by Zach Roberge, River Editor
The other day I bought bread. Not sliced bread and not bread that’s been stored on a shelf for days on end. I bought a fresh baguette that had been baked in store. I paid less than 1 euro, and to pair, I picked up fromage a tartinare, which is a garlic cheese spread. I also bought a four pack of small bottles of cider for 3 euro and spent a pleasant afternoon at a park, sitting on the grass and eating my lunch.
There is a culture here around food that I’ve noticed. Yes, this includes the cafes with outdoor seating where you’re expected to eat and people watch, the type you might see in movies, but also there is Carrefour, Monoprix, Super U, and other stores to buy your meals. That’s where I’ve noticed the native French food culture cultivates. These stores are kind of to Le Mans what Walmart, Market Basket, or Hannaford are to New England. The difference is the convenience and quality. For instance Carrefour has two branches: Carrefour Market and Carrefour City. I go to this Carrefour Market, which is a 20 minute tram ride from the apartment for big grocery shops:
However, there is also this Carrefour City about a 6 minute walk away from the apartment that I go to for snacks, bread, and sometimes wine:
Additionally, this Carrefour City is about a 7 minute walk from the apartment. I go to it when I’m walking in that direction anyway:
Monoprix and Super U are each between 10 and 20 minute walks away from the apartment and also many patisseries, butchers, and small, specialized shops such as tea shops.
What I’ve notice is that cinema-type culture around the food here is rather accurate. Simply walk through Place de la Republique and you’ll see the army of people at the cafes sipping boisons, but you’ll buy the best food fresh and either you’ll cook it yourself, or it’ll be bread. I don’t know where this stems from, but I do know that it’s great for the bread-loving American I am.