Shopping is fun in France.
However, it can be a bit exhausting after getting here, unless you have a shopping list!
- They have “chariots” (shopping trolleys) out the front of most big stores in France. You put a coin in to release the chariot from it’s chains. When you bring it back at the end of shopping you get your money back.
- Make sure to weigh fruits and vegetables before you get to the checkout at Carrefour. Other big stores like Leder Price will weigh them at the register for you but not Carrefour. Some of the fruit and vegetables are not weighed and will be marked “la piece” on the label. That means you are buying by item, so you don’t have to weigh them.
- Getting around Carrefour can be exhausting after travel. The place is huge. Hint: Go through the main entrance and make a beeline to the left, with the cash registers immediately to your left. When you hit the first aisle with food, then take a right, traveling up and down the aisles for what you need. This will save you a LOT of unnecessary time wading through, clothes, car accessories, TVs etc.
- Anything marked “AB” or “Bio” is organic. There is an organic section in Carrefour near the last four or five cash registers.
- Odobio is also in the Pont Rouge, opposite to Carrefour. It’s big and has everything you would want but some of the products are pretty expensive. In our experience there is a mark up in prices at organic stores in France but nothing like in other countries. They also have a much bigger selection than other countries, save places like Germany. They will weigh your fruit etc. at the register.
- Get your cheeses at the big stores like Carrefour as they have a huge selection.
Fresh tomatoes (the coeur de boeuf are the best if you can find them.)
Garlic (the rose, pink stuff is the best, from Lautrec)
Onions (doux are sweet ones)
Asparagus (in season in May)
Salads: Baby greens (they have small bags of them in Carrefour) Mache (small greens shaped like lambs’ ears), Frisée, Laitue.
Carrots (for lentils, for example)
Round courgettes (zuccini) – great thinly sliced, cooked hot and fast in butter and olive oil til brown on both sides.
Artichokes – big or small, which people eat thinly sliced on salads. The smaller ones take less time to cook and are great roasted around a pintade, which is a kind of bird like maybe a guinea fowl? Not sure, but it tastes like a cross between chicken and turkey.
Manchego (Waxy Spanish sheep cheese that some people like and others don’t)
Etorki Brebis (sheep cheese from Pyrenees) – John’s favorite! And our kids.
Brie de Meaux (it’s the best Brie there is)
St.Agur and Bleu D’Auvergne (the two of them are like a cross between blue – Roquefort – and brie. They are made with cow’s milk where Roquefort is sheep’s milk)
Cantal – entre-les-deux (which means literally “in between the two” because it’s not the old vieux Cantal or the jeune young one French people eat at Christmas time. It’s not too sharp, and not too mild like the jeune one.)
Compté (make sure it’s old or it can be boring and make sure not to eat it straight out of the fridge or you won’t taste it’s taste. The French always leave their cheese out to “breathe” so that you actually taste it.)
Chevre frais (great with fresh figs and local honey – our favorite French Summer dessert)
Crème fraiche – Eat it with pasta. Eat it with pastry. Eat it with a spoon. Cooks everything wonderfully. And it’s got healthy cultures in it so the cream is not as unhealthy as full cream. Here’s the difference between it and sour cream.
Lardons (bacon bits; great for salad frisee or pasta and crème fraiche)
Milk (then again, you can get fresh milk at Le Prat Viel, a farm on the road to Pradelle) we get the Bio.
Eggs (then again, the eggs in Mas are from M. Garcia, our neighbor, and there’s nothing richer than his chickens’ eggs.)
If you’re into Pate then have fun with these: Paté forestiere, Paté de campagne, Mousse de canard
If you want Saussicons sec (dried sausage) then try canard (duck) sanglier (boar – gamey) and foie (liver – strong and rich). Then there’s also the regular porc one.
Magret de canard (duck breast – Cook it like a steak)
Pintade (it’s a cross between a chicken and a… very good if you can find one)
Sausage, porc aux graines (grain fed sausage) Saucisse de Toulouse (big local sausages – very good)
Porc roti (pork in France is nice and moist; the fat’s not been bred out of it and it’s very very tasty simmered long then stored in duck fat. Yes, they do that a lot here. Duck fat is like olive oil hey say.)
Canned and Jarred Goods
Sardines, mackerel; marinated fresh anchovies (ie not salted and dried; they’re light and zesty and just the right degree of fishy – wonderful)
Petits pois – get the Bio ones from the frozen section (great to toss with hot pasta, a raw egg, which cooks in the hot pasta, crème fraiche, and lardons).
Sel de camargue/Il de Re – Salt. Yes, salt. They have lots of different types in France. You’ll want to bring this home with you. It will change your life. Get it in big bags if you can. The best is the “flower of salt” Fleur du Sel. You can read about salts here.
Herbes de Provence, and fresh ones like basil etc.
Olive oil – organic section.
Lucques Olives – you can get these steeped in anchovy water too. The regular ones are buttery and wonderful.
Lentils (great for soups and anything else. They make em with stock down here and bits of meat.)
Pasta (the organic store has some great ones)
Brown rice (this is difficult to find, but can be found in the organic store)
Flour (for your wildflower fritters, see below)
Pistachios (After you’ve pan-cooked your magret de canard, sauté some pistachios still in the shells in the duck fat, sprinkle some Camargue salt and you’ll never be the same)
Wine and Liquor
Local wines from Corbieres, Fitou, Minervois and Cabardes. Organic ones are usually better for your head the next day. Especially the whites. Bordeauxs etc. are never as good unless you buy them there.
Pastis by Ricard or Pernod. Local drink you add water too. Some of our people didn’t add the water. Don’t do that!
Sea Salted butter from Normandy/the north.
Bread (at the boulangerie in Lastours or the Ronde Des Pains at the Pont Rouge.)
Organic Dark chocolate, and all the rest. We love the 70% stuff.
Coffee – we get the organic ones.
Tea – the camomile and verveine (lemon Verbena in english) ones are great.
Laundry detergent (Bio brand)
Bottled water (See note below)
Things You Can Buy in Our Villages:
You can get fresh spring water from the spring in our village.
It’s a good idea to buy one bottled water or a glass bottle to use for during your stay, refilling on walks to the source.
Please don’t buy plastic… if you can help it.
The tap water is safe – better than anywhere down on the plains – but it has bleach in it like most waters nowadays.
Milk (though you can get milk from the farm up the road, it may take you awhile to make this part of your schedule, and also takes some work—if you don’t drink it all in 24 hours it needs to be boiled and consumed in the next 24 hours.)
Eggs: though the eggs in Mas Cabardes are from our neighbors, and are excellent, same thing.
It may take you a moment to get this into your schedule.
The old man down the road, M. Garcia, sells eggs when he has them. We’ll show you where when you get here.
Lapin (rabbit): Our neighbor Madeleine raises her own rabbits, so this can wait unless you must have rabbit in your first few days.
Also, it depends on whether or not she has any.
Trout – available fresh from our river from a pisciculture in Mas Cabardes.
Again, only buy in the grocery store if you can’t live without it during your first few days.
Duck fat – though it can be bought in the supermarket. Great for making pork confit!
Honey – available in a multitude of versions (from wild thyme and rosemary to wildflower) in Roquefere.
Available from local flowers from Gerard Dektor.
Wildflower fritters: lacy white elderberry flowers in May and June can be deep fried like donuts. Dip the blossom into flour and egg, fry in oil or butter, then dip in confectioners’ sugar. Lovely and delicious.
Or, make your own elderberry flower champage. Ask Kerry for the recipe.
Takes two to three weeks for fermentation, so you’d want to ask about this early in your stay!
Things We Have in the La Muse Kitchens
Note: We do not stock the kitchen.
There is usually leftover table salt, pepper, herbs spices and teas, which we leave for Musers.
That said, don’t count on finding anything specific here.
If you’re particular about your tea, buy what you like.
Whatever you need to have in order to cook well, buy or bring with you.
Buy smaller bottles of oil, vinegar or mustard if you don’t plan to use much of it, but do bring your own.
Please buy ecologically (“eco” or “AB”) friendly liquid laundry detergent (“lessive”) and please, NO FABRIC SOFTENER.
Kerry makes beautiful crochet sweaters etc. out of amazing yarns…
Note: prices may fluctuate slightly based on the size of the item desired.
- a navel-length boxy sleeveless sweater with a racer back and a cowl neck, perfect for layering over everything from dresses to jeans (and I plan to make matching sleeves for extra warmth in the winter). 65 Euros.
- a cap sleeved cardi-shrug; 65 Euros; for girls: 45 Euros
- poncho/kimono style sweater with very wide drapey sleeves (65 Euros), in the following very chunky but airy and incredibly soft yarns; 3/4 length sleeves or full length sleeves.
- a more fitted sleeveless, ribbed, very large cowl neck (almost off-the-shoulders). 85 Euros.
- not-your-usual old cape; can be worn as a scarf or pulled down over the shoulders to make an asymmetrical cape. 50 Euro
- girls’ petal sweater cardigan. Any color. 45 euros
- boys’ cardigans or pullovers. Any color. 45 Euros.
- men’s pullovers or cardigans in crew or turtleneck. Any color. About 100 – 150 Euros.
- Women’s pullovers or cardigans in crew or turtleneck, from 85 – 125 Euros
- fingerless gloves; 35 – 45 Euros
- wristlets, 25 Euros
- thick and bulky (but soft) cowl necks; 45 – 65 Euros
- scarves; about 45
- hats, about 20
She can make any of the above in more than one color, as well (i.e. two toned, striped, etc).
All of the wools are gorgeous so color would be the driving factor in this very important decision. 🙂
She also has a few samples of wool capes, which she will also be including but she has very few of at the moment as they keep selling out!