That’s my refrigerator in France after having gone shopping.
After walking into town the other night and finding an ATM along with survival food, we had plans to find the promised supermarket and mall. So, yesterday, we took our euros and braved the bus in Mitry-Mory, France. 🚎
Braved…. not really, but it was something we hadn’t done before in another country. We didn’t have tickets and hoped we could get on with money. Everything we were looking at for planning the trip was in French and that took a lot of effort to attempt translation… trying to figure out the times, the drop-off, the process, etc.
It was a gorgeous day though. We felt hopeful. ☀
We figured if we got lost, we could figure it out.
I was fasting a bit after having eaten too much food the prior days. I could survive a relatively quick trip to a supermarket.
When we looked at the map, we couldn’t quite figure if we were going to just a supermarket or was there a mall there too? A mall to me is like Fashion Square in Scottsdale, AZ. Lots of stores, indoors, with anchor stores on the ends. That’s a mall to me.
We figured out the bus number we needed and went to the bus stop with our cash.
Ohhhh the bus is here! It looks nice, too.
Since I know the most French, I’m the one who goes first.
You know, buses are in a hurry, right. Get on and get to a seat so the driver can get going. There are places to go and stops to be made.
Obviously I slowed it all down. I’m learning that people in this town don’t speak English. I’m cool with that, but my French is minimal so I end up channeling my Italian ancestors with hand gestures and facial expressions that surely must just confuse everyone.
I showed the driver the cash and he just looked at me. I spoke my broken French slower and louder and made my hand signals more elaborate. He seemed to get me and pulled out a change purse. He made change for me and gave me a receipt.
Phew! We made it on the bus.
It was a FUN bus ride.
I got such a kick out of living like the locals, taking the bus to the market. Wheeeeeee!
Kamea was only mildly thrilled.
Anyway, I’m loving it. Trying to use my limited French to navigate France is really exciting. Stressful sure, but mostly fun.
So, at this point we thought the store was about 4 stops away. But we didn’t know if we needed to tell the driver or would he just stop at all stops. Would the store be obvious? No clue.
After observing others we figured it out and found our stop. But… there was no grocery store in sight. A mall? Yes. A grocery store? Not that we saw.
Oh well, let’s check out the mall. We went in. Very nice and cool… a normal mall with makeup stores, restaurants, clothing stores, etc
I don’t know why, but I felt a bit of relief knowing this mall, which was quite nice and very clean, was so close to our little village-like town. Just a short bus-ride away.
And check out this fancy McCafe place. McDonald’s with a cafe in it. (Oh, and by the way… they DID have wifi in there.) We stopped inside and I bought Kamea her first French macaron.
Shortly after arriving we noticed multiple families walking around the mall actually pushing shopping carts 🛒 like the ones from a grocery store or supermarket.
As we walked along though we learned that indeed the supermarket is actually INSIDE the shopping mall. It’s one of the anchor stores. That was a trip seeing that.
It was HUGE! It reminded me a cross between a Walmart and a Target.
We went inside and looked for a grocery cart. My plan was to by enough to try and last 2 weeks though I was trying to keep in mind that we had to carry this all back via bus.
I couldn’t find the carts. In my broken French, again, I inquired as to the whereabouts of the carts. I learned they were in the parking garage.
What? Yeah, that’s why I see people pushing them around the mall. You get the cart outside the mall, in the parking garage, and then push it through the mall to the supermarket.
Ok. Funny and weird. Let’s do this!
I feel like every time I learn something or succeed in an effort while traveling the world is like a huge pat on my back. I didn’t know where the carts were and I learned. I was all happy and shit. Whoo-Hoo I’m living in another country!
I run out to the garage and saw all of the carts.
But. They were all locked together.
After a few moments another opportunity presented itself for me to practice my French when a man was returning his. Long story short, you need a token for it.
Well, shit, where do I get that?
Oh, kind gentleman, thank you. He gave me his. So basically you stick the plastic token in the cart and it allows you to unlock the little key on the chain. Then, I’ll need to return the cart here to get my token back.
Fuckin-A – I’m on a roll. I just learned something new and I did it in a foreign language.
I take my cart, happy as heck, and run it through the mall to Greg and Kamea waiting for me.
Then, we enter the monster big store.
I seem to get stressed in grocery stores I don’t know.
It happened in Denmark. It happened in England. It’s not the language, although that does present its own challenges. Just being in a new store, all the while battling the shit war in my head about whether we’re eating healthy enough while staying frugal enough. It sucks. Add to that the language barrier and cold food products getting warm in my cart because it’s taking me an hour to figure it all out…💥 it’s an edgy experience for me.
At the same time, I’m LOVING the learning experience. My brain is stretching and getting massaged simultaneously.
I can literally feel the growth in my body and soul.
These days of traveling are some of my most mindful days as I soak in the culture and experience. I can’t imagine how it’s going to impact Kamea long term but I’m in awe about what she’s witnessing, learning, and experiencing.
So, there I am in the big store. To make it a better experience I send Greg off with Kamea to explore the store while I dial in my focus.
The store was awesome. It was huge. They had a bio / organic area but it was a bit pricy. I picked up some carrots and cucumbers from there, along with coffee, rice cakes, chocolate, and a few other things, but it wasn’t frugal enough in the end so I bailed.
Besides, many people tell me that produce and food is produced better in Europe so going conventional in Europe isn’t as iffy as conventional in the USA.
The butter section was a trip!
It was HUGE! And, I shouldn’t have been surprised as this IS France. 🇫🇷
That’s butter heaven. Those are ALL packages of butter. I couldn’t stop smiling as I chose different companies because how could I go with just one.
And, the cheese aisle? Holy shit… 4X the size of the butter. No, 5X. Wait, there was also the whole deli area with cheese too. Maybe 6X the size of the butter aisle.
France, we are going to get along just fine.
I bought cheese – here is my cheese drawer for the next week. You can see I’m obsessed with Boursin Cheese, too.
I bought some whole milk, a bunch of Greek yogurt, some pantry items, salami, red bell peppers, raisins, two cans of Amy’s soup, jam, clothes wash soap, and some canned mackerel, in addition to the organic stuff I mentioned earlier. I tried to find whipping cream, and interestingly I couldn’t find it fresh. They had milk and yogurt up the wazoo but I couldn’t find refrigerated whipping cream so I bought it in these little tetra-packs which sadly has carrageenan in it. 🤨
Also, I went to the meat department, but I couldn’t rationalize spending the money. My aim is frugality right now. We’re going to be in scrambled eggs and cheese sandwich heaven for awhile and that’s just damn fine.
We paid for our groceries. It cost us about $160 to get everything. More than I wanted to spend but hopefully it lasts the two weeks, mostly.
I know better than to shop while hungry. 🙄
Fasting wasn’t smart. I tore into the cheese, salami, and drank 1/2 the milk before we even got outside as we ran to put our cart back in the garage and catch the bus.
We took our many bags out and walked to the bus stop. We waited about 10 minutes and the bus arrived. I was presented with the same challenge of getting on with cash and not having a ticket or pre-paid card already. This time, the bus was more crowded with more pressure to just get on smoothly.
A different driver, again didn’t understand my French or English. When I showed him my 20 euros cash for a 4 euro bill, he pulled out his wallet and looked for change. Ahhhh so they are not equipped to take cash! Whoops.
I stood there not knowing if I could get on or not, meanwhile Greg and Kamea walked past me and got on while I tried showing him that there are three of us, we need to pay. I finally just started using hand gestures to see if I could get on and honestly I don’t know if he understood but I finally just moved my feet into the bus and figured that if I can’t get on, he’ll say NO. Thankfully, he didn’t.
We got a free bus ride. It might seem like a small and silly story, but by the time we got home, I was spent. I was ready for a cheese sandwich and a nap. I felt stronger for having had the bus and supermarket experience and yet a bit defeated that I don’t feel we totally succeeded at the bus thing.
Yes, we got to the store and back, but it wasn’t without it’s discomfort from the language barrier. I’m going to double my time on Duolingo.
Here’s a pic of us on the train later that day on our way into Paris to have dinner at a friend’s house. As if I hadn’t had enough for one day, we took another adventure out. A post for another time.
Oh, by the way, I started an Instagram account under the name: global_kristen so please join my journey through pictures as I tell my family world travels.