Our Paris apartment is beautiful. On the top floor of a building in the 16th arrondissement with huge picture windows giving us a stunning view over the Paris rooftops to the Eiffel tower.
We love being self-contained and not in a hotel room. We get to really live like Parisians while we are here. Part of the fun is grocery shopping, yes it’s a bit of a chore at home but here in Paris it is a fascinating exciting experience.
Grocery shopping in Paris
Being honorary Parisians means shopping frequently, most apartments have little storage space, small fridges and many stairs, up which you have to haul the shopping. More importantly though, fresh produce is highly valued and respected. We gather up our carry bags and head excitedly to our local store to stock up our little kitchen. From our place it is only a few blocks to Place Victor Hugo, a circle road, around which the shops include a fantastic boulangerie patisserie and market store which become “ours” for the length of our trip.
Its fresh outside and our walk has been crisp and invigorating. We step into the warmth of the boulangerie and the toasty smell of freshly baked bread fills my head with warm comforting memories. There is nothing like a French patisserie, the glass cabinets are filled with pretty colourful cakes and pastries, so beautiful it makes me wonder if they are really edible. We order baguette, our daily bread, some croissant beurre and a pretty cake to take home. We are still chilled from our walk so we order a sneaky croque Monsieur which we eat there and then at the little tables at the back.
Warmed up and loaded up with our baked goods we head across to the little super marche. Out the front is a beautiful fruit and vegetable display and fresh flowers. We walk inside the store to find two levels of fascination and wonder.
From one end of the store to the other I’m like a kid in a candy store and my love is flitting excitingly from one display to another popping things into our basket. Anchovies in pretty tins, stunning vinaigrette with truffle that we will enjoy later on fresh greens, chocolate (although he tells me he is more of a savory person!) In the dairy cabinet I am fascinated by little pot set yoghurts in pretty terracotta pots, I want the powder blue glazed ones and the pretty red ones with Christmas designs, but there is also some goaty yoghurt so we need that too. I find an orange juice machine where I can put my empty bottle and set the thing off and it scoops up fresh oranges and squishes them making us fresh, freshly squeezed juice filling the air with fragrant citrus oil. I am having such silly fun.
The wine section in a French supermarket is always a substantial with a vast collection of vins available. We wander through the labels choosing one of this and one or two of that, our basket getting heavier by the moment. We head toward the cashiers but as we round the bend we are stopped in our tracks.
Eyes wide and with a sharp intake of breath, we find ourselves in the fromage, charcuterie section.
It takes me more than a moment to reconcile that we are in the local corner store and yet we are in gourmet heaven. There is a huge glass cabinet to our left filled with tranches of terrines, pates, sliced jamon and other meats. To our right cheeses, a three metre wide wall of cheeses, the options seemly endless.
In the middle hangs a large jamon on the bone with a price tag of $275 per kilo, in a little glass cabinet with a big fat padlock, are truffles and caviar. This is our local store oh my goodness!
For a little while I just stand there while the world seems to spin around me. My love, however, is on it! He has gathered up a selection of wondrous things from around us and before I know it we are ready to go. Loaded with our precious loot all our carrier bags bulging including our wheelie bag, we excitedly head home with such a vital spirited spring in our step.
We squeeze into our little two man lift, grateful not to be hauling groceries up several flights of stairs, taking our treasures to our pretty little kitchen. The excitement as we pull stuff out of our bags, is for me just as exciting as it was finding it all in the first place.
It is more and more clear to me that I am definitely French. Shopping like this, fresh, frequent, fabulous, supporting passionate producers feels more like honesty, more like me. As I put the last tranche of pate in the fridge my heart finally slows and I take a deep satisfying breath, I am home.