The Butcher, The Baker, The Green-Grocer, Supermarkets and The Laundromat.

Some of you may remember that one of the things I was looking forward to when I dreamed of coming to France was the absence of supermarkets. I romanticised the notion of having to buy ingredients from three separate stores 1) “La Boucherie” (The Butchery), 2) “La Boulangerie” (The Bakery) and, 3) “L’Épicerie” (The Grocer).

There are in fact far more stores than I had imagined … such as the “Fromager” (cheese); “Cave” (wine); “Pâtisieer (pastries); “Croissanterie” (croissants); “Crêperie” (crêpes); “Chocolaterie” (chocolate) as well as “tea rooms”, “cafés”, bistros”, “brasseries” and restaurants.

But I haven’t quite figured out the system yet! Some shops only open at 12pm; others are open from 7am until 1pm, and then again from 5pm to 9pm; then there are those that only open at 6:30pm. There doesn’t appear to be any uniformity and it seems to be up to the individual owners to decide what will be their trading hours.

Today we were rushed out of a kiosk selling memorabilia at 11:59am because it was “près de l’heure” (close to the time) of the shopkeeper’s “pause déjeuner” (lunch break). We went around the corner to Souvenirs de Paris and the gentleman was happy to let us browse for as long as we wanted.

I have concluded that, while not quite as ‘romantic’, 24-hour supermarkets are very “utile” (usefull); like the evening we arrived in Paris and needed to buy groceries at 9:30pm. They stock “toutes les choses essentielles” (all the essentials) and many of them are less expensive than the “petits magasins” (little shops). But there’s still nothing better than peering through windows proudly displaying their wares and supporting the artisans who’ve created these masterpieces.

And laundromats? Well that’s where I am right now. The washing machine in our apartment is “en panne” (out of order) so I’m making the most of the hour-and-a-half it takes me to “laver” (wash) and “sécher” (dry) our vêtements (clothes) at the 24-hour laundromat 200m from where we’re staying.

Paris, you seem to know what I need even before I do! So… what’s for supper?

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