Products to Purchase in Paris

Meghan Mclaughlin
October 21, 2018

When I traveled to Paris, I brought a lot of stuff with me. This included one giant checked bag, a carry-on suitcase and a tote filled to the brim with, among other things, a neck pillow, a travel-sized tin of Pringles and two novels I didn’t read a page of— the essentials, and then some. 

However, I walked into my new Parisian home for the first time lacking some supplies needed for apartment living in the city. Just two hours after landing at Charles de Gaulle, my roommate and I embarked on one of our first challenges abroad: learning to navigate the grocery store in French.

Living in this apartment in Paris would be the first time I’d live somewhere other than my childhood home or the dorm I resided in for the first two years of college. I had no idea what the essentials to a functioning household were, but I was about to find out.

Mistake number one occurred while I was checking out. I had grabbed a bunch of bananas thinking I would load up on potassium, but I was not aware of the proper procedure to secure said potassium. 

Most produce items must be weighed before checking out. That grocery store had a machine that weighed the produce and printed out a ticket with a barcode on it for the cashier to scan, but other stores may have an attendant who will weigh the produce and print out tickets for customers. 

Some produce items are priced by unit, but it’s safer to try to weigh them to avoid running back to the scale in the middle of checking out, something I embarrassingly did. 

Additionally, I wasted a good amount of time attempting to translate obscure products from French back to English or from English to broken French. To save others some time in the aisles, I have put together a short guide based on some of the products I have purchased thus far in Paris.

Prior to traveling abroad, I did not want to deal with an explosive bottle of my favorite shampoo or conditioner, so I decided to wait and buy it in Paris. The brand I got is called Le Petite Marseillais, and it has the cutest logo. In French, the product is labeled “shampooing. 

For conditioner, the French use a word that makes a little more sense for those who appreciate chronology: “après-shampooing,” or “after shampoo.” For a traditional conditioner that washes out in the shower, many conditioners say “1 minute” somewhere on the bottle. I bought a conditioner that is also Le Petite Marseillais brand. 

And for body wash, another bottle of Le Petite Marseillais. I purchased a large bottle of hypoallergenic body wash, labeled “douche et bain haute tolérance, hypoallergénique.”

I found the face wash I usually use at home in a pharmacy called Parashop. A foaming face wash, the label reads “gel moussant.” 

To wash my clothes, I bought laundry detergent, or “lessive.” I purchased the brand Expert, and I like it so far. Most apartments in Paris do not have dryers, so getting liquid fabric softener helped make my clothes, towels and sheets less stiff once they dried on the drying racks. I bought the Carrefour brand, which is the generic grocery store brand. Fabric softener is called “adoucissant.”

Along with clothes dryers, some apartments don’t come with dishwashers, making dish soap that much more important. My roommate bought Belle France brand “liquide vaisselle,” or dishwashing liquid. 

To clean our counters, tables and bathroom, my roommate bought Carolin brand “multi-surfaces, action immédiate” cleaner. This one is pretty self explanatory. 

In terms of essentials for the kitchen cabinet, my roommates and I have gotten things as we’ve gone along. For salt, we bought La Baleine (the whale) brand “sel fin,” or fine salt.

The most American-like peanut butter we’ve found is Calvé brand. My roommate prefers Nescafé Selection coffee. Another roommate of mine has taken it upon herself to make French toast often while in France. For this reason, she bought maple syrup, or “sirop d’érable” and ground cinnamon, or “cannelle moulue.”

Many items in a French grocery store are easy to identify, yet some obscure products can be surprisingly difficult to locate. To save time and potentially money, it helps to do a little research before wandering the aisles.

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Meghan Mclaughlin

<p>I am a communication and political science student from Seattle, WA. I love my family, friends and hydrangeas. I'm a sucker for 80s movies and crossword puzzles. Although I'm essentially lactose intolerant, my love for ice cream overrules my dietary restrictions.</p>

2018 Fall
Home University:
Santa Clara University
Seattle, WA
Political Science
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