On my Instagram account, @jeparlefranglais, I often share about the sights I see and the food I eat in France. I love it when my friends and fellow users respond. But can you guess what IG stories I’ve gotten the most responses to? The Château de Chenonceau? The Eiffel Tower? The delicious restaurants in Paris? Nope. It’s Costco! I’ve gotten so many questions about what a French Costco looks like and what products they offer. And when I talked to some of my friends back home in San Francisco that I was thinking of writing a blog post about Costco, they responded excitedly, “Yes! Do it!” So here it is…
Locations of Costco in France
The first Costco opened up in a small town south of Paris (Villebon-sur-Yvette) in 2017. Although it’s less than 50 miles away from where we live north of Paris, we have to pass Paris to get there, which means lots of traffic. It’s taken us over 2 hours to get home during rush hour! In December 2021, a second Costco opened in the town of Pontault-Combault. Why they’d open another Costco south of Paris is beyond me. 🙄 The only redeeming factor is that, since this Costco is east of Paris, we can bypass some of the crazy traffic. It takes an hour to an hour fifteen to get there, versus an hour and a half to two hours with the other one.
Membership Has Its Benefits…
With the time and energy that it takes to get to Costco, we resisted getting a membership for 5 years. But finally, we gave in. Our friends convinced us that it was worth the effort. Also, we had significantly decreased our travel due to COVID, so going to Costco felt like a little day trip in itself. Without further ado, I present Costco France…
The first thing that told me that we had left French soil for American was when I pulled into this beautiful parking space:
The parking spaces at this Costco are huge!!!! A double line separating cars?!? 🤯 (Note: The Pontault-Combault Costco’s spaces, while not bad, are not this big.) Normally, when you park in a parking lot in France, the spaces are extremely narrow and it’s usually an acrobatic feat to try to get out of the car. But here, I was able to completely open my door without worrying about dinging the neighboring car. Such luxury! (I think the fact that the big parking spaces are one of my favorite things about Costco is telling me that I might have lived here a little too long. 😬 )
Walking into the Costco in Villebon-sur-Yvette feels exactly like the Costco in San Francisco. There is a very similar layout. Except that the workers upon entry greet you with a “Bonjour”. The Costco in Pontault-Combault had a very different layout, and I’m not sure if I really like it. There’s a lot of empty, unused space, and it has an awkward layout. In one French newspaper article, the president of Costco France, stated that they need to get a permit to operate in the rest of the space. 🤷🏻♀️ They hope they can get this approved soon.
A Taste of America in France
This is our main reason for coming here. It’s great to find products that are either hard to find in France or much more expensive. For example, to get a bottle of maple syrup in France, you usually have to pay €4-5 for a tiny little bottle. In Costco, you can get a bottle 5 times the size for €11. Here are some other products we’ve seen (and bought!) that remind us of home:
They also have products that are supposed to be “American”, but I’ve never seen these in the US…
French Products in Costco
Although our main purpose in going to Costco is to stock up on the American products we miss from the US, it’s also fun to see French products there in bulk.
And of course since this is France, Costco has to have a lot of cheese, and in massive quantities.
What goes with cheese? Wine, of course!
Costco Food Court
Just as it is in the US, the Costco Food Court is a fun experience.
You better believe that the first thing I got on my first Costco trip was their famous Costco hot dog. The hot dog was just as good as I remembered, but I was disappointed that the only thing that came with it (beside the drink, of course) was a little sad packet of ketchup. No mustard, no relish. Also, although the soft drinks are self-service like in the US, they aren’t all-you-can-drink. The soft drink machine reads the QR code on your paper cup and will only pour out enough for one serving. From what I’ve heard, for health reasons, it’s actually illegal for a restaurant to allow its customers to drink an unlimited amount of soda.
That was my one and only experience with a Costco hotdog in France, because I discovered…
…Fish n Chips. I must say that this is some of the best fish n chips that I’ve had in France. For only €5(!!), you get two large filets of fried fish on a bed of fries, along with tartar sauce and a lemon. In a way, I’m happy that Costco is so far away – thankfully I’m not eating this every week!
So that’s my French Costco experience in a nutshell! Have you ever visited Costco in another country? What were your favorite products? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,
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