A spot of retail therapy!

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Last week I had a date with my wonderful friend and cheerleader, Debra, to tour some of the bio (organic) shops of Limoges, about 45 minutes away, and the nearest city or town of any note when it comes to having choice. As many of you know, I live in a rural area so it’s not always easy to get slightly unusual ingredients or a good variety of organic products (though I’m pleased to say that in recent years this has come a long way in many supermarkets around these parts, with the ‘bio’ selection steadily growing).

Due to the lack of access to products locally, I’ve often purchased online or had certain things sent over from the UK. I’ve even skipped recipes because it just seemed too much effort to track things down. I’m sure those of you in rural areas anywhere are familiar with this thought process… and for those of us in France, before we can track it down we need to know it’s name in French!

So, I’d been meaning to check out the options in Limoges but to be honest, with limited time and the fact that I didn’t really have high hopes for what would be on offer, I didn’t make it a priority. But a casual chat with Debra and an excuse for a ladies lunch, was a good enough incentive to get my butt in gear! But just to make it clear, I wasn’t specifically searching for organic items (although I do opt for organic when financially viable), but knew that this was probably my best option for finding many of those elusive ingredients.

So where did we go…?

First up was Biocoop, followed by La Vie Claire, Planète Nature and finally Le Grand Panier Bio. They all offered a really good range of products that I have just never seen in any standard supermarkets so they are all worth a visit. Biocoop and La Vie Claire were smaller shops so had a limited range compared to the other two, but still impressive. Both have stores all over France so you may well find larger stores near you. La Vie Claire is also progressive with an online shopping service! No home delivery though, you still have to pick up instore. Planète Nature and Le Grand Panier Bio were much larger and I personally preferred these two, though Planète Nature has just 2 stores and Le Grand Panier Bio has 6. Le Grand Panier Bio was best for its array of organic fresh veg. If you could afford to do all your shopping in these two stores, there wouldn’t be much you couldn’t find – as well as food, the stock includes cosmetics, toiletries, baby supplies, pet foods, cleaning products and more. But of course, most of us can’t afford to shop exclusively in these stores as organic anything generally comes with a higher price tag. This isn’t a guarantee though, there are often really competitively priced organic products, so do your own research.

I was hoping to be able to suggest which is best on price between these four but to be honest, there wasn’t an obvious distinction… one shop would be cheaper for some products but more expensive for others. Probably for overall choice and value I’d opt for Le Grand Panier Bio, but don’t be put off trying them all as they were all modern, clean shops with friendly staff and depending on what you are looking for, one store might suit you better than another.

What I loved was the variety… 

Flours, oils, vinegars, pastas, grains, seeds, nuts, teas and so much more… there was a really impressive choice that I simply didn’t expect to find in Limoges so it was a pleasant surprise. There was also a great selection of gluten free products which is increasingly popular.

I came home with a whole load of goodies including a ridiculous amount of coconut oil. Not always easy to find here so I’m now well stocked as this has become one staple that I don’t want to ever run out of! I’m pretty confident that between these shops there won’t be much I can’t find for future recipes!

Here are the links for each store:
La Vie Claire
Planète Nature
Le Grand Panier Bio
Rayons Verts (We didn’t get to visit this one but it’s another option for you)

And it wouldn’t be right to not mention Grand Frais!

You probably know I’m a big fan of their impressive range of fresh fruit and veg and nuts in particular… and definitely the place to go for more unusual fresh produce. They do offer a large range of other ingredients, oils etc, but even here I’ve been unable to find many items.

So if you’re wanting to get creative in the kitchen, check them all out for yourself.

And here’s a photo of us acting like teenagers taking a selfie in front the fab dispensers that I’d love to have at home… a bit excessive maybe…

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Ladies wot Lunch!

Absolutely delicious… if you’ve not been, check out Les Artistes in Limoges. The photos in the link don’t really do it justice, but the food and service are fantastic… and there are a few veggie options!

That’s all for this week. I’d love to hear your feedback, especially if you know of any bio shops in any location in France, as I’d like to build a resource for people in all parts of France. Online store recommendations are welcomed too.

Thanks for reading, have a good week!