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Joys of Auchan

Auchan grocery store strasbourg france

Auchan in Strasbourg

When I first went to Auchan with Vilay it was as a tourist.  I had came for a 9 day visit with Angel Girl and I needed film for my camera.  The next time I would visit Auchan would be some years later and it was to shop.  I had to ask Vilay if we could leave even if we had not gotten everything we needed.  I had a huge headache from translating everything, the colors for advertisement were different, the smells were different…it was an information overload. 

The biggest problem was that I had to figure out which brands were good or not.  Vilay could help with the food but he was not much help with things like laundry detergent or shampoo.  French grocery stores are almost always crowded.  Auchan has around fifty lanes or more.  On the weekend most of the lanes are open and at least five people are in line at each lane.  I hate waiting in line.  Luckily, Auchan is in a building with other stores for clothing, jewelery, cell phones, etc.  There are places to eat or drink.   We left and had un petit café at Flunch.  We began talking about how funny I looked trying to control the shopping cart coming into Auchan.  How was I suppose to know that the carts wheels would go sideways?  That never happens in America!

The carts are not the same as in America. 

In America,  there is the bottom rack for pop, water or other large items.  The rack is not on French grocery carts.  I am constantly forgetting about this and when I try to put my foot on the rack to rest my foot during long waits in the check out line…It hits only air.  I miss the rack for foot resting purposes more than storing large items. 

I no longer get headaches while grocery shopping in France.  I know what products I like and don’t like.  I do still forget that there is no foot rest on the carts here.  The other day while shopping for the girls school supplies I put my foot up for a rest and was embarrassed when it went plop right on the floor! 

I did enjoy drooling in the yoghurt isle.  French yoghurt are just yummy.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Wendz February 12, 2007, 10:42 am

    I agree that the yoghurts are yummy. A few days ago I read a blog in which the French yoghurts were being royally dissed and I thought the person was mad…even worse, the commenters agreed! They were all expats though. made no sense to me. I love them.

    I also used to have that sensation overload feeling. Isn’t it so nice to feel utterly at home in a supermarket now?

    So so glad you are back and when you’re settled again I am going to visit you. It’s about time.

  • Pumpkin February 12, 2007, 10:49 am

    Wendz, I would love to meet you! I have been reading about your life for over a year now. I can’t believe it has already been that long.

  • barbara February 12, 2007, 1:35 pm

    Hi Pumpkin,
    I know Auchan; I think that was the first ” hypermarché ” that I set foot inside after arriving here .
    As for supermarket shopping…
    It took time to get used to the different products and brands.My husband could explain in a general sense; but I still had to try myself.

    You made me smile , when you talked about the shopping cart differences between here & there.
    I think that I also went through my first year or two, putting my foot down too ! In my head,
    there was always a racks underneath .
    So, you were not alone !

    It has been 17 years that I got to the same supermarket, in the “Atac” chain (Auchan filiale). It is homey & the cashiers are chatty once you get to be a regular.

    See you soon ;)

  • Lisa February 12, 2007, 3:50 pm

    Those Auchan carts sound like the IKEA carts in Houston, TX. Trying to navigate one of those carts through the stacked (breakable) kitchenware leaves me more than a little tense, not to mention feeling drunk LOL. Do my eyes deceive me or is that “escalator” sloped, as in no steps? What is the best French laundry detergent and shampoo?

  • Jube February 12, 2007, 5:16 pm

    The stores that I miss (or at least my wallet) in America are the discount supermarkets, such as Leader Price, Netto, etc.

    By the way, where in the world do you find yogart? That thing must be nasty!
    Just kidding.

  • Cathy Y. February 12, 2007, 8:20 pm

    I’m wondering if it’s sloped, too. I ran into that in Geneva, Switzerland — the only way up and down at this one shopping center was a sloped ramp (unless you took a freight elevator). I had to navigate a heavy grocery cart and keep it from sliding down and perhaps crashing at the bottom, while my 12-year-old daughter did the same with our baby stroller. A frail or disabled person would have had serious problems with it. As much as I love Europe, I think perhaps they have a ways to go when it comes to making things more accessible for people on wheels.

  • Louis la Vache February 13, 2007, 4:07 am

    Like you, Louis la Vache very much likes the yoghurts in France – what an amazing array offered! Louis doesn’t understand why Dannone (Dannon in the U.S.) and Yoplait don’t develop the market in the U.S. for yoghurt-related products like fromage blanc and fromage frais which are such an important part of the category in France. Louis was astounded that in the first Carrefour he visited that the yoghurt and yoghurt spin-offs took up an entire aisle in the store! Wendz comment about the yoghurts being “dissed” is surprising – those expats must be afflicted with the American sweet tooth – the flavored yoghurts in France are not nearly so sweet as in the U.S., probably by at least 2º, if not 4º brix less sweet. (Brix is a measurement of sugar content.)

  • Pumpkin February 13, 2007, 9:12 am

    The cart is held in place when the wheels hit the belt. The wheels fit inside the belt. Vilay is actually on some type of metal belt that moves. The cart is held solid…there is no worry of it going anywhere. I completely forgot to talk about the conveyor belt while writing this post.

  • Pumpkin February 13, 2007, 9:18 am

    Jube, I used spell check in my wordpress dashboard…it is new to wordpress 2.1. The first time I tried it on this post it completely froze my post and I had to start all over…too bad because it was a better post. Then, I used it again after I saved the post and it still misses yogart. Go figure. I am not the best speller and really need a spell checker that works! :)

  • L'Amerlqoue February 13, 2007, 5:18 pm

    Hi Louis la Vache !

    (7)

    /*/Louis doesn’t understand why Dannone (Dannon in the U.S.) and Yoplait don’t develop the market in the U.S. for yoghurt-related products like fromage blanc and fromage frais which are such an important part of the category in France./*/

    Milk is dirt cheap in Europe. There is a “milk lake” because of the agricultural subsidies. Companies are at their wits’ end to think of / invent yet another artificial cheese / cheese spread / milk product so as to use up even a fraction of the “lake”. That’s why there are so many different artificial cheeses in hypermarkets. (smile)

    There is a “wine lake”, too, but excess wine is usually distilled down to the relatively pure alcohol. There is a “sugar beet mountain”, too …. (Amerloque could go on for quite some time on this … (smile)

    Best,
    L’Amerloque

  • Louis la Vache February 14, 2007, 3:34 am

    To l’Ameriloque – Yes, I understand the subsidy fed ‘lakes,’ as you so appropriately put it, in Europe. Socialism at work! While U.S. dairy producers generally are not nearly so subisdized as their European counterparts, there is nevertheless an overproduction of milk. That aside, it still baffles me that companies with the marketing clout of Danone and Yoplait have left the yoghurt market underdeveloped in the U.S. With the aging population, the benefits of calcium in the diet become increasingly important. Fromage Frais and Fromage Blanc concentrate the calcium and protein benefits of yoghurt. Milk surplus aside, I think these companies are leaving a lot of money on the table in the U.S. by not trying hard enough to expand the market. They should be in the position of being able to drive the market much as Starbucks has driven the expansion of the coffee market, but they don’t seem to be wililng grasp the marketing power they have. In the U.S., Danone seems to be more interested in developing the water market than the yoghurt market. Yoplait is probably handicapped by the fact that they are a licensed product in the U.S. They are licensed to General Mills, and General Mills, especially since their acquisition of Pillsbury, is more interested in their marketing of cereal products (and in this I’m including their flours, not just their breakfast cereals), so the dairy business with them via their Yoplait license is really a backwater business. Nestle, even after their acquisiton of Carnation, has never developed their U.S. dairy business, so they aren’t really a player in the yoghurt market here. When I was in the corporate office at Safeway in charge of marketing their private label programs, I pushed to expand the yoghurt marketing efforts in their stores. At the time of the leveraged buy-out of Safeway, I had a fromage blanc ready to launch, but it – along with my job – was scuttled in the buy-out. I remain convinced its an untapped market in the U.S.

  • Pumpkin February 14, 2007, 9:25 am

    I agree with you, Louis la Vache.

    At the grocery store I worked at I saw that buyers are interested in a higher quality youghart. One thing that is going to have to change is how expensive it is. My daughter’s father doesn’t buy her youghart often because it is around .70 cents for one small container. The youghart that you can buy cheeper is full of sugar and colorants. It is not good. My girls love fromage blanc. I couldn’t afford to buy it in the States. We found it at one store but it was over three bucks for one very small container.

  • Pumpkin February 14, 2007, 10:54 am

    Lisa, I wasn’t ignoring you. I have to admit I forgot the names of some of the items. We had to buy some things last night. So, now I have the names of what I like. My favorite laundry detergent is OMO. My favorite shampoo for the kids is Cadum which I found has a body soap too. I used it last night with the children and I like it. Cadum smells so good. I like Mixa Bébé, too. However, it is much more expensive. My favorite shampoo is Garnier’s Ultra Doux au Henné et Vinaigre de Mûre for brunettes like me. :) Angel likes it so much she tried to find in America but couldn’t. I try to send enough back with her so that it lasts until her next visit.

  • L'Amerloque February 14, 2007, 6:08 pm

    Hi Louis la Vache !

    (11)

    (grin) It’s obvious that Louis la Vache is far more informed about the current situation of milk products in American supermarkets than is Amerloque, who extends his thanks to Louis for the plethora of information. (smile)

    /*/ That aside, it still baffles me that companies with the marketing clout of Danone and Yoplait have left the yoghurt market underdeveloped in the U.S. With the aging population, the benefits of calcium in the diet become increasingly important. Fromage Frais and Fromage Blanc concentrate the calcium and protein benefits of yoghurt. Milk surplus aside, I think these companies are leaving a lot of money on the table in the U.S. by not trying hard enough to expand the market. /*/

    Perhaps they can’t ? Dietary habits take time to change and perhaps the time isn’t right in the USA. Too, the native milk lobby, unless 100% associated with any initiatives, might not take kindly to them. (grin)

    /*/They should be in the position of being able to drive the market much as Starbucks has driven the expansion of the coffee market, …/… /*/

    At the beginning, Howard Schultz, one of the founders of Starbuck’s, chose to push when he called “the Third Place”, since Americans at the time only had two “places”: home and work. Naturally, the “third place” was Starbuck’s. Driving a huge expansion in the coffee market was not his original intention, apparently: he thought he would have few competitors. Now of course it’s clear that the “coffee market” is huge. He wasn’t selling just coffee, but a lifestyle, too: can a “lifestyle” be predicated on some kind of milk product(s) ?

    /*/ Danone …Yoplait …General Mills … Pillsbury …Nestle …Carnation …/*/

    What about Kraft ? What about the powerful French company, Lactalis ? Amerloque is expecting to wake up some morning and find that Danone has been taken over by Kraft or by the privately-held Lactalis (ex-Besnier). It wouldn’t surprise him at all if one of the major private capital groups gobbled up Danone, either. (Sigh)

    /*/ I had a fromage blanc ready to launch, but it – along with my job – was scuttled in the buy-out. I remain convinced its an untapped market in the U.S./*/

    Difficult to say from over here. Amerloque will defer to expertise. (smile)

    One last comment: perhaps Danone is reticent about expansion in the US – and launching a whole line of new products after its efforts in the water market – because the national market is simply so huge. That’s one lesson that French companies have learned, starting with Renault and the “Dauphine” in 1957 or so. About 10 years ago Peugeot apparently looked at expanding into the US market but simply gave up when they realized how big it was, after having supplied taxis to various companies in New York City.

    Best,
    L’Amerloque

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