Sunday, May 23, 2010



Shopping in Europe is an adventure all by its self. In France there are several large supermarket chains to choose from and they are somewhat different from those we have in the States. Carrefour and Intermarche are common as is, E.Leclerc, pronounced, la clair. They are pretty much the same and most have a department store section selling everything from clothes, to garden supplies. Most sell gas and diesel and have the cheapest price in France. Some other differences include, checkers who sit at the registers, bring your own shopping bag or buy one at the store, and bag your own groceries. Most will have an extensive and separate departments for meat, cheese and fish. There is a wide selection, which at times for us was daunting just trying to figure out what was in some of the different packaging.


When you arrive in the parking lot, pick up your cart by putting a .50 coin in the slot which releases it from the next cart. When you return it, you get your .50 back. You never see abandoned shopping carts in the neighborhoods as you do at home.



Some of the larger markets include other stores, restaurants and bars. In Germany, Wal Mart has a beer garden. We encountered several with large cafeterias. I was seated next to this large display of salads and desserts at one such cafeteria. I grabbed this picture during a lull of customers. While taking the photo I noticed one women customer giving me the evil eye. Several minutes later, I had been reported to the management and was contacted by one of the employees who wanted to know what I was doing photographing the food. The employee, a cook, perhaps thought I was stealing trade secrets for the competition. I tried to explain my purpose and thinking I was making headway I asked if I could photograph him cooking. At this point he must have thought I was completely crazy and told me "It is not permitted". He left at this point, but kept an wary eye on the strange American, while I finished my coffee.

When you buy fruit and vegetables at the grocery store, you bag them, place them on the scale in the produce department, push the appropriate pictured button and a sticker with the price and bar code is printed. This gets scanned at the cash register. At the cheese counter, the cheese is not only sold pre cut a packages, buy you can select an amount to be sliced from a large round of cheese.


The following photographs were taken at one of the many town square marketplaces. Most every town and small village in France have a weekly market, and in some larger towns these markets take place twice a week. Food is locally produced and of a wide variety. For the most part, the supermarket is cheaper.







There's another kind of shopping. It's the kind one does while on a trip because she realizes she doesn't have enough clothes. Without any consideration on how more items will fit in the carry on, one must shop. You manage to get a great selection in the tourist shops along side the plastic swords, miniature figurines, Christmas ornaments, T-shirts that say "all grandma got me was this lousily T-shirt", and Harley Davidson memorabilia. (The latter is quite popular here in Germany).
On a recent such outing, I was at my usual post outside of the store enjoying the scenery, and I made this observation. Of the four stores of similar type, one each corner, all four had a gentleman about my age, standing outside enjoying the scenery. Goes to show you things are pretty much the same everywhere.

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