Calais shopping booty!

Calais shopping trip Cite Europe Carrefour - 1

For twelve months I’ve been on the verge of setting up a French travel site and I may possibly even get the thing live soon.

That said, even if I was publishing stuff on my new site, probably the contents of this weekend’s Calais shopping splurge in Carrefour would be more at home here anyway.

I have hankered after a proper look around the Cite Europe complex at Calais for a couple of years. Whenever I’ve been past, I’ve been short of time or cruelly taunted by French Sunday trading hours.

To make things worse, I’ve even stayed in hotels just across the road but not been able to convince my husband to delay our journey south in order for me to get my shopping fix.

So this weekend I was determined to put this right. We went across via Eurotunnel for three days and two nights and I dedicated our first morning to shopping in Calais. I should save a better description of what’s on offer there for the phantom French site however I thought readers here would be more interested in the contents of my shopping basket.

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Carrefour at Calais has a fantastic selection of cookery books – one of the best I’ve seen in a French hypermarket. This was the biggest selection of books I’d seen other than in proper city bookshops. (Some French supermarkets stock cookery books, occasionally a lot but frequently only a few.)

I added to my collection of “Les 30 Recettes Culte” with these three volumes on yogurt, feta cheese and TWIX.

“Mignardise Sucrees” roughly translated is sweet bitesize bakes i.e. the same name as my own book Sweet Bitesize Bakes so I couldn’t resist picking this up.

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I didn’t pick up many groceries since we were not self catering and I already have a guilty hoard of French jars in my kitchen.

Some items I thought worth selecting were:

  • Packet macaron mix – I was intrigued to see how these came out.
  • Sucre chouquettes – you see these on top of brioche but never for sale in the UK.
  • Violet syrup – difficult to buy in the UK and expensive. This bottle was a bargain at Β£3.
  • Blackcurrant coulis – I opted for blackcurrant since I can easily make raspberry coulis myself whereas blackcurrants are trickier to get hold of.
  • Teisseiere strawberry syrup – Although this is one of my favourite summer French drinks to order in bars, I don’t tend to drink it at home. My husband snook this into the trolley.

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Funnily enough, although I’ve kept banging on about the French website, I actually started one of sorts before Maison Cupcake. And one of it’s only posts was about canned potato gratin. On that occasion it was from Lidl in the UK although sadly Lidl only stock it occasionally for French promotions rather than all the year round.

So whenever I get opportunity I stock up on several cans of it in French supermarkets.

It’s pre-cooked thin slices of potato in a garlicky creamy sauce and you simply bung it in an oven dish and bake for 25 minutes.

If you’re coming back from France by car, do buy some. The cans are always 850g so rather heavy if you’re flying!

I also bought a wad of beige check tea towels. I have an irrational affection for French tea towels…

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Finally I grabbed some white crockery in various shapes. These items are all Carrefour’s own label range and similar prices to supermarket own brand crockery in the UK. I think you’ll agree they look more sophisticated though!

The pots in the middle look like egg cups but they’re actually cylinders for desserts. I can’t wait to get photographing some creations in these.

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These items were by another brand called “Quid”. I especially like the rectangular plates since they’re shallow and won’t create shadows around food in photos.

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Finally I should ‘fess up that this wasn’t the end of it.

On leaving France, we spent two days in Belgium where I discovered Bruges’ answer to Divertimenti, Dille & Kamille. It was THE best kitchen shop I’d ever been in in my entire life. My husband patiently sat outside for nearly an hour!

I can’t show you what’s in the bag yet because I haven’t unwrapped it all. I think the lady must have thought I was crazy only buying one of everything.

What do you like to buy in French supermarkets?




  1. says

    Everything looks great! let us know how the macarons come out! I’m curious too. I’ll be in Paris next month, hopefully I can bring some goodies too! πŸ˜‰ Can’t wait! Any suggestions of places (related to food) I should definitely visit, are welcome :)

  2. Yvette says

    Love this post! I commission my mother to go shopping for me every time she’s in France; she is right now, so I will be texting to request violet syrup! Re the sugar, I buy a similar product in Austria, where they call it Hagelzucker – hailstone sugar – but when I run out, preserving sugar is a good alternative. I think though, that your coulis is blackberry, not blackcurrant!

    • Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

      LOL, blackberry, you are right! Damn, and actually I can get those quite easily when they’re in season!

      • Yvette says

        Am sure the blackberry will still be delicious. I just now texted my mother to ask her to buy me some violet syrup before she comes back to the UK in a couple of days; she replied that she had done just that yesterday as a surprise!

  3. says

    Lovely set of goodies – especially the Twix cookbook! We nip across via the “Chunnel” with the car quite often as Folkestone is only a 30 minute drive from us. Last time we went, we bought all the wine and champagne for our wedding, it came up a lot cheaper than if we’d bought it in the UK including petrol and fares. I stock up on Le Parfait jars, cheap speculoos spread, and confit duck. Must pick up some of that tinned dauphinoise next time!

    • Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

      Oh you are lucky – I am tempted to move to Kent just to be nearer! It’s not too far from us but the potential to get stuck in traffic leaving London is great.

      I forgot to buy more speculoos spread – oh well, going back in 2 months πŸ˜‰

  4. says

    Dille and Kamille is one of my fave ever shops – they’re also in Holland. And I absolutely love the chouquette sugar, I use them to make chouquettes, similar to choux buns, but studded with this sugar and light textured.

    I would have had a field’s day there – I love any shopping in France!

    • Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

      Sigh… I am SO sad I couldn’t drive over to visit you when you were in Holland. Now that Ted’s bigger it would be so much easier. I did think of you whilst I was so close to the Dutch border!

  5. says

    Ooh we often stop over when we pass through. I love it. Shall be doing the same in August. Love the props and Belgian stuff too!

  6. says

    oh and Bakery bits do nibbed sugar that would work for Chouquettes too. Just in case you are deprived between French trips! x

  7. says

    A whole cookbook of Twix recipes?!? Crazy French… πŸ˜‰ I am besotted with French supermarkets – the prop shopping is always excellent, not to mention the vast selection of saucisson sec. I always bring back jars of duck rillettes & foie gras entier, and those tins of cassoulet that you get there. The tinned potatoes are a new one for me – will look out for them on my next visit!

    • Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

      LOL, they don’t sound quite so classy as rillettes and cassoulet but I’m sure you’d enjoy them!!