I have never really enjoyed shopping for clothes, bags or shoes—I buy brands I like when they fit and when I find a good deal, and France is rarely the best place for that (everything is expensive!). However, I love going to the supermarket because I discover or rediscover local products. I can spend a good thirty minutes checking out various aisles just for the sake of it. It’s a cultural experience I enjoy no matter where we travel!
So today, here are 4 classic cookies you can probably find in any French food cupboard. Many of them are manufactured by LU (Lefèvre Utile), a company founded in 1846, formerly part of Danone and now part of Mondelēz International. Yet, LU and its flagship products remain emblematic of the city of Nantes and are distributed in the entire Western Europe.
In my family, we call “Prince” biscuits “chocos”—I don’t know if this is just us or if other French families use this nickname as well. Prince are the equivalent of the American Oreo, a round sandwich cookie with a chocolate (or vanilla, hazelnut, etc.) filling. A smaller version exists for kids, as the original is about the size of a palm. Many brands have their version of the Prince, including Biscuit BN who shows a smiley face on the cookie.
Galettes Saint Michel
These small cookies used to be made in the village where I spent my holidays as a kid. The local business started to boom after WW1, when Brittany became a summer destination, and they now they are famous in the entire country and even abroad (I can find them in Canada!). The small galettes are imprinted with the family name, along with an image of the archangel defeating the devil, and their taste is pretty unique as they are made with sea-salted butter (Brittany and Normandy are obsessed with beurre salé, salted butter, the rest of the country tend to favour beurre doux).
The name means « small buttery cookie » (how many times did I type ‘butter’ here?) and it’s often the first treat French kids ever taste. One of the first mass manufactured cookies made by LU, they have a specific number of teeth on each side (14 by 10) and little corners called “ears’, and the cookies are made so that eight stacked measure the width of one cookie. There are different ways to eat them—you can dip a Petit beurre in your cup of coffee (or chocolate milk) or bite the “ear”.
The name means « little schoolboy » and indeed, Bouisset’s little schoolboy (a French arrist who designed the original ad) is imprinted on the chocolate, reinforcing the idea that it is an after-school snack market to kids. But who doesn’t like a buttery cookie topped with milk chocolate? The original version uses milk chocolate but you can now find dark chocolate and white chocolate versions of the Petit écolier.
Or you can always head to the bakery for fancier treats…