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Americans in Monoprix

One of our ideas for a video is to take you shopping in a typical grocery store here in Paris. The most well-known one is probably Monoprix or Franprix but there are many more like Carrefour and Super U or Dia. But in my area, the closest is a Monoprix so that’s where we’re going to take you. Although many French people still shop at marchés for produce and meats, cheese and seafood, the basic staples – TP, detergent, juices, pre-made items like the quiche pastry you will see in the Quiche video, and increasingly processed frozen foods, etc. – are all bought at supermarkets. In France, the supermarket has taken a great deal in style and form from the American Publix or Piggly-Wiggly (or in Canada, Loblaws or Sobeys). When you walk in you’ll see aisles of products and all the same sections you would have at home. But the appearance is deceiving: there are quite a few particularities, and that’s what we’re going to explore with you.

The French equivalent of Wal-Mart is Carrefour or Auchan. Funny how the French take the convenience factor of these major stores from the Americans, and the Americans take the marché concept from the French in store like Whole Foods.

Anyway, I was in Monoprix today and I saw a young girl, obviously an American student, who was looking at the milk. Now, the French store their milk and eggs in the regular aisles, not with the refrigerated items like we do at home. You should have seen this girl’s face, it so reminded me of myself five years ago when I first came to Paris. She looked at the milk bottles (in France they are in white plastic bottles rather than jugs, cartons or bags), picked one up, smelt it, and then studied it for a good several minutes before she was convinced it was milk, despite the label of ‘Lait’ marked clearly on the side. The scene also reminded me of when I first moved to Canada from the States years ago and saw milk in a bag for the first time – there are some things that we are just so accustomed to that our mind can’t understand a variation even when it’s staring us in the face. This poor girl with her concerned, confused expression was endearingly funny, and it made me think even more about the Grocery Shopping video. There are so many little things to say about the experience of an American (and here, don’t get upset, I include Canadians) shopping in a French supermarket.

So that is to come. I am just in the middle of getting permission from the market.

Stay tuned!