(or the reason why I always go to France with an empty suitcase)
Let’s be honest. The end of the holidays always sucks.
You might be happy to go home and stuff, but the prospect of going back to the routine of everyday life? Not so much.
One thing that’s good about it though? Souvenirs shopping!
And when in France, there’s no better place for that than the supermarket! (unless of course you’re planning on decorating your flat with Eiffel Tower replicas of all sizes… in which case, enjoy!)
Now, I will admit that I have a bit of a thing for foreign supermarkets, and in my opinion, nothing tops bringing back home the flavours you enjoyed during your holiday…
So if you want to keep the French Summer holiday vibes going, below are 10 brilliant things you should pick up at the local French supermarket!
1. Milk chocolate with hazelnuts: A staple of French snacks, it’s proving surprisingly difficult to find in the UK. Most supermarkets will sell some under their own brand, or you can always splurge for some Milka or Côte d’Or bars… When you’re at it, you might also want to pick up a few bars of Nestlé baking chocolate (the one wrapped with brown paper). You’ll never bake a chocolate cake with cocoa after that.
2. Speciality mustard: The French do love their mustard and, from the classic Dijon to more unusual blends, there’s a wide range to choose from. If you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend anything from family-owned, Burgundy-based mustard company Edmond Fallot.
3. Le Petit Marseillais Milk shower gel: My favourite shower gel in the entire world. Not only is it one of the most moisturising ones I’ve ever tried, but it’s also super cheap (about 2€ for 400ml) and it smells like my childhood.
4. Lotus speculoos: The one and only way to turn your coffee break into a proper Parisian experience. Also really good dunked in tea, crushed on top of baked fruit for an instant crumble, with yoghurt or instead of biscuits in a tiramisu… So you better get a few extra boxes, just to be safe (and maybe add a jar of speculoos spread as well…)!
5. Cornichons: NOT your usual pickles! The French cornichons are smaller in size and have a more ferm, crunchier texture, and the taste is somewhat more sharp. Perfect in sandwiches and with cold meat platters!
6. Levure Chimique “Alsacienne”: Now, that’s a rather weird one, especially since self-raising flour is so easy to come by in the UK. BUT despite my effort, I find that cakes simply don’t raise the same way when I don’t use the little pink bags, and taste weirdly chemical-ey when I add some British baking powder to my batters… or am I just doing something wrong?
7. Skincare from the parapharmacie: Parapharmacies are where all my money disappears the second I set food in France. Offering all sorts of skin care products, there are any beauty addict’s dream come true and very good value for brands such as La Roche Posay, Avène, Caudalie etc.
8. Crème de Marrons: Now, this is rather niche. Coming from the beautiful middle-of-nowhere region of Ardèche, this chestnut spread is simply divine. My favourite way to eat it is mixed in yoghurts, but it also has multiple uses in pastry (and I won’t rule out the idea of eating it by the spoonful…)
9. Wine: Because when in France… but put down that bottle of Chardonnay (nobody in France drinks that) and go less obvious labels. If you’re into white wine, I suggest you try a nutty Côtes du Jura (excellent with hard cheese and stone fruit), or an easy-going Sancerre. As far as rosé goes, you can’t really go wrong with a Bandol. And if red’s you thing, maybe a Bourgogne or a Saint Nicolas?
10. Herbes de Provence: This mix of dried herbs (usually marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano) simply tastes of Summer. It is a staple of southeast France cuisine and perfect on grilled meat and fish, as well as in Provencal stews such as ratatouille.
What sort of souvenir do you like to bring back from holiday?
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