Category Archives: France How To

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores, Episode 197

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores, Episode 197

On today’s episode, I answer a listener’s question. Jacquline is from South Africa and she asks about the prices of common items in France because with the exchange rate, she’s not sure how far her money will stretch, so, let’s talk about food prices at French grocery stores.

Cook with French Ingredients!

If you’re going to be renting an apartment in France via AirB&B or any of the other apartment rental providers (see our episode on the Secrets to Finding an Apartment in Paris) and you’ll have access to a kitchen, you can definitely have great food at a great price!

Get a Cheap Quick Meal

And even if you’re going the hotel route, you probably don’t need a full sit-down meal 3 times a day, right? Why not pickup some ready-made food at a corner grocery store? It will be cheaper than a restaurant, and a lot fast too.

Grab Inexpensive Gifts from France

And, listen. If you’re looking for original and inexpensive gifts you can take back to your friends and family from France, you’ll get lots of suggestions here!

Want to get adventurous and try some of those unusual French foods we discussed on Episode 193, Cornucopia of Bizarre French Foods? You can buy many of them at a French grocery store and live dangerously in France!

Learn More

If you’re interested in doing France on a budget, you’ll learn lots more by listening to France on the Cheap: Bus Transportation in France, Episode 75 and Paris on a Budge, Episode 141.

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Photos of Food Prices at French Grocery Stores

Breakfast Foods

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: breakfast foods
Starbucks from the grocery store, milk, and coffee for Nespresso machines.

Candy and Chocolate Bars

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: chocolate bars and French candy
Vichy mints, Fraises Haribo and chocolate bars in French grocery stores.

French Champagne from the Grocery Store

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: the price of champagne

Rosé and Beer Prices at French Grocery Stores

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: beer and rosé vine

Common Wines You Can Buy at a French Grocery Store

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: wine in a bag, red and white.
Wine in a bag, red and white wines.

Cheeses at French Grocery Stores

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: 4 types of cheese

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: 4 different types of cheeses

Condiments as Great Gifts

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: mustard, pickles, salt, herbs

Meats & Cold Cuts

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: dry saussage, pâté, prosciuto

Regional French Foods

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: regional french foods you can try

Produce Prices at French Grocery Stores

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: lettuce, apples, tomatoes, bananas

Annie’s Favorite Cookies

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: cookies

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: cookies

Personal Care Products

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: personal care products

Wonderful Yogurts You Must Try!

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: yogurts

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: yogurts

Food Prices at French Grocery Stores: yogurts

What to Pack to Look Stylish in Paris, Episode 195

What to Pack to Look Stylish in Paris

On today’s episode, I chat with David Palachek about how to dress for Paris. We’ll be sharing actionable advice you can use to pack your suitcase for Paris and look great in the city of light.

Some of the tricks French women use to look good are surprisingly simple. Annie asked a lot of stylish French women how they do it, and it turns out that they all follow the same basic rules!

If you’re interested in dressing sharp in Paris, also listen to Paris Packing List, Episode 137.

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David Palacheck wearing his aviator glasses, a purple sport coat and a colorful scarf

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

  • [03:05] We’re not fashion professional, but rather regular people who care about packing the right clothes for Paris.
  • [04:03] You don’t have to change how you dress unless you enjoy the process of figuring out how to look best and what to pack to look stylish in Paris.
  • [05:33] The advice Annie will be sharing comes from stylish women in her life, not from professionals. These are opinions, not commandments!
  • [06:14] Take basic clothes that can travel well and can be mixed and matched, and buy accessories when you get to Paris.
  • [07:31] Don’t bring clothes that need to be ironed. If something needs a little help, the steam produced in the shower can help de-wrinkle to some extent. Or you could get a product such as this one that gets great review from travelers. Or get shirts like this one made for travel.
  • [09:35] The secret sauce that most French fashion-conscious people follow and that you can apply to yourself as well.
  • [10:03] Break the codes on purpose and thoughtfully.
  • [11:21] Mix and match formal and casual.
  • [13:27] Beware of blacks, various colors hide inside of blacks.
  • [14:13] Mix old and new.
  • [16:02] Own your clothes, don’t let your clothes own you.

3 year old boy with red hair wearing holey jeans, tennis shoes, a black t-shirt and a perfecto jacket

  • [16:14] Pushing the boundaries with the color wheel.
  • [16:48] Clothes choices for people who are not afraid of color.
  • [17:48] Great-looking clothes choices for more conservative dressers.
  • [18:44] Tie dye is not a thing in France for the most part. I saw a tiny bit of it last summer, but it didn’t catch on.
  • [19:44] You don’t have to wear heels to go visit the Eiffel Tower or do any of the other things tourists enjoy.
  • [20:02] There are a lot of cobbled streets in Paris, which is one reason why heels are not be ideal.
  • [20:52] It’s good if you can pick tennis shoes with some texture or a hint of color.
  • [21:08] Classy Sunday dress goes with tennis shoes and either a perfecto leather jacket or a jean jacket.
  • [22:13] Casual cotton dress goes with dressy shoes or dressy accessories.
  • [22:42] Jeans with holes go with dressy heels, women over age 50 really shouldn’t wear holey jeans.
  • [23:48] Slacks with a dress shirt and tennis shoes. Dressy shorts with tennis shoes. Jean shorts with dressier shoes. Shorts and heels is trashy.
  • [24:13] You can either show off your legs or your boobs, but not both.
  • [25:08] No shirts with the arms cut off on men.
  • [26:10] T-shirts are OK if they are plain. No Mickey Mouse t-shirts, no bright colors, no t-shirts with jokes. Men can dress up a t-shirt with a jacket or sport coat.
  • [26:54] Leggings and yoga pants are not really worn besides when doing sports, but if you love them, pair them up with something dressy on top.
  • [27:17] Fashions change so fast for tights that you’re better off buying your tights when you get to France after you’ve seen what other people wear.
  • [27:47] Get a nice haircut before you come, so you feel happy with your hair.
  • [28:16] French women wear big necklaces.
  • [28:56] French women often own (and bring out!) different color purses.
  • [29:12] Caps for me are OK, but it depends on the cap. No sports team mascots on your hats!
  • [30:07] Choose caps that look different from your regular baseball cap.
  • [30:59] T-shirts are OK, but don’t just throw on a t-shirt just to get dressed. Jokes t-shirts are not big in France. Wear t-shirts that are more “passe-partout” (something that goes everywhere, a master key).
  • [32:25] Leggings and yoga pants are not pants, which doesn’t mean that you’ll never see them, but they “should” be reserved for exercising.
  • [33:08] If you like to wear a hat, try paper boy hats or driving caps.
  • [34:01] The types of sneakers that are in fashion in France now.
  • [35:04] Beware of Paris weather, it can be wet a lot of the year.
  • [36:05] French people do not all wear black all the time.
  • [36:53] Packing mostly neutral colors makes it easier to pack because you can rotate things around and most of them will go together.
  • [37:13] French people own a lot of different jackets and use them to change their look very effectively.
  • [38:30] Be careful how you dress or scam artists will target you all the time: David’s experience.
  • [40:21] How the ring scam works.
  • [40:36] How not to fall for the ring scam or any other scam: don’t talk to them, pretend they’re not even there and walk on!
  • [41:11] Shoes are the most important part of your outfit because you will walk a lot in Paris, many visitors walk 20,000 steps each day!
  • [42:19] If you’re like Beyonce and always wear heels even around your house because that’s most comfortable to you, then so be it!
  • [42:38] Break your shoes in before the trip!
  • [42:50] When in Paris, count on getting wet. Bring at least two pairs of walking shoes.

graphic that shows the names of various necks for women's clothing

  • [43:12] Tips for people who travel light and only bring a carry-on.
  • [44:48] No socks with sandals. No white socks with dress shoes. Only kids get to wear colorful socks. We mostly wear black socks.
  • [46:27] Keep an eye out for sales men wearing a fitted suit, a colorful dress shirt, and super pointy shoes. It seems to be the unspoken “uniform” of all young sales guys in France!
  • [47:43] Try walking around Versailles or the Louvre in heels!
  • [47:57] Basketball shorts are not street attire in France, leave them at home.
  • [48:43] If you have a teen who is stubborn about what they’ll wear and not wear, don’t fight them too much. Kids get away with a lot, even in France.
  • [49:12] People in France wear all sorts of types of jeans.
  • [49:54] Scarves! French people wear them all the time, both men and women. Different types of scarves are good for different times of the year.
  • [52:12] What about t-shirts? Can I wear t-shirts in France?
  • [53:10] All the different types of shirts French women wear instead of t-shirts.
  • [54:10] Do French men wear polo shirts? Not very often.
  • [54:55] French people wear fitted clothes, even the fluffier French people do that. It looks better.
  • [55:48] Steve and David’s pre-Paris regimens.
  • [58:14] Bags for both men and women: it’s about good looks and safety too.
  • [59:35] Beware of the backpack, they are not safe.
  • [60:23] What bag should photographers take? They should be more judicious about what lens to carry!
  • [61:37] By now smart phone cameras do the job really nicely for most things. Not all, but good enough for everyone by photo nerds.
  • [63:21] Don’t take all your credit cards with you. Don’t take your US driver’s license with you. Only carry a photocopy of your passport with you. Leave all that stuff in the hotel safe! Be super careful with your phone when you’re in Paris also.
  • [65:27] There are 140,000 theft events in Paris every year. Those are incidents where a person’s purse or phone gets stolen without violence.
  • [66:16] What coats and jackets to take to Paris.
  • [67:30] Don’t try to be somebody you’re not just because you’re coming to Paris. Bring yourself and be comfortable.
  • [68:49] Saying “bonjour” will go a long way, but don’t smile all the time. French people don’t.
  • [69:16] Misconceptions: We don’t all wear black. We do wear shorts. We do wear tennis shoes. There are poorly dressed French people, you will see them when you come!
  • fashionable tennis shoes on a store display in france
    Photo Annie Sargent

Moving to France on a Long Stay Tourist Visa

Moving to France on a Long Stay Tourist Visa, Episode 192

In this episode Claire and Annie chat about how Claire and her husband moved to France on a long stay tourist visa. Because Claire was born in France and moved to the US at age 4, she thought she could to move to France as a French citizen and apply for a visa for her husband. But the French Consulate in Chicago told her she wasn’t really French (we never elucidate why!) and she applied to move to France on a long term tourist visa instead.

Moving to France on a long stay tourist visa worked perfectly and on today’s show we go through all the steps she had to go through. Things went smoothly, and like we found on Episode 131, Moving to France on a Talents and Abilities Visa, things go smoothly if you are prepared with all the necessary paperwork!

Some of the questions we address are where do you start? How do you get an address in France? How do you get a bank account in France? What about moving your dog or pets to France? How fast can you get access to French healthcare? Do you have regrets since moving to France?

Recommended on this episode: Expat ForumLiving in France Made Easy, Moon Living in France, Retiring in France.

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man and woman smiling: claire and tony armstrong
Claire and Tony Armstrong.

Moving to France on a Long Stay Tourist Visa Timestamps

[2:21] Claire was born in France, but the French Consulate didn’t consider her to be a French citizen when she applied for her national identity card. The rules are explained here, in French. We’re not lawyers or relocation specialists, please don’t ask us about your particular case.

List of Papers Needed to Move to France on a Long Term Tourist Visa

[05:32] How to get your Consular appointment and list of paperwork they will require for a long term tourist visa.

[06:46] Health insurance requirement and how to easily fulfill that.

[07:31] Proof of residence requirement is harder to get and how to do it the easy way: rent a Gîte. If you speak French, another great tip is to use Le Bon Coin, there are lots of rentals by owner listed there.

[12:39] Proof of sufficient means to support yourself for the time you’re going to be there. Details of what that means exactly.

[15:30] Signed statement that indicates what you intend to do while in France and another one that states that you will not work in France.

[16:10] Application Fee. They do not accept credit cards even though their site says they do! This whole thing happened in one day because they had all the paperwork ready. They left their passports behind and got their visas a couple of weeks later in the mail.

[17:18] Filling with the OFII when you get to France. Medical exam and sticker.

[19:14] They will give you an appointment at the Préfecture that you cannot change. Providing the paperwork all over again for the yearly renewal and getting an actual card.

[21:53] In France, never take no for an answer. Plead your case! Restate your reasons. Don’t give up too fast!

smiling woman holding a file folder
Claire and one of her folders.

Qualifying for the French Health Card

[23:42] Dealing with French health care and getting a carte vitale.

[25:08] Reasons why French health care is so wonderful.

Opening a Bank Account in France

[26:58] Opening a bank account in France.

[27:18] Start with getting an address and proper proof that you have an address (i.e. a lease or deed of ownership).

[28:00] You can’t walk into a bank and open an account in France. They will want you to make an appointment and come back 2 weeks later.

[28:43] Some French banks will not open accounts with Americans.

[29:53] Americans living in France are supposed to file and pay taxes in the US. Dealing with filing for taxes in France also.

Move Your Stuff or Sell It?

[35:18]  Moving your stuff over to France and what to pack, what to sell?

[36:00] Bringing American appliances to France, worth it or not?

[37:45] The sticker shock of moving companies and all the paperwork you will need to keep.

Moving a Dog to France

[39:24] Moving a dog to France: use Air France, your dog can fly on the same plane as you do.

[43:04] What was the most painful part about moving to France?

[44:48] Life in a French village is really slow.

[46:48] What was a pleasant surprise about moving to France? Rural areas in France are cheap, and French people are not big consumers.

[49:11] When people around you don’t understand why you’d want to move.

[50:47] Resources recommended, see list above. Those books were good because they provide checklists and steps of what you need to do to establish your household in France.

[52:22] Container showing up late, very late. It’s important to get the timing right.

black labrador dog sitting at a café outdoors
Claire and Tony’s dog enjoying the good life at a French café

Is It Important that You Speak Some French?

[54:58] How important is it to speak French? It’s vital! At least one of you needs to have decent French or life will become so full of misunderstandings, you’ll get discouraged and hate it.

[56:08] How do you decide where to move to in France? How did you pick your place?

[59:52] Can you share any tips for buying a car in France? Again, things take time. You won’t drive off the lot with the car the day you choose it. You have to line up the payment and paperwork, even if you’re paying “cash”.

[62:17] What do you wish you knew before you moved to France?

[63:09] Get involved locally and integrate. Find associations for sports or hobbies or volunteer opportunities.

[65:17] Life in small villages in France: how small is too small? Small places don’t have enough businesses.

[68:18] Why didn’t you move to France when you were still working?

[69:16] Finding work in France is very difficult. Come as a retiree, or get your job to transfer you, or if you’re a freelancer who can work from anywhere.

[70:04] Even freelancers get health insurance in France, so if you can pull it off, it’s great. And if you pay for medical care out of pocket in France, it’s still crazy cheap compared to the prices in America.

[71:08] When French people complain about our health care (which we do!) it’s usually because some medicine has been taken off the list of reimbursed drugs due to the fact that enough studies have shown that it does nothing.

Making Payments in France

[72:50] Direct withdrawals in France, “prélèvements”, the need to have a Relevé d’identité bancaire with you. Different ways to conduct transactions in France.

[74:47] French administration is very picky and paperwork hungry. Set up your utilities bills in both names if you have a significant other!

[76:39] Because French administrators are prickly, if you show up for your visa meeting without all of your documentation, they will make you come back two months later or whenever another appointment opens.

[77:31] If you hate papers, France is not for you. But Claire thinks that living here is so nice, it’s worth putting up with the red tape!

Tony walking on a scenic rural road in France
Photo Claire Armstrong.