We Had To Come to France . . .

. . . to finally shop at an Aldi market.

For readers living in the eastern or midwestern United States, or in Europe, Aldi stores are nothing out of the ordinary. But for those of us who live or have lived on the west coast, or in Hawai’i, Aldi products and prices are unknowns, and have taken on almost mythical properties.

A few of our Aldi finds.

I’ve been reading about other bloggers’ Aldi shopping for several years (enviously at times), so while we are here in Europe, Brett and I were determined to check one out and see what all the fuss was about.

We found the nearest Aldi to us was just a 20-minute tram ride away, at the outer western rim of Strasbourg. The ride was pleasant, and we noticed that the closer we got to our destination the more modern the buildings became, along with a definite feeling of being out in the suburbs. We also passed the city’s largest hospital on the way, bigger than any hospital I’ve ever seen anywhere. The mix of passengers on the tram changed as well – the further out the more young families boarded the tram.

The aisles were at least twice as long as a usual supermarket aisle.

Aldi was right across the street from the tram stop. We had no idea what to expect when we walked in, but the store was absolutely massive, at least in comparison to stores we’ve been in recently and even back on Kaua’i. We grabbed a shopping basket and set out to see what was in stock and what things cost, and possibly pick up a bargain or two. I was expecting pallets, or a more warehouse feel to the store, but was pleasantly surprised by the organized shelves with everything in boxes.

Trader Joe’s products could be found throughout the store. They are obviously packaged for the French market even though there are no Trader Joe’s in Europe.

I was also surprised by the number of name-brand products that I saw. I’m guessing most of the products were Aldi brands, but it was hard to sort out which were which. We bought some Ritter-Sport mini chocolate bars (perfect for when we’re on the road) but also saw brands like Nutella and several Trader Joe’s products around the store. The cheese section was positively magnificent, and the varieties available were also individually branded. Some were the same brands we’ve seen in standard markets (but were lower priced at Aldi).

Our four packages of cheese cost just 7.82€ ($9.09). Incroyable!

Actually, the selection available throughout the store was quite impressive. The produce section was pretty nice as well, although I have to say the pineapples were pathetic. I didn’t notice anything organic, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Of all the things we saw we could only come up with two things we would not buy there: wine and bread. Their low prices didn’t wow us after what we’ve been able to find at local boulangeries or supermarkets.

The baguettes were very inexpensive, but we had no idea how old they might be.

Besides the Ritter-Sport bars we also bought four different cheeses, some chocolate mousse (delicious!), a small bag of pasta, a bottle of shampoo, and a package of bacon, potato and cheese crepes to have for breakfast one morning. The total cost for everything? Just 16.03€ ($18.61).

We’re definitely going back before we leave Strasbourg. For those of you who regularly shop at Aldi, how does this compare with your experience? Are the prices similar? Does the store layout look similar?

18 thoughts on “We Had To Come to France . . .

    • Laura says:

      Not the same parent company – I think Trader Joe’s and Aldi are separate but owned by members of the same family. They’re not in competition but serve different niches. Anyway, it was strange to see TJs stuff there, in French packaging no less.

      I kept hoping against hope that an Aldi would come to Portland while we were there. It would have been immensely popular.

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    • Laura says:

      Thank you – that’s what I wanted to know, if it was different or similar to other Aldi stores. The prices were pretty amazing, especially the cheese.

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  1. Snoskred says:

    In Australia the Aldi wines are some of the best you can buy for their prices.. 🙂 at least that is what friends who do drink wine tend to say. They win a lot of wine awards.

    Me personally I use their wine for cooking and find it to be excellent and very well priced but I am not a wine drinker, though I did enjoy their sparkling Rose enough to have a second glass when a friend bought a sneaky bottle along on our Take That concert trip. To get me to have a second glass, it has to be good. 🙂

    There is a TV show in the UK called eat well for less where they take groups of people and blind taste test things that people like to eat – name brands vs the instore brands. Aldi is usually up in the top three and that has in general been my experience – that their foods taste just as good or better than branded foods from other places.

    In some cases the food is made by the same company and arrives in the same packaging – as we found with the lactose free yoghurt we buy for our chickens.

    I am glad you got to visit an Aldi at long last. 🙂 They do have a lot of great stuff for travel and snacking – I like their nut packages and they make a spectacular popcorn, too.

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    • Laura says:

      There were many products there we would have bought if we had been shopping for more than just the two of us.

      We’ve been told that even the cheapest bottle of wine here will be good, so we would have probably found something good there if we knew more about wine. I can only drink white wine, and am not familiar with some of the types, so that held me up as well there at Aldi. But wines out in neighborhood stores isn’t that much more.

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  2. Practical Parsimony says:

    Our Aldi has aisles about a quarter of the length of that aisle. I feel claustrophobic in our store. I bought goat cheese with blueberries that was very cheap compared to other stores. Many times, the produce looks trampled. There are no name brands at our Aldi. I do not like Aldi at all. I live in a town of 16K and a county of 60K, so maybe that is why ours is so small.

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    • Laura says:

      At least there’s an Aldi available! We were quite surprised by the size compared to all the other food stores we’ve visited here – Aldi seemed massive (but then so did that hospital – it was HUGE!). The trip out there was easy though, so we’ll probably go again because the prices for cheese were amazing, and we also liked the crepes and the chocolate mousse. We’d have to be here for longer than we are going to be to figure out which products are Aldi brands versus which are not.

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  3. Ashling Hayes says:

    You shold try and find a Lidl too, they are another german discount supermarket though i think they will be similar to your ALDI in Strasbourg.

    The ALDI’s in France are run by ALDI Nord who also own Trader Joe’s. ALDI in the US and where i’m from (Ireland) are run by ALDI Sud. Forbes has a good article about it as its pretty confusing https://www.forbes.com/consent/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2012/05/17/aldis-trader-joes-is-a-winner/

    Going by what you have described your ALDI looks more like our Lidl (branded products etc) Aldi here doesn’t stock any branded products except as a special buy. Also Lidl here stocks fresh breads like baguettes which are made in store but our Aldi doesn’t stock these. They also have a Deluxe range called Specially Selected which includes many country specific products and are very good.

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    • Laura says:

      Than you! This explains a lot, especially the number of Trader Joe’s products we saw. That was confusing!

      I have heard of Lidl, and that they will be arriving in the U.S. soon. The store you described sounds very similar to the Aldi we visited here. We’re going to ride the tram over to Germany later this week – maybe we’ll find a Lidl there we can check out.

      I hope Aldi makes it to the western U.S one of these days!

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      • JJ says:

        I guess I’m lucky because I have Trader Joe’s and Aldi near me and they are building a Lidl as I write this! I go to TJ all the time, but I’ve only been to Aldi infrequently. After I read your post, I decided to go there just to check it out because I hadn’t been there in ages. It looked a lot like the photos you posted. I didn’t recognize most of the brands and don’t really understand the fuss about that store, to be honest (other than the low prices). I’m looking forward to shopping in Lidl. Another European market opened near me recently that had a lot of the same items I bought when I was in Europe this summer. If I had known that, I could have lightened my suitcase on the way back!

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  4. Tamara R / My Retirement Project says:

    We have an Aldi in OC now, in Laguna Hills, and I buy several weekly staples there instead of Trader Joes due to the prices at Aldi being about 33% lower. There are several more locations sprinkled throughout the state (California) so they are definitely on the move now here along the West Coast!

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    • Laura says:

      Yeah Aldi! This is good to hear, that they are opening stores on the West Coast. They will never happen in Hawai’i, but maybe they’ll eventually make it up to Oregon and Washington (Oregon got the first out-of-state In ‘n’ Out, in Roseburg, so anything is possible).

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  5. Kate says:

    I lived in Germany for a while, and Lidl and Aldi were both everywhere (along with a few other discount grocers, including Penny and Netto, in case you run into them on future travels). I loved them. And miss them dearly now that I’m living back in the States. They have a much more limited selection (eight or so yogurt types, for example, instead of 4672 that you might find in a typical US supermarket) but their products are really good and incredibly well-priced.

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    • Laura says:

      Our nephew just finished a three-year stay in Germany and he recommended we check out either Rewe or Edeka stores. I think though that where we shop in Germany will be wherever is closest to where our tram stop is! So. that might end up being Aldi again, or Lidl or one of the two stores above. I’m anxious to see the prices in Germany. Everything in Switzerland seemed so expensive, but we were told Germany is very cheap. I think Strasbourg is quite affordable too – maybe because it’s so close to Germany?

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  6. Rowena says:

    I go to Aldì for one thing only…the thin wafer cookies with honey sandwiched in between. Low prices on most everything compared to our usual go-to supermarket (Esselunga). The layout is just as you described in your experience!

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    • Laura says:

      Those cookies sound so good! We will look for them on our next Aldi trip. Brett especially loves anything with honey, so they should be right up his alley.

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