I recently wrote a series of posts about shopping for and preparing meals "the French way." The series received wonderful comments and feedback, but also some emails from curious readers wanting to know where I buy things like cleaning products and paper goods.
I must confess: Target.
Well, actually, the hypermarché, SuperTarget.
Hypermarts are a touchy topic, both in America and in France. The arguments of wages and unions are well known, and the cost benefit is the subject of endless discussion. But, I am asking you, please don't judge me because I shop at Target.
Actually, it was in France, not the US, where I first discovered the hypermarché. About twelve years ago I stumbled upon Monoprix in St. Germain-des-Prés; for someone who seeks quality at affordable prices, Monoprix is a goldmine. Part grocery store, part clothing store, part hardware store, Monoprix has it all. It was there I bought my first piece of Emile Henry, and where I discovered the complete line of Le Petit Marsellais soaps.
A few years later during my first visit to Annecy my sister took me to Carrefour, a hypermarché located just outside of town. Her son, Jules, was still a baby, and Carrefour is where she bought baby products. When I visited I couldn't believe it; a huge store that carried everything for baby Jules, including Petit Bateau at amazing prices. Like Monoprix, Carrefour has a bit of everything.
Back home in the states, I had never heard the term "big box stores," was unaware of the politics surrounding Wal-mart, and Costco had not yet made its way to my area. But before too long, a friend was telling me about this new store, Target, that had everything. She jokingly referred to Target using a pseudo-French pronunciation which made it sound like and upscale boutique. Now, years later, I am a Target shopper.
For those who have never visited a SuperTarget, it's an experience. In addition to the general merchandise you would find in any Target store, there is a full service grocery store, just like the French hypermarchés. I shop SuperTarget every 6-7 weeks. Personally, I like the convenience of shopping there: the store is clean, the aisles are wide, the shelves are well stocked, the service is quick, and the range of products is good.
The francophile in me can also find my favorite products: Laughing Cow Cheese, Le Petit Ecolier biscuits, Maille moutards et cornichons. Also Alessi, Colavita, and SanMarzano brands are less expensive at SuperTarget, which means I can keep my pantry stocked with high quality staples without spending a fortune. And of course, there I can also buy cleaning products, paper products, batteries, and all the other non-food essentials.
So politics aside, does anyone else shop the hypermarchés?