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favourite French supermarket products

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Like most everyone here, I love markets, and small food shops, but it is also fascinating to visit supermarkets when visiting or staying in different countries. In France, aisles of everything from varieties of sardines to many wines, and interesting non-food products too.

What are your favourite supermarket products in France? Any own brands or product ranges you like?

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  1. Really not much.
    The bloc de foie gras in jar form by Reflets de France.
    France has the kind of fabulous fresh foods available in the markets that poeple in many countries can't buy with money.

    1. cornichons!

      1. I think if you Google a bit here and elsewhere you'll find lots of threads on "What to bring home from France?" etc.
        Since i've been living in France (versus 1953) when I go to the states, I bring back nothing but stupid things like soap, Rhodia pads and self-sealing envelopes from the Monoprix. Oh and Holywood gum for the lady in my academic office who is much smarter than I with software.
        In 1953 and on though I admit to bringing back Perruche raw sugar and Ricard for me and over-priced Fauchon mustard three-bies for my staff.
        But as Parigi says, or implies, if you live in a major metropolitan area, it's all there.
        And before i get attacked about the necessity of bringing back raw milk cheese, which one "cannot get in Boise," let me note that it is also almost non-existent here too (7% according to Ptipois's favorite source http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/sun...).

        6 Replies
        1. re: John Talbott

          Perfect!
          After 30 years there are now only two things we bring back.

          Rhodia pads and soap. Lately it is down to soap since Rhodia pads are now pretty widely available in the U S of A.

          Oh yeah. Sometimes sel gris for our friends.

          1. re: jock

            Rhodia writing pads have been available in Québec for decades. I do love them.

          2. re: John Talbott

            John Talbott, Which Rhodia pad do you bring back?

            1. re: sweet100s

              Bloc # 11, 12 and 14. Don't ask.
              I just Googled them and suppliers have them all.

              1. re: John Talbott

                Also Amazon
                http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&...

                1. re: UPDoc

                  Mouse pads and 2 x 3 (or so) pads with the Rhodia orange vinyl pad cover. Keep one in my handbag.

          3. It depends where in France you are.

            In the regions, supermarkets are often the best way to stock on local and artisan products at a fair price. Supermarket distribution at a regional level is truly awesome in France. If you're in the West for instance, any "système U" will have Beillevaire butter, Challans chickens and ducks, etc. In Brittany, dairy products from local farms are available at Leclerc and Carrefour supermarkets.

            I love Paris supermarkets too (you do not buy everything from markets), but it would be too long to list the interesting products*. Some chains have better wine selections than others, some have fantastic generic brands (Reflets de France for Carrefour-Auchan). The larger Monoprix (Beaugrenelle, Montparnasse, Saint-Augustin...) are really awesome.

            * Just to name a few:
            Cornichons indeed
            Mustards
            Olive oils
            Canned sardines
            Canned cassoulet & confit

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ptipois

              From the OP's spelling "favourite" not "favorite", I suspect he/she does not have a Trader Joe, Whole Foods, etc., or local boutique around the corner, so you are correct to advise buying Cornichons, Mustard, Olive oils, Canned sardines, Canned cassoulet & confit, but for folks going to back to the states that voted for our President, I think for 20 cents more, it's not worth the schlep.

            2. Like you, I love to browse the supermarkets when I am traveling. In Paris, cheap pates including tete de veau, celeriac remoulade in plastic containers, canned soups, lentil de puy, condiments of all types. In the fall, buy lots of wild mushrooms at Monoprix, especially when we had an apartment near r Daguerre in the 14e. Much of it is from Spain but good and priced well. And we always bring back a couple jars of Bonne Maman rhubarb jam; excellent and only about 1.5 euro.

              2 Replies
              1. re: PBSF

                Bonne Maman had a rhubarb in it's Intense line of jams, far less sugar. Regretfully have not seen the rhubarb for @ 18 months.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  The Bonne Maman rhubarb jam that we buy at the Franprix in the 5e seems to be their normal line: similiar label, cap and price (1.7 euro) as the rest. Besides being a big fan of rhubarb, the jam really taste like rhubarb and not overly sweet. One can easily find the regular line in US but we have never able to find the rhubarb flavor in the San Francisco Bay Area where we live. We haven't find anything comparable even at 3 times the price.

              2. I'm from Montréal, so no TJ or WF, but plenty of local boutiques. I live very close to a major market myself, Marché Jean-Talon. It isn't particularly a matter of bringing things back, but about this aspect of food in different cultures. What different supermarkets stock, and the amount of space devoted to each category (for example, I've never seen less "junk food" there than in Italy).

                I have friends in Paris (well, now those friends live in Maisons-Laffitte) who are fond of the Reflets de France line.

                Nowadays, when I'm in Paris, I tend to stay eastish (19th, 20th) as many of my friends live thereabouts. Though of course, I said France, not just Paris.

                1. The varieties of salt, especially finishing salts, in most large supermarkets is amazing. The top-of-the line is fleur de sel de Guérande, various brands, and available in bags/ sachets or boxes. Delicate crystals/ taste and lower sodium content than regular salt. For me, the effect is totally magical when lightly sprinkled just before eating on most meats. On my last visit to San Francisco, I found some in Whole Foods but the price was outrageously high... even the price of less good fleur de sel de Camargue was jaw-dropping. In Paris 1.50 to 5€ per 100 grams depending on quality vs $10 to 15 per 100g in SF.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Parnassien

                    "On my last visit to San Francisco, I found some in Whole Foods . . . ." Well, on your *next* visit to San Francisco I feel that we owe you lunch in gratitude for all the useful Paris & other recs you've given. I know a few fine Asian places in the Tenderloin near my office . . . .

                    And to connect with the original question: On our next trip we will be looking especially for various salts that are indeed costy here. That and teas, mustards, . . . . -- Jake

                    1. re: Jake Dear

                      Jake, I'm blushing with gratitude. I must admit that the hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese sandwicherie (name?) on Larkin @ Eddy is one of my addictions whenever in SF. So it's a deal!

                      1. re: Parnassien

                        Salut Parnassien, That's Saigon Sandwich -- two minutes walk from my office. Great stuff; I always plan to stand at least 10 minutes in line, even when I show up at 11:30 AM. But we have in mind a couple sit-down places a bit farther up Larkin -- and we are looking forward to it! -- Jake

                        1. re: Jake Dear

                          Did I just hear me inviting myself to join the party? Yup. In for a sandwich, in for a sit down. I'm in.

                          1. re: mangeur

                            mangeur, we thought and hoped that you might want to join -- all the better! Seriously, let's set this up . . . . -- Jake

                            1. re: Jake Dear

                              So where were you guys in November when I was trying to seize one of the two chairs inside for Colette to sit and enjoy the $3.50 pork Banh Mi I'd stood in line for at the Saigon. As I recall, because you weren't there and there was no other seat, she stomped her feet (I'm making that up) and after scarfing the sandwich, steered me to the Bodega Bistro,

                          2. re: Jake Dear

                            I'm a cheap date but with the much respected Mme Mangeur (and her handbag), the equally respected cheese maven Deluca (aka l'amie de L'Ami Louis), and others joining the party, we might have to go a wee bit upmarket. Is there any SF place with tango dancing, $100 roast chickens, and large portions for recycling into Mangeur's magical satchel ? Other than Denise Hale's parties, of course.

                            1. re: Parnassien

                              Open to cheap or otherwise, but how to arrange? CH seems not to have a way to connect by email, etc?

                              PS, to stay somewhat on topic for this thread, I will add: We washed out our 4th croc of Maille last night; will refill within two weeks. -- Jake

                              1. re: Jake Dear

                                Jake, you can use my email listed on my profile as a drop-box if you wish. I don't check it that often, but with a heads-up, can do so.

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  mangeur, nice solution -- and I hope that you can expect some emails to that account from other SF and SF-bound CHers. -- Jake

                              2. re: Parnassien

                                Parn, while you call yourself a cheap date, the group delineated above is more likely to limbo than tango in search of a low cost/quality lunch.

                            2. re: Parnassien

                              Saigon Sandwich in the Tenderloin? Come on, we can do better than that. And it is take out only. The banh mi craze has hit big time in San Francisco, Lots of new ones to try.

                              1. re: Parnassien

                                l'm in.

                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                  In case you want to do a banh mi crawl in SF's Tenderloin,
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588771

                          3. Vintage dated sardines to age.

                            1. Thought the topic was the joy of visiting supermarkets and 'favorite supermarket products, not necessarily what to bring back home.

                              1. Speculous from Leader Price -- cheap and so tasty, fleur de sel in bags from Bon Marche, and Christine Ferber Jam. Oil and mustard from Leblanc available at Tomate (or some such name on rue Jacob). If only Badoit would travel -- in Paris it's about 75 cents a liter and here in NYC about 5 dollars for the same!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Nancy S.

                                  It makes me sad to think about people shipping bottled water overseas as a luxury item.

                                2. We recently picked up a pot of rillettes de porc at Auchon. In a terra cotta pot. 3€! Worried about quality at that price, but the flavor was clean and the product excellent, just enough fat on top. After two picnics, I washed up the pot to bring home.

                                  Auchon Charcuterie Traiteur brand. (Now I need to buy a pot, or so, every visit until I have a set!)

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: mangeur

                                    rillettes is that is better than any supermarche brand is super easy to make. it keeps a long time and freezes without any degradation.

                                    i just made a big pot that will be good for three months if it lasts that long.

                                    1. re: mangeur

                                      LOL -- you know you've been in France a long time when you have an entire set of juice glasses, an entire set of yogurt pots (the terra cotta ones, of course), and an entire set of terrine and rillette dishes.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        "yogurt pots (the terra cotta ones)"
                                        The jars in grès. They are beautiful, but I have them coming out of my ears.

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          I started collecting them but soon afterwards I was throwing them away with great force.

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            They are as beautiful as they are useless. Why do they keep producing them in so many different colors, and why do I absolutely have to buy them on sight? I just picked up some bright orange ones this morning…

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              those I use a replacement crocks for my yogurt maker.

                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                              "entire set"
                                              I love my set of St Marcellin ones, good for everything from sauces to sponges.

                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                Start saving the St Felicien ones, they are twice as big and work perfectly for creme brulee as well.

                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                  Yah I have a few of those too, but they're better for big stuff.

                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                It is important to choose your breakfast yogurt by the brand that uses a glass jar with a plastic lid, super handy as refrigerator jars for leftover dabs of stuff, herbs, etc. Hauling a dozen of these home is a major factor in our packing wars.

                                                Also problematic is Maille's habit of changing shape for their juice size Dijon mustards, also with plastic lids. We are down to 6 and they've discontinued our classic style.

                                                Little things mean a lot.

                                            3. I always bring back a few jars of fines herbes. It is under the Ducros label, which is a McCormick brand. It is fabulous on eggs, vegetables and fish. We tried to find it in the states, but they don't distribute it here. We bought it at a carefour. It's in a green jar and is basically herbes du Provence with dried onions.
                                              We also bring back fresh Maille mustard from the Maille shop.
                                              We will be in Paris in December and plan on bringing back Bordier butter, among other things.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: CMichaelis

                                                beg to differ... Fines Herbes is NOT Herbes de Provence at all!

                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                  Ok, guys, let's agree it's great with eggs.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    You are correct, they arent herbes du provence, but When I looked at the ingredients, it seemed very close. Really, take a chill pill. I grew up in France, so I'm not a complete novice. I was just trying to help and suggest something I really like. It is virtually impossible to find fines herbes in the states. As JT says, let's agree they are great with eggs.
                                                    Your reply is the reason rarely say a peep on this board.

                                                    1. re: CMichaelis

                                                      Penzeys does a fines herbes.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Sunshine842

                                                        Yes. In have bought Fines Herbes at Penzeys, but its not the same as the Fines Herbes I had mentioned. They added dried onions to it. I actually bought the Fines Herbes from Penzeys and added dried onions to it and tasted very similar. I looked up the proportions on line at the McCormick website.

                                                      2. re: CMichaelis

                                                        Sorry, CMichaelis, I'm not familiar with the Ducros brand. (Fines herbes as I know them contain different herbs from Herbes de Provence.) Nor was I presuming you were a novice. There was no need to bawl me out.

                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                          Sorry,ChefJune. It was late and I overreacted. You were correct, I misspoke. Herbes de Provence and Fines Herbes are not the same. Iwas trying to think of a comparison, but drew a blank.

                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                            Simply - fines herbes, traditionally, are a mix of four fresh green herbs. Chives, parsley, chervil and tarragon. Freeze-dried mixes of that formula may have shallots or garlic flakes added to round up the flavor but basically it's all about these four. They have always been fresh herbs but there are freeze-dried modern versions.

                                                            Herbes de Provence are a completely different affair and first of all do not originate in traditional cooking. They're always dried, a mix of herbs of the labiatae family, rich in essential oils and primarily used for their antiseptic properties before they were used for aromatic properties: thyme, rosemary, sage and savory. Sometimes other essential-oil herbs like bay leaf and lavender are included.

                                                            But the two mixes are based on entirely distinct categories of herbs and that is what differentiates them: one could say that fines herbes are "soft herbs" (fresh, green and delicate) while herbes de Provence are "hard herbs" (dry and strongly aromatic).

                                                            Now by definition, spice mixes are about mixing things up so all possible combinations may exist, with all sorts of names, properly used or not.

                                                    2. Whenever traveling through France, would you believe generic ground pepper? It is a finer grind and has a minty sharp bite not found on the shelf in the USA. Except for Whole Paycheck types at ridiculous prices.

                                                      I found so many more uses for it, that I end up buying cans up to 200g each visit. And coming up for reasons to return in a month or two. Because I run out that quickly.

                                                      1. We don't have the same variety of mustards in the US, so we always pick up Maille "Provencale" which I've only seen in France.

                                                        Also, Saucissons are plentiful in the supermarchés and we always get a couple, whether it's the artisinal or the bags of nuggets. Pack those in Ziplocs, I'm not sure if those are allowed! (Shhh!)

                                                        I've been tempted with those jars of Soupe de Poissons, but the risk of breaking plus the thought that it may not be very good brings the risk/reward factor against buying it. I never have. Is it any good?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: lemarais

                                                          Sniffer dogs can smell through ziplocks. I had checked on the internet site, which said that I had the right to take French cheeses back to Canada, but the customs agent confiscated it (perhaps he was hungry?)

                                                          I wouldn't bother with the Soupe de poisson; it is not bad, but also not difficult to make at home.

                                                          The Maille Provençale mustard is easy to find here in Montréal.

                                                          I'm fond of sardines and like to find and try different kinds.

                                                          By the way, Duralex glasses, which were no longer being produced, are back now, and easy to find in hypermarchés and some large supermarkets. I bought mine at HEMA in the Netherlands, though, as I was working there. There are HEMA stores in France now too - more household goods than supermarkets, though they do carry food products and wine.

                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                            Duralex glasses rock. Especially the simple, round-shaped ones. They are excellent as measuring glasses (full glass = 20 cl, halfway up to the line = 10 cl) and for baking or steaming at low temperature.

                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                              I believe you mean the Gigogne line: http://duralex.com/index.php?q=produi...

                                                            2. re: lagatta

                                                              The Maille you get in Canada and US is the pasteurized ones, major difference between that one and the raw ones.

                                                          2. From the grocery stores in Provence we get pistou, tapenade- green & black, and dried tomato spread (can't remember what it is called.

                                                            My boss requires a jar of Edmond Fallot mustard in exchange for approving my time off. Another Fodorite likes Amora brand and we always pick up a tube of mustard since it is so convenient.

                                                            1. Butter with sea salt crystals.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Kat

                                                                Hummm, algae-flecked Bordier butter a la Daniel Rose (Thanks Meg for reminding me).

                                                                1. re: Kat

                                                                  ooh, yes. For the past couple of years I've been bringing that butter back!

                                                                2. not exactly a supermarket find, but I like to buy the tinned quenelles at Giraudet in Lyon.
                                                                  also Dubernet foie gras in tins or jars. Cannot get it in the US.

                                                                  1. Our favorite finds in French supermarkets are Chimay ale in the small size and Belgian chocolate bars. This may not be what you want to read on Chowhound France.

                                                                    We also go from one chain to another, looking to see who now carries the savon de marseille bars that we like, that once were from Champion and then from Super U and now I think our latest are from Carrefour.

                                                                    1. Banana juice and canned flageolets.
                                                                      Normally I am not a canned veg person at all--but I have a guilty pleasure for the canned flageolets!
                                                                      Also--I cannot get banana juice here but each time in France, I make sure to have a steady supply.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jarona

                                                                        I think I posted the Amazon link -- it's easy to find at supermarkets in Florida, so there has to be someone in PA who carries it!

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          New one for dumb Dale in Florida. Banana ketchup or actual banana juice? Just left my caribbean market so it will be a few days before I get back.

                                                                          Brand please?

                                                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                            Banana nectar -- brand name Looza -- available at Publix, usually either on the very highest or the very lowest shelf.

                                                                            I'm not much on drinking it straight, but hellooooo, banana daiquiris.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              Looza bottles (any flavor) are great recycled for storage of dry beans, rice, etc. Great shape.

                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                            sunshine842--I've sleuthed all over the state of PA and I cannot find the banana juice! I swear I'm looking forward to my next trip to France just to have that juice-:)!!

                                                                            1. re: jarona

                                                                              Thank you Sunshine. Off to Publix as soon as I get done here.

                                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                look in the Organic/Natural section -- not in the regular juices (sorry, forgot that detail...)

                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                              Looza all over Pa, just saw it at a superfresh in Philadelphia, at least 7 different Looza juices including banana.

                                                                          3. I loved the selection of yogurt: quality but also array of flavours.

                                                                            I'm sorry I forgot to look for canned flageolets when we were there - I grew up with those - I wonder if they'd still taste as good?

                                                                            Have to say though, the most excited person in the family was the 9 year-old then he saw Cherry Coke on the shelves at the G20.

                                                                            1. One reflection after 60 replies here and my 60 years (yes Parnassien, venerable and vulnerable) of going back and forth is that stuff I thought was exotic and worth taking back then (I'm ashamed to include La Vache Qui Rit) now is available at Whole Foods/Fresh Fields/etc. Parnassien is right that the sticker price is often offputting but to save 3 bucks on a bottle of Ricard, no more.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                Let's not be so quick to cast aspersion. La Vache Qui Rit Apericubes are divine and addictive, even if one hesitates to admit it. Even if one sneaks them in bed with the lights out. Or blames other for empty wrappers and boxes. Even if one also likes really good cheese!

                                                                                https://www.google.com/search?q=vache...

                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                  No they're not.

                                                                                  :P

                                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                    I am another fan of Apéricubes. Food for the angels.

                                                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                      I'm not judging, I have my fair share of guilty pleasures, but I've always felt most (not all) apericubes' flavors were a bit "off"... I actually prefer plain old Vache qui Rit.

                                                                                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                        You can tell if someone loves you if they don't eat your favorite flavor aperocubes. And, yes, Rio, the flavors are entirely plastic. Like savory Kool Aid. =8-0

                                                                              2. Mamie Nova yogurt, one of the most intense in its flavorings, is wonderful, but doesn't travel well and is no longer available in the States. We make up for that by trying to have it almost every day at our cafe with morning coffee.

                                                                                The Batons de Berger brand of saucissons is quite nice, and the Beagles haven't found it yet, so we continue to bring a few bags back with us. Also there is usually an artisanal saucisson to be found in this section at the supermarche that we grab as well.

                                                                                24 Replies
                                                                                1. re: lemarais

                                                                                  just as a heads-up -- pork products are strictly verboten.

                                                                                  No skin off my nose if you want to carry them, but they're likely to be sniffed out by the beagles and confiscated.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    Ziploc bags seem to do the trick. I've brought saucissons back the last 10 or so trips.

                                                                                    1. re: lemarais

                                                                                      The sniifer dogs are not used for every incoming flight, and they are not always sniffing for food. But you could always get "pulled over" for a random check, and they have meat-detecting x-ray machines that will spot your saucissons tout de suite. At that point, the agents may choose to make things very unpleasant for you, if you've checked the "no food" box on your signed CBT declaration form, and they're pulling food out of your suitcase…

                                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                        "making things unpleasant". So they'll take the stuff away and confiscate it. Big deal. 10 Euros worth.

                                                                                        What else will they do? Put me in the "sausage offenders" detention room? Why the big lecture in such an animated way, Deputy doug?

                                                                                        1. re: lemarais

                                                                                          Where did you see a big, animated lecture? I'm not telling you what to do or tsk-tsking you, but there are risks that you apparently were not aware of. By all means, continue doing whatever you want.

                                                                                          1. re: lemarais

                                                                                            <What else will they do? >

                                                                                            They MAY (if really irate) fine you substantially. A friend of mine had some sausages in her luggage she'd forgotten about and checked no meat products on the manifest. When the customs folks checked her luggage she was fined a couple hundred dollars, but worse to her, she was confined for a couple of hours and lectured to and threatened with further legal action for lying on the form...

                                                                                          2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                            "and they have meat-detecting x-ray machines"

                                                                                            Wow, really ? I must get me one of those asap !

                                                                                            1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                              "meat-detecting x-ray machines"
                                                                                              I think it's time to let this issue pass.

                                                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                Agreed, John. But just so that those not aware understand the potential risk, it is here: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/deta....

                                                                                                In the first paragraph it is stated, "Failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties."

                                                                                                Probably won't happen, but it is so written.

                                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                  Margaret: I was joking about the double entrendre. John

                                                                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                    and since I seem to have a knack for ending up in the lines staffed by customs folks with a chip on their shoulder AND an axe to grind....

                                                                                                    ...yeah, I'll just enjoy the sausage on the ground.

                                                                                                    Now -- tinned patés, commercially-prepared foie (with expiration dates) and that ilk? Yeah -- all mine.

                                                                                                  2. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                    Lots of countries now x-ray bags on arrival and they are often checking for food.

                                                                                                    It maybe simple to smuggle a few choice bits in but the restrictions are there to prevent the spread of disease and insects. The problems the Californian citrus industry has with fruit fly are evidence of this.

                                                                                                    A tasty sausage or salami may be innocent but what happens if it brings in foot and mouth disease to a disease free area?

                                                                                                    You are lucky the US authorities are less efficient than Australian authorities - everything is x-rayed and lots confiscated - which is a shame as French cheese is so, so much better than Australian.

                                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                      " which is a shame as French cheese is so, so much better than Australian"

                                                                                                      Yes, but you wouldn't want to infest Australia with disease and insects, would you?

                                                                                                      1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                        I don't want to and I don't try.

                                                                                                        I do find these discussions on how to smuggle French products through US customs quite odd. No one seems to give credit to the customs and agriculture guys that they maybe doing this for a reason and that smuggling banned foodstuffs through isn't sensible.

                                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                          I agree with you to a point. Pork products? I totally get it. The US herd has thus far remained free of some of the diseases that plague foreign herds, and they're doing their best to keep it that way. I try not to add to their workload.

                                                                                                          Raw-milk cheeses, however -- not so much. The US has some sort of bizarre paranoia about raw-milk products, and it's not so much a risk of contamination as it is "don't eat that, we said it's not good for you". I still want to know how a 59-day old Brie de Meaux is toxic, but just 24 hours later becomes pure and legal.

                                                                                                          They've relaxed this considerably, and soft cheeses in small quantities for personal consumption are now given a pass.

                                                                                                          Still doesn't excuse the silliness, though.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            "Raw-milk cheeses, "
                                                                                                            I read recently in I think Figaro that nearly 90% of French cheese(s) is/are pasturized so it's almost moot.

                                                                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                              Maybe so, but in the last two days l bought 13 cheeses and 11 were au lait cru, thus for me certainly not moot.

                                                                                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                Indeed. Where are all of these pasteurized cheeses? We find plenty of raw milk cheese, but that is also what we request.

                                                                                                                John, I can't resist. Maybe these pasturized cheeses come from pastured cows, i.e., living in open fields, not slum-dairies where the cows are confined in muddy corralls and fed alfalfa pellets?

                                                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                  Indeed.

                                                                                                                  Even in a hypermarche it's not hard to find lait cru cheeses.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    Pasturized French cheese is a waste of time. I read labels and aggressively avoid it.

                                                                                                                  2. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                    "Where?"
                                                                                                                    My own guess; in the supermarket displays and for export. No data to support guess.

                                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                With cheese, it's a tyranny of the majority issue in the US.

                                                                                                  3. re: lemarais

                                                                                                    I was just mentioning that, for those not familiar with the regs, that bringing back pork products brings with it a risk of having it confiscated.

                                                                                                    Declare it, by the way -- if you declare it, all they can do is take it. If they find and you didn't declare it, you've now dealt them the lovely trump cards of fraud and smuggling.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      My point that you verbalized with more clarity.

                                                                                              2. The best thing I bought is Strawberry jam from Dourgdone region...so good!!!

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Monica

                                                                                                  Dourgdone? Is that in France?

                                                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                    Sorry, Dordogne is the right spelling. Got a jar of strawberry jam from a supermarket in South of France. It was slightly more expensive than other jams but it looked good and it was the best jam I've tasted. Apparently, Dordogne region is known for strawberries.

                                                                                                    1. re: Monica

                                                                                                      It is indeed.

                                                                                                      1. re: Monica

                                                                                                        but if you bought it in the supermarket, there's a better-than-good chance that it wasn't made with Dordogne strawberries.

                                                                                                        Lots of local markets with folks selling jams that probably ARE made with local produce.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          Agree with you in principle, i.e., supermarket vs local market, but supermarkets in the outlands are actually excellent sources of local product. It is often segregated from industrial shelf products, usually in special local product displays. We have found wonderful products from tiny producers proudly offered in outback supers.

                                                                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                            Love those local product aisles in the grocery stores. We were told a long time ago that it was a better source for local products than the markets.

                                                                                                            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                              Also picked up a can of coq au vin locally made and canned...apparently there is an area near it that's famous for canning products.

                                                                                                              1. re: Monica

                                                                                                                Where was that??? Sounds great!!! I found the same in the Auvergne, south of Clermont-Ferrand. Along with some lovely cheeses. Perhaps you were more southwest?

                                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            As I've often stated but never so clearly, there's nothing more overrated than a country market and nothing more underrated than the local provincial supermarket next to it.

                                                                                                            I am always amazed by the quality and authenticity of the local distribution at country supermarkets. You find the same stuff that they sell on the markets, only cheaper, and more choice of that too.

                                                                                                            To one snobby international restaurant-hunter who insists on eating only at starred restaurants, was spending time around Cancale, and was constantly nagging me about Bordier butter, I said we could find at least as good as that in local-distribution supermarkets. He would not believe me so I took him to one unconspicuous medium-sized supermarket in Cancale, searched through the butter section for the most anonymous, unconspicuous half-pound of butter wrapped in blue paper, smelled the product before to make sure, and brought it home. He was gobsmacked.

                                                                                                    2. Another vote for Mamie-Nova Yogurt! I usually like plain or Greek yogurt, but this brand had me hooked as a dessert! The flavors are fantastic! I wish they would import to the US. The other thing I miss getting easily is chestnut paste.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: laraffinee

                                                                                                        Mamie Nova used to be available around the NY-NJ area in some specialty stores, but I haven't seen it in 3-4 years now. Might be cost-prohibitive. Plus anything not labeled "Greek Yogurt" these days is not in favor.

                                                                                                        Our faves are the Noix de Coco and the Fraises Litchi. And in France, a 2-pack is only about 1.25 Euros. Yum yum!

                                                                                                      2. A non-food item: Genie brand ("sensation soupline") Gel Express a la main. Soap in a tube for handwashing clothes.
                                                                                                        Best stuff ever, and I love the smell. But that could be a girly thing.
                                                                                                        I bring it back every time.
                                                                                                        And: seeds for the garden. (Yes, I know it's technically illegal!)
                                                                                                        But you should have seen my cornichon plant this year. It took over! Tomatoes, charentais (?) melons, etc. No space in the suitcase, either.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: ScottnZelda

                                                                                                          I get the HEMA tube of hand laundry liquid when in Amsterdam, and am mentioning it here because there are now HEMA stores in Paris and other French locations. It has practically no fragrance, which I prefer.

                                                                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                            I love HEMA, period -- great store.

                                                                                                        2. That's amazing, ScottnZelda! Didn't think anyone but us paid any mind to this product! We also bring back a tube almost every trip!

                                                                                                           
                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                            Lemarais, Love it!! What other goodies have you discovered?