13 March 2009

Shopping in Amboise

Last night we went over to Montrichard to meet up with the visiting American couple from Scotland. Walt and I were trying to remember the last time we were in Montrichard (pop. about 5,000) at night. It had been years, even though Montrichard is only 10 miles from Saint-Aignan. We don't get out much. More about Montrichard later...

Before meeting our friends for dinner, we drove on up to Amboise to do some shopping at the Centre Leclerc "superstore" (in French, un hypermarché) there. We needed some specific gardening things from that store — things we had seen advertised in the store's latest publicité, which we get in the mail every week.

We were surprised to find that the Leclerc in Amboise has been seriously modernized since we were there last. They've put in a huge revolving door that spins slowly all day long, it appears, during business hours. It's voluminous enough to accommodate customers pushing shopping carts. The carts are kept in racks out in the parking lot.

When you enter through the giant revolving door, you find yourself not in the Leclerc store itself, as before, but in a little shopping mall. We didn't pay too much attention to mall's individual shops, because our time was limited and we wanted to get into the Leclerc garden center ASAP.

We found what we were looking for pretty fast — including some inexpensive planter boxes that we'll plant flowers in — with one exception. We needed a tray with a clear, domed lid in which to start some seedlings for the vegetable garden. We ended up having to go down the road to the garden center called Le Baobab for that.

A "growth tunnel" for the vegetable garden

We also got two tunnels de jardin under which we'll plant seedlings out in our garden plots later this month or in April. That will give us a head start on this year's garden. There is a danger of frost until May 15, so without the tunnels we'd need to wait an extra month or more. Here's a link to the manufacturer's site.

I'm convinced, by the way, that we are going to have a great vegetable garden this year, because the weather is going to be consistently warm and sunny, with just enough rain in the nighttime hours to keep the plants happy. Have I mentioned that I am an optimist?

We also bought some groceries while we were at Leclerc, including sausages and meats we'll need when we make a choucroute garnie — sauerkraut with smoked meats — over the weekend. More about that later too.

By the way, you can tell you are in "the big city" when you go to the Leclerc store in Amboise (pop. 15,000). There's a hustle and bustle we don't have to deal with in Saint-Aignan. And Leclerc stations an employee in the produce section who weighs your tomatoes or onions for you. That way, you can't cheat by dropping in an extra tomato or onion after you've weighed the bag yourself and affixed the price label. The Leclerc employee carefully ties a knot in the plastic bags to keep customers honest.

Not that I would ever engage in such hanky-panky, of course. But at the SuperU in Saint-Aignan, you are trusted to weigh your own produce. I've never noticed anybody cheating. And in the Intermarché over across the river in Noyers, they have an even better system. You put your fruits and vegetables in plastic bags and they weigh them right at the checkout stand. That way you don't forget to weigh your purchases and then have to run back to the scales in the produce department when the cashier finds no price tag on the bags, holding up the entire checkout line while everyone patiently awaits your return. That's always embarrassing.

At Leclerc in Amboise, the cashiers seem to be a little more stylishly dressed, coiffed, and made up, too. And they have that blasé, (other)worldly expression on their faces that says "I'll ring up your groceries but don't even think about engaging me in any idle chit-chat." I think chit-chat is not in their job description.

Just 20 miles away, Amboise seems like another world.


  1. Excellent summary of shopping at different supermarkets in France – I can totally relate to it. Once you've done the arriving at the checkout with your fruit unweighed thing once, you don't tend to do it again!

  2. You are an optimist and a pessimist, depending on the subject matter. I remember last summer you were a pessimist about Obama's chances to win. I told you I put all my faith in the American youth, because the Republicans were, and still are, a bunch of fossilized reaganomics and religion zealots.

  3. It's so great to see you call yourself an optimist! It gave me a chuckle, although I agree with chm... you're both. Most of us are, I think.

  4. I think those plastic tunnels are so cool! If you get too much rain, I think that some of it will be deflected off the top and sent away from the main root balls.

    I'm an optimist, but can turn pessimist in uncertain times. Evil won't win in the end- that's my comforting idea.

    When my daughter and I went to see Obama in January 08, we were mightily impressed with him. It would have been easy to shake his hand that day- I wish I had!

    It is good to have a president who appeals to our youth and youth all over the world.

  5. The best way to test whether you are an optimist or a pessimist is to ask yourself the following question: "Is the bottle of wine in front of you half empty or half full?". I think you can work out the conclusion for yourself :)) Martine

  6. Ken

    Hope you are lucky with your garden this yr. Those plastic tunnels look great - I am collecting all those nifty ideas for shopping on my next trip to France - plastic cork for our home-made wine, plastic tunnels for home gardening ( I have lost so many plants because we put them outside on Victoria Day (mid-may) but then frost sets in and we can't do much)

    It's the first time that I see chm talking about politics :-)

  7. Hi Susan, because we often shop at Intermarché, where they weight the produce at the caisse, we get caught all the time. We got caught again yesterday chez Leclerc.

    CHM, you are revealing all my secrets! Okay, okay, you were right. I say: don't trust or underestimate the Republicans. It's not over until it's over.

    Hey, if I gave the impression that our garden tunnels are plastic, I was mistaken. They are made of cloth, not plastic sheeting.

    My bottle is always half-empty. So sorry, but that's my point of view when it comes to wine. Ginny, I agree with you, as usual.

    Evelyn, look for Walt's post tomorrow. It's in your honor.

  8. Martine, I hope you enjoy your time on the Normandy coast (March? why not, I guess, the weather is probably about the same as in July!), and that your cold and sore throat get better fast.

  9. I do hope you're right re summer weather. Our old friend Georges swears that this year has thirteen full moons again and will be as lasy year.

    I'm praying he's wrong!



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