Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Which Grocery Shopping is a Big Deal

Mardi, 20 août.

Let me start off this post by saying that een if the only thing that went right today was my dinner, it would still have been a good day. I ate a chevre-and tomato-sandwich on baguette with saucisson sec (an inexplicable purchase but not one I regret) and kiwi and followed it up with strawberry yogurt for dessert. Of course, I used a folded stack of toilet paper for a plate and a shoebox as a cutting board, but hey -- things are looking up! Especially when considering that my dinner last night consisted of exactly one yogurt and two peanut butter crackers. So a chevre sandwich was a definite step in the right direction!

And what was the reason for this feast? Why, a trip to the supermarché!

It's not really a secret that I haven't been eating particularly well since arriving in France. In fact, none of us have. We arrived on a holiday weekend when most of the stores and cafes were closed. Although we've visited a local patisserie twice for lunch and get free breakfast every morning at the school restaurant, but dinner has been a pretty strange combination of baguette, fruit, and yogurt. As we settle into orientation, however, we're finally getting the chance to change all that!

So this evening, after our classes, Molly, Brooke, and our new friend Nathalie decided to hop on the tram and head east, to the Casino Geant. It had been described to us as a sort of French Walmart, with more selection and lower prices than the small epiceries and grocery stores we'd previously visited. We got on the tram at Boutonnet (near the center of the map) and rode all the way to the end of the blue line at Odysseum.

The great thing about the tram system is that it goes all over the city and cuts straight through town -- the perfect way to see different parts of the city without having to walk our feet off! Within half an hour, you can been shopping at the Odysseum at the other side of town; add another fifteen minutes and you can be at the beach!

Above are some pictures I took while waiting for the tram earlier this evening. There's a little kiosk where you can buy single-use or round-trip tickets. We'll eventually be getting unlimited monthly passes, but in the meantime, a couple of Euro for a roundway trip was totally worth it for a trip to the grocery store. Besides, the trams in Montpellier are totally adorable: they're very modern and painted in festive colors. On the inside, they're bright and clean, which made today's half-hour trip really pleasant!

Some helpful hints about the tram:
  • Plan on riding the tram more than once? Single-use or even round-trip tickets aren't your best bet. You can buy tickets that will last you a whole day, week, or even a whole month or just buy a card with a certain number of rides. The more rides, the cheaper it will be. We'll most likely be using unlimited monthly cards -- they're not too much money for students and they're definitely worth it for quick access to so many parts of town.
  • If you do decide to buy a ticket at the tram stop, bring lots of coins. The machines don't take bills and they seem to be really picky about which coins they accept. It took the four of us about ten minutes until we could all get our passes.
  • Once on the tram, stand with your back against the wall or keep ahold of your backpack/bag. Because the tram can be crowded and a little confusing, I bet it's really easy to be pickpocketed and not even notice.
  • Keep your used tram tickets: they'll make a nice addition to your scrapbook! (Or is that just me? Oh well!)

Happy campers with our tram tickets!

But anyhow, moving on to the most important part of the story ... GROCERY SHOPPING! Once we arrived at Odysseum (which is, by the way, a giant, two-story outdoor mall -- hyper chouette), we headed straight to Casino Geant. I'm not exaggerating when I say that was everything we could have hoped for and more.

The store, which itself is part of the mall, is ginormous! It has a boulangerie with fresh bread, a bucherie with tons of meat from local farmers, fresh fruits and veggies as well as really any type of packaged food you could want, as well as clothes, movies, electronics, kitchen supplies, makeup, toiletries, etc. Compared to the tiny epicieries we've been shopping (read: buying yogurt) in, it was very impressive. And the prices were much more reasonable than those of the smaller grocery stores near campus.

Still, despite access to a supremely well-stocked super market, we're limited both by our lack of cooking equipment and by the fact that the dorm kitchens have only stove tops -- no microwaves or ovens! I guess I'll just have to eat bread and cheese? C'est dommage... 


  1. So cool! I'm glad y'all ventured out on the tram. I saw pictures of it online and it is so cute! It's kind of shame they didn't tell you ahead of time about the eating arrangements, but I'll stay positive and be happy you have rediscovered yogurt!

  2. Moi, j'adore le saucisson sec!

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