Living in Europe is not cheap, but what country is? It only took 2 years, but every day I find a new treasure, a new place, a new discovery. I wrote this for people who like a nice savings and need to know where to go for certain things. If you are rolling in the euros and don’t care what things cost then this isn’t the article for you. Here is the list thus far:
LIDL- Lidl is simply a great place. It is a German company just like Aldi stateside. One doesn’t buy everything at Lidl, hence the reason of this blog. I buy vegetables and fruit when I need to during the week, bio milk and eggs, flour and sugar, pasta, tomato sauce, frozen salmon, chocolates, chicken/pork, but not their meats, yogurts, butter, cheese, Nutella (the Lidl brand), and paprika chips. I also do not buy my spices at Lidl because of lack of flavor unless one week they have a major brand nor do I buy their cereal. The best thing about Lidl are their themed weeks, which I never miss. Next week is ski week for adults, so you can pick up quality items made in Germany at 3/4 the price of a french store. My favourite weeks are Asian, Italian, and baking/kitchen weeks. I can get 2 caddies full of groceries at Lidl for around 60-70€ compared to one caddy full at Franprix for well over 100€.
FRANPRIX-This is the go to store in the evening when I need an avocado or am out of a spice. I also buy my cereals there because they have the brands that I like as well as my frozen lunches for work which is the Leader Price brand for under 3€. They are also one of the few places that I can find actual vanilla extract and not the chemical fake kind. Franprix is super expensive, and you can walk out of there with just a small plastic bag of items for well over 20€.
LA VIE CLAIRE-This is our Wild Oats or Trader Joes. It is wildly expensive, but for some reason their spices are under 3€ and of course they are Bio with a large selection. I also can find my butternut squash here during the fall.
CARREFOUR PLANET-This is out in Ecully, which is about a 15 minute drive in the direction of Paris and it is a very dangerous place for me. I rarely leave for under 150€, but the finds are great. The kitchen section is my worst enemy, but since it is like a gigantic Target super store, they have it all. It was one of the only places I found my caddy at a great price when the old one lost its wheel. I pick up odds and ends here like ziploc bags, towels, wash cloths, tools when needed and Qtips. Their clothing section is not bad, though I find Auchan’s clothing section much more modern and more reasonable. Though I recently found a great wallet and scarf here! Food wise, their Bio chipolatas are incredible, which is the closest thing I have found to american morning sausage. They also carry the most delicious indian curry potato chips. They have an international section where you can find a few American items and where I stock up on my american style sugary maple syrup that I grew up on like Mrs. Butterworths. I also love their Mexican section for my fajitas and tacos. Also, their Carrefour brand pina coladas and margaritas are 4€ and quite delicious! I also pick up a wonderful cereal from Canada of muesli and fruits. The funniest part are the employees zooming around on roller blades.
Monoprix-I don’t even try to step foot in Monoprix because it is the most expensive store in Lyon. I only go there if we are on our way to a party and need to pick up something since it is open rather “late” for what is considered late to the French, which is 8:00. Though I do enjoy their clothing line and when they have what they consider sales, I do pop in and find some nice things. I happen to buy my Pear Absolute for my Avenue’s Bistro pear martini because it is the only place that I have found it in Lyon. Plus, one of the few places besides Carrefour that accepts American Express for my Air France/KLM points!
La Grande Pharmacie-This is the best and most inexpensive place to get your prescriptions, which are mostly reimboursed anyway. I pick up my Sensodyne toothpaste here because I can get a double pack for 6€, as well as hand creams, sunscreen, and my Cavailles body soap when I feel like treating myself!
TATI-Oh Tati, Tati, Tati. This is my guilty pleasure. It is like the Marshalls or TJ Maxx of Lyon and I go there for my kitchen and bathroom items. Their kitchen items are amazing with everything you could imagine and the home section is loaded with fun finds. Occasionally, I can find cool tee shirts and shorts during the summer in their clothing section. Also, they often get major name brands on soaps, toothpastes, and other toiletries, so I stock up and put a few in the cave. You just can’t beat their prices!
BABOU-Is like a giant Joannes but cheaper and a bit like Tati but more artsy, crafty, and home items. Usually out in the suburbs.
DROGUERIE-The droguerie is like a hardware store but with anything you can imagine. Usually quite expensive but just really cool to walk through. Here you will find all those hard to find items that you have looked all over Lyon for the past year. Those old fashioned glass spice jars with the metal clasps, lamp berger with a gazillion oil sents, a cooking mold that is just the size you have needed, or the wooden basket you have wanted to take to the marché.
LES MARCHES-The open air markets at the Croix Rousse are opened Monday-Sunday. The hours of the other open air markets around the city all depend and one needs to check their website if they have one. I enjoy the market, but you have to be careful because they can be expensive depending on what you get even moreso than the grocery store. I once bought fresh green beans and paid almost 7€. You have to know which stand to go to as well because a stand two stands down can be almost a 1€ cheaper for the exact same thing. Of course it is as fresh as it gets and a wonderful experience. I always go to the same chicken guy and get my full chicken with baby potatoes with the juice from all the chickens dripping down onto the potatoes for 10€. I have a lunch, a dinner, and lunch for work the next day.
PRINTEMPS-This is our Dillards or Nordstroms and why I will not write much since I just tend to pass by it. Though I do wonder if I had tons of money, would I still spend 250€ on a pair of jeans to say that I bought them at Printemps? Eghhh, not my thing.
LITTLE BRITAIN-This is the american or british persons warm fuzzy. You can find all the stuff that you are homesick for, but you will definitely pay the price. So, I go in for an occasional packet of Pop Rocks, Reeses, or Milky Way (which I can’t even eat any more). But at Thanksgiving, they have cranberry sauce and Libby’s pumpkin filling. It’s just a nice place to go when you want to see a little piece of home.
AUCHAN-Where I go to get my gas because the sans plombe 95 is usually 1,53 or more in the city and 1,43 or so at Auchan, plus they have a 24h pump. This is much like the big Carrefour and is massive. I will go inside after filling up to pick up their Kansas pizza (chorizo, red peppers, and mozarella), and lunch items for work. I also like discussing the various meats with the butcher and usually end up walking out with some.
G. DETOU-A bakers dream. G. Detou is a phenomenal place to get the nonstick baking spray, all the nuts and spices you can dream of and at very reasonable prices.(for France anyway). A small pack of pecans will cost you almost 8€ at Franprix and here you can get a huge bag, with triple the pecans in the bag for 9€. Also, their spices are in giant containers and a fraction of the price of the grocery stores. Their powdered sugar is 2,50€ for a nice size bag as well as carrying the american style brown sugar (the brown sugar in France is very grainy and not moist). They also carry all the oils for cooking that you cannot find anywhere. Just a great, great store and the owners are incredibly kind.
BAHADOURIAN-A huge spice store where you can find anything from A-Z spice wise. They have many items from England as well, and the prices are not out of this world. The place to go when you are looking for that hard to find item or spice. Also, a charming selections of tea pots and teas from around the world.
DECATHLON AND GO SPORT-Where we go for anything sporty, needs for the bike, or tennis shoes. Decathlon is probably the most reasonable. but Go Sport has some really great deals and good prices.
INTERSPORT-I absolutely detest Intersport because they have the most horrid customer service in the world and super expensive. Did I mention how rude they are?
BOULANGER-The Best Buy of the area. Madly and ridicoulously expensive, but when you need a new stove or appliance this is where we go unless you drive out to the suburbs to Darty, which is a tad less expensive.
FNAC-The record/book/computer store. Much like Boulanger, it is hyper cher and you rarely find me there just because I choose not to pay 25 to 35 bucks for earbuds. Amazon.com anyone?
LEROY MERLIN-Our Home Depot or Lowes. I go there when we go out to IKEA in Saint Priest. It really does remind me of home when I go inside. The smell, the aprons on the workers, just the size of it. Nice customer service as well.
LA CROISSANTERIE-The best place to find the most delicious cranberry/pistachio tarte. A Sunday tradition chez nous.
LA BOUCHERIE-You really need to be careful with the butchers because they tend to be so expensive, but when they have a nice promotion, you can get a good cut of meat. Though, honestly, we have bought meats from the grocery store and then compared them to the butchers and didn’t see much of a difference in quality and taste except that from our wallets. Then again, you just need to find a great butcher that you know has quality meats at a good price. Plus the service is usually pretty impeccable and I love the experience of it all.
LA BOULANGERIE-Need I really write anything else? I will say that you will find me here around 5 times a week or so, but it is just a part of life. There is nothing better than going around 5:00 p.m. and spend 1€ and buy a fresh bread (preferably une tradition as it is more crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside) right out of the oven. You nibble on it on the way home and enjoy it with your after work apero. Do I need to mention a fresh croissant on the way to work in the morning? No Wonder or Sara Lee here. Though we do buy Pierre Brunier ou Maître Jean Pierre brioche in the packet for morning toast.
LE CHENAVARD-I will not go into much about restaurants and cafés because that will be a whole separate blog. This little gem was an accidental find from La Fourchette. They have the most delicious steak we have found in Lyon with to die for house made fries, and a salad with a delicious house made vinaigrette. The owner is fantastic and the barman is super, super nice to us and our friends. Just a really nice place to have a great french experience. Also, love the heating lamps during winter to sit outside.
SPECIAL PIZZERIA-A wonderful Sicilian pizzeria, or at least the chef is from Sicily who is a dear friend of ours and who spoils us everytime we are there with her warm smile and delicious cuisine. Especially for this eating area called la rue mercière, where on average the restaurants at this touristic hot spot are just that but “average” and super pricey for tiny portions. The prices at Special are quite reasonable and a quality food. One of the main servers was one of the first people we met here and will be doing an apero at her apartment just this Wendesday. Just another reason to love this fabulous find.
LA KROCHE-Super happy hour. Buy 2 for the price of one and there cosmos are the best that I have found in Lyon. I don’t even have to order when I arrive. Can’t beat that.
LE BROC BAR-Always packed, great heating lamps in the winter with blankets and the service is friendly.
LA CHAPELLE-This started it all in Lyon when I studied here. The owner, Jean Yves, was very patient with the often loud american table in the beginning and very understanding when the margarita glasses were broken. Then when I moved over here, he still greeted me with a warm smile and fills me a nice piscine de rosé all the way to the top. It is where the hippest of the gay men and women go, but I would say it is very mixed crowd because of the gorgeous patio especially during the summer and one of the few places that are open on a Sunday along the river. The service, especially for a gay friendly café has no attitude whatsoever and are very, very friendly. The music can be a bit loud depending on who is bartending, but usually it is just right for that type of cool café. Somehow, I don’t really fit in at my advanced age, but you get to a point where you are handsome at any age and who doesn’t look good wrapped in a fancy scarf? Plus the clientele is from 20-60. France doesn’t really have the ageism thing going on like the US does so it makes it for a comfortable enviornment.
BULL CAFE-A wonderful little café in the Croix Rousse, where I live, with a nice outside terrace and 8,40€ pots of wine. WHERE does one find a pot at that price AND with tea light candles on the tables outside at night to match? The service is always kind and polite and the clientele is a fun mixed crowd. Most pots of wine in the city are 12€, which is absurd so when it is 10€ and under, you have found a good place to chat with friends!
Enough about cafés and restaurants as I will create a blog on those treasures at another date. Happy savings and happy shopping! Faites de bons achats et de bonnes économies!