Thursday, January 19, 2012

Grocery Store Wars--Carrefour v. E.Leclerc

There are a few big grocery store chains here in France just like at home. Some are regional and some national and they all want you to spend your euro in their store. One of the ways they do this is by having a fidelity card that pays you back in % of what you spend. Do we have these in the States? See, I really just can't remember.

One of the best cards in my opinion is through  E.Leclerc. Does that name trigger something in your English speaking mind? What do you think of?
company logo

Would you see a big orange and blue sign saying, 'E.Leclerc' and think giant grocery store that is the only place to find yellow cheddar cheese in the Montpellier area? Or do you, like me, think, 'hmmm, sounds like the electric company.'?

It actually means lightning, kachow!, so you wouldn't be (or I wasn't) far off if that's what you thought. See, you're super smart and wordsy.

Back to groceries and the excitement that's been brewing around my little town. (Again, this may just be me.)

The E.Leclerc company of great fidelity card value struck out last year and installed a drive through grocery shopping experience just up the hill.
There's the big store you can go to and wander around looking at all the different types of goat cheese, pâté and white bean products, tout à fait.

But this is truly, spectacular. And even more than a little bit American.

What they've done is create an online shop, 'sure, whatever, everybody does that' is what you're thinking.
BUT. Does everybody have a warehouse with groovy bank looking drive through lanes, automated kiosks where you swipe your loyalty card and Pierre or Guillame who appear with a cart full of all you've ordered online?
They will then politely ask how many plastic bags you're returning in exchange for the ones that all your stuff is in, blip that on their electronic device and give you a recycling discount back onto your handy loyalty card. You'll get a look at your eggs to make sure they aren't cracked, say a little something in French like, "I'll put my eggs in the front with me." to which you get a smile and a 'Oooo, your accent is cute.' and then watch as all your bottled water, milk, canned cassoulet and lentils, toilet paper, laundry detergent and who'm I kidding?, boxed wine, get stashed in the trunk.

Are you jealous? Can you believe it? Do you have this in the Motherland?

The funny thing is they planted this grocery store of the future just next to the Carrefour of the olden days and I used to sit there letting flirty Guillame do all the work and glance over and shaking my head in despair for those poor suckers who were having to park, get out, do the whole euro coin for a trolley thing and then schlump around the aisles with screaming (well, they're French so they're not really screaming) toddlers in tow. Poor, poor shoppers of the past.

company logo

And then today. I saw it. Carrefour has erected their very own, very BIG awning bank drive through stylee grocery shopping experience. Right. Next. Door.
Carrefour has found some berries and they're flaunting it, laughing in the face of Msr Lightning and saying, 'Oui Msr, deux peuvent jouer à  ce jeu.'


  1. Even though it means lightning, I still can't figure out why E.Leclerc makes us think it's and electric company... but it does! We all think so. Maybe because the name kind of looks like it says electric, in a weird way.
    It doesn't matter because I shop at the Hebrew anyway x

  2. Bonjour Aidan. Well, dear Edouard Leclerc has gone a long way. This sounds like a fabulous way to shop, especially if you are a mom with a couple of young kids in tow. I might get frustrated, though, as I enjoy walking the gigantic aisles now and then, and looking at all their wares (I still do during my annual visits to France.) I do not know of a similar service here in the Seattle area, but they do have a couple of companies that deliver to your front door. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  3. Our E.Leclerc doesn't have one of these, yet, but the Auchan market by my work does. The funny thing is that it's never crowded. Maybe where I live the French don't really get it because when I go into the store they are all there with me and so are their screaming toddlers! I haven't tried it yet but I might. Last time I was in the states, I hadn't seen anything like it so maybe France might be ahead of the times this time!

  4. Sara, I'll do Hebrew too as you know but there's something so perfect about hiding your wine and toilet paper in the trunk.

  5. Veronique,
    I love that you read and comment because you give me the inside info on all things French. I didn't know the E. stood for a man named Edouard! Heck I didn't think it was a person at all with the lightning and electricity flying all around in my brain.
    Thank you French Girl!

    I think France is ahead on this one. While its great to have the delivery I did that in Ireland and prefer the drive through because it's on my time not within a window. Plus I think the American girl in me misses a good old fashioned drive through.


  6. You're welcome Aidan. Don't know if you read in French, but look this up. Yes, there is a person (a whole family actually) behind the Leclerc Logo.

  7. I also thought it was an electrical appliance store until one of the mums at school told me otherwise. Must be the Elec at the start of the name.
    I have one up on Edouard and Carrefour - I order with Auchan and they bring the stuff to my house, and the nice man carries the boxes right into my kitchen. No need to go anywhere. Now that's service!

  8. For over 20 years of holidays and now living here I have never thought of the shop as anything other than Eddy's. Your new shopping methods are very swish, we still have to push and load, unload, reload ,load the car, and finally, unload again at home (upstairs). I think of it as my version of weight training. We are having a new store opening locally later this month. We all look forward to maybe a suprise or two of a modern shopping experience!

  9. lesley,
    I think i'll start calling it Eddy's too. i like it.
    i have the upstairs thing to contend after emptying the groceries from the car. but usually i make p-daddy do all that for me. i feel spoiled now.
    i hope you get your store of the future soon and that you enjoy it!
    thanks for commenting.

  10. I thought I'd give Leclerc drive in a go the other week so went online, got frustrated that they didn't have much choice or some of the stuff I wanted, but made a list.

    Got to the check-out bit and discovered I'd lost my carte bleu. Oops. Not only was it a waste of time studying the whole online shop but it also had me worrying about what I'd done with the card. Oh well, I suppose it meant that I now knew my card was lost!

    Not sure I'll be going back, but I may try the Carrouf one as I normally do all my shopping there anyway.

  11. Oh, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah,
    You have to stick with it. There are some things that you can't find but I have to do a few shops at different places anyway. And the best thing is they keep your basket full with things you normally buy so you just have to go in, adjust a bit and bob's your uncle!

  12. Um, are you confusing leclerc (the clerk) with l'éclair (lightening)? I'm not sure I got the reference! That said, it seems that E. Leclerc is always at the forefront. He was basically the inventor of the "superstore" grocery store experience and I heard he even wanted to sell cars, but the government wouldn't let him. I don't know about fidelity cards in the States, but I did have them in Canada. For every dollar spent I got a point and after 2000 points, I got $20 off my grocery bill. Pretty sweet! I have fidelity cards here, but it seems like I have to wait longer to accumulate enough points to do anything with them. I live in a region run by Auchan, since their national distribution centre is here, and my closest grocery store is the most expensive Auchan in all of France! The nearest Leclerc is 25 km away. 50 km roundtrip for groceries - hmmm...

  13. Not to bore for England.... but we didn't realize that E. le C stores are franchises with the name providing the purchasing power etc. I don't think this is the same as Auchan, Carrefour etc. Perhaps someone can put me right on this.

  14. Marianne, you got me! These are the mistakes I make all the time in my new language! Thanks for clearing That up. I just went with my ear bc of Buzz and there ya go.

    It is a big franchise like the rest. Maybe it's regional and not quite as big. Anyone know?

    Thanks for the comments,

    1. No worries! I make similar mistakes all the time, most notably when I had to pass my driving test in French. The code de la route was filled with words I didn't know and then on the actual driving test, the lady asked me to use the "lave glace" and I promptly turned on the windshield wipers instead of the windshield wiper fluid. I think I just translated "wash window" in my head and forgot about the liquid part of it!

      I enjoy reading your posts!

  15. I think it will be a long LONG time before drive through shopping gets to Creuse. What a brilliant idea. I especially love the sound of flirty Guillaume ;-)

  16. Marianne,
    who knows how many things i've messed up this way! and i am absolutely terrified of the driving test. at least you've gotten it behind you! i just hope to not sound like a complete moron someday. but.....sometimes it happens in english too. c'est la vie!!

    thank you for reading and commenting. i love it!


  17. Steph,
    you never can go to their website to see where the new ones will be. and flirty guillame always makes my 40 year old day.


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