Our lifestyle relating to food is also very different than America. Here, we buy only enough food and produce for a day or two, so our refrigerator is always almost empty. We went shopping every two weeks in America and always wasted a lot of food. In France, people eat much larger meals, but they don’t snack in between them. They also eat a lot of bread and fresh fruits and vegetables. It has been a bit of an adjustment to stop snacking, but I think in the end it will pay off! One of the women we met here said that she lost 15 pounds within the first month of moving here!
Even walking through a grocery store in Aix is an experience. For one, in a city the size of Kalamazoo, only one large grocery store/department store exists because most people do not shop at them. Then, there is the difference in the types of products that are available in the grocery store. Less than 1 aisle is devoted to chips, snack foods, and cookies, and everything comes in smaller packages. Oreos do not exist here! The French do not drink milk or eat cereal, so there are only about 10 jugs of milk in the entire store and no cereal that we can find. However, there is a huge aisle devoted to cheese and yogurts. You can buy packaged deli meat, but you get about 2 slices in one container! Sizes are much different as well…the size of a coffee is smaller than a kiddie size back in the US, but the price is fairly similar to what you pay back home.
For the most part, the Aixois (this is what people from Aix are called) buy their food from small specialty shops: bread from the boulangéries, pastries and sweets from patisséries, and meat from bouchéries. Fruits, veggies, and cheeses are available at the daily market, which Matthew and I love! It takes over a city block every day from 8 am to noon. Fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, and cheeses cover the area. There is even an olive stand with over 25 varieties of olives! The vendors cut up samples of their products, so that you can sample everything before you buy it!
Three days a week, the market expands to include a flower market that takes up one city block and a city-wide market that includes items like clothing, soaps, books, paintings, and a million other miscellaneous items. I love walking through the flower market…the smell and the variety of colors is just completely overwhelming…I’ve never seen anything like it. Cafes are also spread throughout the city, and at any time of day there are always people sitting outside them and sipping tiny coffees at the tiny tables. Matthew and I have become regular customers at a French crepe shop, and we’ve found that you get more food and better service when the vendor knows and likes you. We only got ½ a banana and Nutella on our crepes when we first arrived, but we now get a full banana on each crepe!