenever I would visit family in the US I would always bring back boxes and boxes of Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese – something I didn’t even eat when I lived in the US! But knowing I couldn’t get it in France made it taste so good!
I would definitely adopt the eating habits of the place I lived – I think it’s the best way to understand a culture – but I also wouldn’t stop myself from appreciating old foods in a new way.
Isn’t that funny?! We would never buy Ritz crackers when we lived in the U.S., but when my kids are feeling homesick, they think it’s such a treat to pick up one of the tiny boxes in the supermarket here.
We lived next door in Belgium (Brussels) for a year and were able to eat vegetarian exclusively–all four in our family are vegetarian. But we do consume milk and egg products. Eating out was a little more challenging, but we managed okay–even on our many travels throughout Europe. You’re right that larger cities make it much easier to eat a meatless diet. We found wonderful food in the farmers markets and in Bio stores, and were lucky often to find vegetarian restaurants. This was 10 years ago, and I imagine it’s probably even easier now in Brussels. I love the idea of fresh milk and eggs from the neighbors!
I agree. Eating out is really the challenge — especially if you’re vegan! Obviously, at home you can cook what you like. : )
Ha! I am from Prague and the eating habits sound exactly the same. Now I live in the States and became a “vegetarian” as well. But I found some nice stores here (like Jimbo’s) where you can buy pretty good meat. My husband always jokes if we’d move to Europe, the word Vegetarian doesn’t exist in our world:). Will miss your posts about France, good luck packing!
So true! I’ve yet to encounter a restaurant with a menu that calls out “vegetarian” options. Sometimes there are non-meat options on the menu — but they’re never pointed out.
Oh I loved this post! It is always so interesting to learn how people around the world eat. I would say that we actually eat very similarly to how you are eating now. Our meat, veggies, and (raw) dairy come from local farms and we have our own chickens. I do live in a small town in Texas, so the restaurant selections are minimal. I wonder how much of what you are experiencing is a rural v. urban thing? That seems to be the case here.
Funny, you thought the post was getting long and I was just getting comfortable! I could read forever about your life in France and will definitely miss these kinds of posts when you move. But I’m sure your Bay Area life will be full of stories, as well!
I could see myself adapting quite well if I were to move to Normandy. When I visited a tiny town in rural southern France, I ate a LOT of cheese. I’m vegetarian and I imagine it would be terribly difficult to be vegan unless you were in Paris!
You’re so cute, Christy! Thanks for thinking the post wasn’t too long. And I agree, I think being a vegan in France would present challenges.
I love this post!
We live in a very urban but still community minded part of Western Australia and our shopping habits sound very similar to yours. I think you can seek our farmer’s markets and whole food stores and great butcher shops wherever you are.
But I’d so love to have these French experiences one day!
I would expect my eggs to last ages on my counter in france. This made me very hungry. Thankfully I can find farm fresh ones in my town too…you just drive around the back roads looking for signs and drop a few bucks in a bucket and take your eggs. Some of them are blue.
Now I’m craving something creamy.
Oh you’re right! They last for ages on the counter. It’s just my dumb habits that have me putting them in the fridge.
(I just can’t even deal with that picture of June.)
Hi, this post caught my eye and I had to read on as we are one month off celebrating our from year in New Caledonia from Australia. You’ve inspired me to write a similar post, if that’s okay! because the experience here is sort of similar but different too eg. peanut butter is easy to get here. Thanks for the post.
I hope you do write a similar post! I’d love to read it.
Bonjour, je découvre votre blog, je suis française, et je trouve très intéressant de voir comment des personnes étrangères voient nos habitudes :-)
we have lived in london for the past two years and my four kids have been in the british school system which, not surprisingly, feeds the kids loads of british foods — curries, lamb stew, shepherds pie, bangers and mash, baked beans, fish and chips to name a few. we’ve adopted these into our regular meals as well, and probably will continue to include them upon our return to NY in a few months.
by the way, how are your children feeling about the move?
best of luck with everything!
We are halfway through living in Switzerland for a year. I tried to cook the same meals as I did in Australia when we first got here but quickly realised it was nearly impossible. Australia has a very multi-cultural diet and I just couldn’t find the ingredients. The Swiss diet is also very fresh but has lots of cheese and cream. Despite that, the people here are very healthy as they lead a very outdoor, active life and there is much less obesity and also very little snacking.
When I spend time in the north of France I usually add huîtres to my list of food. Never do that at home. But in the Normandy or Bretagne it just naturally ‘belongs’ to my menu.
Plastic bags are banned here in Oakland, so bring your reusable ones back with you (especially if they’re cute)! ;) You can still buy paper ones for 10 cents in case you forget, though. Most of our neighbors and friends just keep a stash in their car.
I’m not sure if there are Aldi stores all across the US, but we have one in a town nearby and they use the same cart system and also don’t have any types of bags! You just put in a quarter and then when you return the cart, you get your quarter back.
Thank you for writing this post Gabrielle! It’s so fascinating to hear your stories about how you actually live in France, and how people eat their food is an endlessly interesting topic to me…:)
I tried to think if I know any French who are vegetarian and came up empty. Honestly, after spending 3 years in Africa, I thought in Paris I’d be able to cook & eat my childhood food (i.e. Asian food) to my heart’s content but it has proven much more challenging than I thought. Cooking what the locals eat is much simpler. Sure the supermarkets carry the basic stuff but I still need to go to little Japan/Korea/India or to Indonesian embassy if I want to make gyoza, if I need chickpeas flour, lemongrass, tempeh, kecap manis etc. But once a month, I’d go on a pilgrimage and hunt the ingredients I would need.
I’d like to think that my taste buds have embraced flavors from all corners, I truly enjoy food, but nothing tastes sweeter, better, richer, more indulgent than a bite of food wrapped in a fond memory of home.
When I stayed in the Paris hostel, the only thing offered for breakfast was cornflakes with room temperature milk! I was shocked that the milk was room temperature and shocked at how much it affected the taste of my cereal. I loved every food I tried in France, but I absolutely could not get past that room temperature milk!!
What are you talking about? There are plenty of vegan and vegetarians in Normandy… and elsewhere…
I read in your post today that you are picky about bread and yogurt after France. I am so curious to know if you have found a yogurt similar to French yogurt! I have been searching!
Great post. Iam dealing with a few of these issues as well..
Found your article while searching for grocery markets in France. Great article first off, thank you–but I do have some questions if I may…
Right now I’m in the planning phase of surprising my wife and daughter with a trip to France (specifically a few days in Paris and then a few days in Vierville before we move onto Belgium, Poland and Germany). We will be mostly renting little cottages for lodging that have kitchens… here’s where my question comes in to play-
In smaller towns and villages how realistic do you feel it is that we will be arriving in a rental car, finding our rental (already booked of course, but actually locating it and settling in), and then either heading back out to shop for food (or stopping at a market en route to the rental)? Standard hours for markets in smaller areas, do the markets specialize vs. are there markets that have a variety of food stuffs similar to supermarkets in the States?
I ask because there will be language (we are studying but realistically we will not be fluent by the time we fly from the USA to Europe), currency, driving the car, maps, checking into the rental, sight seeing, etc but it’s hugely important to me to be eating a specific diet (i.e. The need for market shopping and cooking in our rentals).
Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.