14 December 2012

Asian foods and king-size beds

There's no talk of snow on the news or weather this morning, so I wonder if the whole storm didn't fizzle out. When I got up yesterday and took Callie outdoors just a sunrise (8:30 a.m.), the grass, the gravel paths, the cars, and the paved road were completely glazed over. By 9:30, when we left for Tours, everything had started to melt.

Tours, a city of 300,000, is about 35 miles (60 km) west of Saint-Aignan. We drove over on two-lane highways. There was almost no traffic, and the road surfaces were wet but not slippery. We don't go into the center of Tours, but to the shopping areas around the east side of the city. Yesterday, we needed to go to the Asian supermarket and to Ikea.

Paris Store is a chain of supermarkets in France specializing in imported foods

For most things, we have everything we need here in the Saint-Aignan area ("metro" pop. 10,000), with our two largish supermarkets, two smaller ones, the open-air markets in Saint-Aignan itself (Saturday), across the river in Noyers-sur-Cher (Sunday), Montrichard (10 miles west), and Selles-sur-Cher (10 miles east). But for some things, we will drive the 35 miles to Tours or the 25 miles north to Blois several times a year.

Sauces, condiments, and canned goods for making Asian-style dishes

Our main shopping in Tours has to do with exotic and imported foods. I've blogged about the Paris Store Asian supermarket many times. There used to be one in Blois, which is closer to us, but it shut down a year or two ago. The closest one is in the shopping area in the northern section of Tours, and we are lucky to have it.

Need any noodles? Nous en avons...

Pâte d'arachide
We go over there and stock up on noodles, rice, tofu (in cans), sauces of all kinds, and frozen shrimp (for example) two or three times a year. We could almost open our own Asian market with all the supplies we have down in our cold-storage pantry. Yesterday, we were happy to find a one-kilogram bag of black peppercorns for €12.95. That quantity of peppercorns would cost €100 €50 at SuperU (I checked the price again). We also picked up a few jars of chunky peanut butter, which is not that easy to find around here.

If you live in Paris or other big cities, finding imported products is not a problem, of course. Eight or nine years ago, we would frequently drive up to Paris to re-supply the Asian shelves in our pantry, but that's an eight-hour drive round-trip. Now we just drive the hour or so over to Tours and the hour back.

The far wall of the cellier (pantry): Are we becoming survivalists?

Féculents (starches): beans, pasta, rice, flour

Recently, we discovered that Ikea in Tours now sells fitted and flat sheets for American-standard king-size beds. Until this year, we've had to make do with the sheets we brought over from the U.S. nearly 10 years ago, and with a few king-size sheet sets that we've brought back from the U.S. on our annual trips back to see family and friends. But king-size sheets are heavy and bulky, taking up a good portion of the space in your suitcase when you travel.

We'd never been able to find king-size sheets here in France. They just don't have such large beds — the largest French beds are 160 cm wide, and our American one is 180 cm wide. We moved it here in 2003 without thinking about the problem of getting sheets for it 10 years down the line.

If and when we replace the mattress on our big bed, we'll need to buy two twin mattresses, each 90 cm wide. Then we'll be able to get fitted sheets (singles) easily, and flat sheets aren't a problem. The mattress we have is fine, and we don't want to replace it any time soon — especially since we can now get fitted sheets for it more or less locally.

Big problems, eh? Well, that's everyday life when you're an American expatriate in rural France.


  1. We bought two single 90 by 200 mattresses at IKEA to achieve our king size bed that we were used to back home.
    The first Gite we rented, advertised with a "king size" bed, but it definitely was not.....

  2. You can buy 180cm mattresses & sheets in France but its just not as common (and therefore more expensive) but not that hard to find.

  3. Where, MilkJam? Not at any of our local stores (but maybe they could special-order them) and not at, say, La Redoute, as far as I can tell.

  4. Do you not have the big chain stores where you live? We have them in Cherbourg - you must have them in Tours!

    But is where we got ours (a 160 but great quality) here's a link for the 180 http://catalogue.but.fr/Literie/Matelas/Matelas/index-c2251/N-8671-taille~180-x-200-cm

  5. Thank you all for your kind wishes for my 88th birthday.

  6. 40+ years ago, the largest mattress in France was 140, standard double bed. We were in a studio setup, and had 2 80cm (singles) in an L formation for sofas when we had company, or together most of the time. And we had to make do with single-size fitted sheets (but even fitted sheets of any kind were hard to find). We'd tied the legs of the beds together to keep them from separating. I eventually made 160 fitted sheets from flats. The standard length was 190. Now, it's 200. Now, I only wish the US would adopt cm, because I often find sheets I like in the US catalogs, and they are less expensive, better quality than here, but just a few inches too narrow or too long or not enough, so I don't buy.

  7. The Marks & Soencer France web site translates "King size" (152cm) as "Double Large" and "Super King Size" (163cm) as "double extra large". They have flat and fitted sheets and the web site gives the dimensions of the sheets themselves. You can switch between French and English at will! Pauline PS Ikea often has secret passages that enable those in the know to bypass e.g. the display rooms. Between the kiddies area and the toilettes is a good place to start.

  8. Thanks, MilkJam. There is a But store in Blois, and of course in Tours. I'll have a look at the catalogue.

    Ellen, I guess French people have been getting taller — not to say "bigger" — over the past 40 years. And it's true that some of the sheets I've brought back from the US don't fit our bed very well, even though it came from the US too. Maybe things are evolving there too.

  9. Hi Pauline. 152 cm or 163 cm wide fitted sheets wouldn't fit our mattress at all. Oh well.

    I just looked on the web to see if I could find 180 x 200 fitted sheets in France. CDiscount says they have them, but when you look all you see are 160 and 140 wide sheets. No 180 wides at all. Ikea is the only place I've found. We didn't even go upstairs yesterday; we just went into the self-service section.

  10. Pauline, looking at amazon.co.uk, I see that sheets sized at 180 cm x 200 cm are called "Super King Size" in the UK. I hadn't thought about ordering sheets from over there, but then I also don't want to pay the shipping!

  11. Just saw that 180 x 200 sheets are available from amazon.fr. Prices are higher than at Ikea, but it's good to know. It's also not like you need to buy new sheets every week or month... or even every year!

  12. Unless, like some Pauline and I bought that pilled very rapidly and are no dustsheets!! Very expensive dustsheets!!

  13. Hello Ken,
    We had a 180 X 210 for seven years, that was hard to get sheets (sent for them in Belgium - but very expensive, ended up buying rolls of linen and making them myself). Have since changed last year to 180 x 200(limit for me!!). 'Zara home' (Rouen) has had really good linen sheets up to 180 (fitted, flat and duvets) the last two years (spring/summer) not too expensive - bought in bulk in the sales as well - sorted!! They do have cotton also.
    Love your food stock! Have a good weekend.
    - Ivan

  14. We switched from a king-size bed to two singles because Robb has a tendency to end up with all the covers on his side of the bed. It works out much better if we both have our own covers.

  15. You do have a small Asian shop down in that pantry! But, then, you make some fantastic meals and I do not read about you eating out regularly, so one needs supplies to feel like the cookbook is there for experimentation and nothing is keeping you from the preparation.
    I operate that way with my crafts - and a little bit with my cooking, too. Shopping for just one or two items has never been my forte - I go for those large shopping trips - hehehe with the big bills due at the register.

  16. The food stores in your pantry resemble the stockpiles of food seen in the homes of people featured on "Doomsday Preppers", aired weekly on the National Geographic Channel.
    By the way, how are you planning on transporting all of your supplies to Bugarach by Dec. 21?

  17. LOL, Dean. Maybe a drive down into the Pyrenees is just what the Peugeot doctor ordered (see today's post).

    Mary, living out in the country, I tend to stockpile food. Don't want to have to go to the market more often than necessary...

  18. Bon, bah, je n'ai plus qu'à vous importer des draps de chez Zara, lol !!!
    Mais tu peux les acheter en ligne, moi, je trouve ça cher...


    Here are some tips... I think "Blancheporte" should be much less expensive..


    "L'achat sur Internet

    S’il n’est pas évident de trouver du linge de lit en taille king size en magasin, la tâche est un peu plus aisée sur Internet.
    Drap-house.fr propose une sélection de draps housse 200 x 200cm en coton à partir de 52 euros (prix moyen constaté en mai 2011). Sur ce site, vous pourrez également acheter un protège matelas pour lit king size à 43 euros (prix moyen constaté en mai 2011).
    Blancheporte.fr vous permettra aussi d’habiller votre grand lit. Le drap housse de couleur blanc ou bleu ciel coûte 34,39 euros (prix moyen constaté en mai 2011).
    Sur les 3suisses.fr, vous trouverez un seul modèle de drap housse pour lit king size. Il s’agit du drap Sanitized, traité antibactérien et en pur coton à partir de 23,99 euros (prix moyen constaté en mai 2011).
    D’autres sites commercialisent du linge pour les literies hors du commun comme Literie-mania.com, Linnea.fr, ou encore Delamaison.fr."

    Sur ce, faites de beaux rêves :-)

  19. Some months ago i have buy a king size mattress for my kind size bed. The old one is not so good hardly it's time period is 6 months..... Visit more here

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