Shopping for food is a major past time for many of us in the Charente. Supermarkets in the region stock a wide variety of
local produce, as well as goods from a little further afield. Though many of them still close for the obligatory three hour
lunch break, most of the larger stores remain open "sans interruption". And some of them are even open (brace yourself) on Sundays! (But normally only between 9 am and 11.45 am)
We have also started noticing an increase in the number of supermarkets containing a British section within their aisles.
These stock those little pots of Branston pickle that you so dearly miss (which goes very well with the Cheddar cheese they
sell at the deli counter in Auchan by the way) and the bars of Cadbury's chocolate, which do seem to have the edge on Nestle,
I have to say.
Most of the supermarkets sell clothes and shoes at reasonable prices, but naturally some are of better quality than others. But you won't find any pharmaceutical products or cigarettes in the supermarkets; you have to go to a pharmacy or tabac for those. However, you can buy shot gun cartridges, caustic soda and fireworks, which for some reason are clearly not considered as dangerous or specialised as a bottle of Tixylix.
Most of the trolleys require a euro, but if you go to the information desk and ask for a 'jeton pour les chariots', then they'll give you a plastic token which you can keep. This is very handy, because 9 times out of 10 we've spent our last euro buying a baguette from the boulangerie.
Below is a list of links to the major supermarkets in the area, which contain details about opening hours, special offers and various other useful bits and pieces.
Links to Charente Supermarkets:
There are two Auchan stores in the Charente - one in Cognac and one in La Couronne (just outside Angouleme). They are huge and have a great variety of food, clothes and electrical goods. They are also very reasonably priced. They usually have some great sales and offers, so if you're in the area, give them a go.
Carrefour is the largest hypermarket chain in the world in terms of size, the second largest retail group in the world in terms of revenue and third largest in profit after Wal-Mart and Tesco.
And recently they have taken over some of the smaller Champion supermarkets and renamed them Carrefour-marché.
You can also shop online - currently they are offering free delivery on your first time, if you spend more than 120 euros.
There are lots of Champion stores in the region, of various sizes. As well as the larger shops, they also have mini Champions in some of the larger towns.
As its name suggests, Géant is a hypermarket. The one in Angouleme is similar in size to Auchan and fairly evenly matched on price. It's on the 'wrong' side of town for us, so we don't know it as well as some of the other supermarkets in the region.
Intermarché are a bit more expensive than some supermarkets we have found, but as they are often coupled with a Bricomarché, which is the company's DIY branch, they can be quite handy at times.
(They have an English side to their website, too.)
Leader Price is part of the same chain that owns Géant. They sell only their own brands, so are significantly cheaper. We have only recently discovered it and their quality is surprisingly good. The layout is basic and their fresh produce didn't entice us to part with any money (we may have caught it on a bad day) but for most other goods, they come recommended.
Leclerc are a mid-priced supermarket and we have found that they are always helpful and friendly. We often shop at the one in Barbezieux, as they are open over the lunch period. Their own brand goods are of a good standard.
Lidl in the Charente seem to have cracked the quality / price balance and are far and away the best for stocking up on your basics.
Netto are Intermarché's competition with Lidl and do a pretty good job at it. Another good place to stock up on basics.
We often shop in SuperU because they seem to have struck the right balance between price and quality. Plus, our nearest branch in Villebois-Lavalette seem to have the happiest staff in the world! It may be because they haven't been open that long or it could be something in the water...
Return from Charente Supermarkets to Living in the Charente