They’ve not got the hang of fast food yet in France. We went on a long drive to the Alps in January, and stopping at a service station I was shocked at what I found. There were jars with what looked like pickled organs or medical experiments gone wrong in them. And the sandwiches were so sloppy you couldn’t even pick them out of the wrappers without them disintegrating. “Just stop at a restaurant, take a couple of hours and a few carafes and don’t be in such a hurry” you can hear French culture moaning on the breeze. Apparently last year was the first time fast food sales took more of the lunch market than traditional brasseries but they’ve really still got some way to go. With McDonald’s however they do have the right idea. Heineken! On the drive-thru drinks menu. Brilliant.
Burgers, though, have not made it into the general French consciousness – certainly not in traditional bun form. If you order one in a restaurant it’s likely to come sans bread, and you can’t buy buns in any boulangerie I’ve seen, so soggy BBQ burger sandwiches it is.
Shopping is still a frustrating experience for me generally. I swept round the aisles of Tesco like Dale Winton on speed, but in Intermarche I’m an anaesthetised blind tortoise. The groupings don’t make sense – crackers are not with the crisps, mayonnaise is not near the dips, the cheese packets all look the same and the words are indecipherable (they’re in French). The boyfriend sent me off to look for some crackers and found me in tears in the crisp aisle. “I knew where everything was in Tesco” I wailed. It was all a bit much when you’re suddenly the new girl at shopping again at 33.
There is one thing that makes me smile in a French supermarket – Mr Propre. He’s their equivalent of Mr Muscle, but he’s a Phil Mitchel look-a-like with an earring! Hilarious.
13 thoughts on “France Doesn’t Do Fast Food”
looks like we all need this: http://britishcornershop.co.uk/ . Urgently.
tsaziki, hummous etc all with the fish because hey lump it together with taramasata…. i cant stand food shopping out here
*taramasalata* not that there was any of it- but that was the theory im sure….
Burger buns are to be found in the bread section of Leclerc, in Beaune for definite, I cannot vouch for any other magasin. I agree that shopping takes on a feeling of adventure over here, i.e. will I actually find what I am looking for? Another tip is if you see anything that you think you might need in the future, grab it there and then as it may not appear again until the same time next year! Bizarrely all sorts of things seem to be “seasonal”.
Bit far to travel for me unfortunately, here I can only find those awful American McDonalds ones in the shops that come in packets and preserve for years but disintegrate on the tongue. I quite like the French “get what you’re given” attitude and total disregard for trying to please the customer, but if they were to stop stocking my favourite cereal – the extremely addictive Croustillant – I would be really angry, you’ve got me worried…
Shopping is a pleasure because throw your watch away and take your time its all in there some where finding it is half the fun and does it really matter any morevif it takes 3 hours or 30mins ,,,,, chill .
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Love this! Exactly how I shop(ped)…… I’m just so relieved Aldi and Lidl have infiltrated the Basque Region – as some labeling is in Basque too….and you can find jars of even weirder fillings!
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ive been here four years,, (toulouse) and only just spotted this guy and now i see him all the time,,,, was her alwayse here? i wonder,,,,, but look upon him more a a gene,,,, if you get me..
i am loving your description of the experience of getting used to the shopping (fellow tesco girl)…glad to have found you on here, very entertaining. ~
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Thanks Wendy! I noticed Mr Propre my first time here. I understand how Mr Muscle sells – by telling people you don’t have to work hard to get great cleaning results – but Mr Propre is the total opposite! What are they saying – even well-hard big men can get big chufties by making their kitchen sparkly?! haha
I just need to quickly ask, have you figured out how to read your laptop screen in the bright sunshine?
I too work on the Internet from home and it frustrates me enormously that I can’t work in the sun coz I can’t see my screen.
I’ve googled it, tried making a tunnel but nothing works, how do you manage?
thanks for any tips.
Dept 17, Charente Maritime, France
Hi Clare, I haven’t to be honest, I’ve just been squinting and doing things that are more about writing than looking, then going in the shade. It is a pain…
Absolutely loved your blog so far and so refreshing to hear the truthful bits about shopping… Nightmare!! But hopefully LIFT will help you out with any questions in seconds … Good luck … and keep enjoying!! Jeannie
Thanks Jean, it’s my own fault for moving abroad without first learning the language, but shopping does take forever! And WHY NO BURGER BUNS?!