Thursday 3 June 2010


Where did May go to? Aaaah visitors.................

We have just had another discussion - over coffee outside on a fabulous morning - about the supermarkets here. Him Outdoors spent his working life in retail and I've spent my life feeding him :-) so we have opinions about these things!

French supermarkets are just not up to the equivalent in England and I have at last decided that I shouldn't be comparing them to Tesco but to the Welcome supermarkets in Hong Kong where we lived for 2 years. Then they can just about manage to compete.

It isn't the fact that you can't get some things that are occasionally essential - we are having people round for supper tomorrow and I need cream, spring onions, a non bendy cucumber, and some black mustard seeds would be good but hey that's pushing it a bit. The local supermarket has recently changed from one where the vegetables were excellent and reliable to the same as the one down the road which I didn't use because they were rubbish. So have to plan in a trip to a market tomorrow morning. There is one today in another village but it's very small with only one fruit and veg stall. Tomorrow's will have lots of fruit and veg and possibly a spice stall. Not cream though that's from the supermarket where I have just been and bought the last pot not the 2 I was hoping for.

In Hong Kong it was usual to visit 2 or 3 supermarkets to get a range of ingredients. We were only one of a lot of different sorts of expats so you might go to the American Supermarket for one thing to the local market for another and to one of two other ones run by different countries so stocking different things. It was interesting, frustrating but expected. Somehow here I expected it to be nearer to Tesco.

Him Outdoors' boss for a time in HK was french. His grandfather was Mr Casino and he was making a living advising HK retailers on how to run supermarkets!! When we arrived in France his welcoming email was 'welcome to the country where nobody works'.

Now I've decided to compare them to HK, french supermarkets are really quite good. HK ones didn't have smiley assistants - or any assistants, they had very poor stock, they had no knowledge of their stock and no interest in you as a foreigner. They were always restocking at the busy times, never anyone on the checkouts (don't remember them having the main telephonist for the store on the checkout) very bad pricing on the shelves......... now the french ones look better!


  1. I've given up on finding things I want or need in Turkish's impossible. I've just learned to adapt or changed my menus completely.

    We do have smiley assistants though...but they are sooooooo slow!

  2. What I loved in HK was finding a surprising something that is really cheap - dried mushrooms I remember. Or coming across something you'd given up on. Or something like the long handled dustpan and brush that is so useful for scooping up the mouse the cat has just brought in and obviously what everyone uses there.

  3. Yes to the long handled dustpan and brush..I brought one back from Costa Rica - minus handle, replaced once at home - and it is the envy of all...

  4. Only now after fifteen years I'm starting to find nice shops here in India - some of them are very good to be honest, but a bit far away!

  5. why compare? if I wanted the shops I had at my old 'home', I would have stayed there?! I far prefer market days and scouting out the local growers, forming my relationships with them ... and buying the absolute minimum from a supermarket that is part of some mega-corporation I left the states to get away from. When the market isn't possible, I support the local village purveyors (boulangerie, boucherie, small market run by a local family) ... the way of life that I came here for but slowly dies because of the same commercialization that is a ravenous world machine whose appetite is never satisfied.

    /rant. :P

  6. Feel free to rant :-)
    I love the markets too and use the local shops. Just shop wherever the produce is best and/or cheapest. And sometimes the convenience of the supermarket hits the spot. Here the supermarket feels much more like an employer of the local village women rather than a mega corporation!