Buy at home; buy in France?

Bon Jour all!

As my October “Exploring SW France” trip approaches, I’ll post more often for your advice and counsel on many topics. Today I have a more general question about buying things I’ll need.

Is it generally better to buy things in the US (and pay to have them shipped) or wait until I get to France?

I’ll use an example that just occurred to me. I will need some sort of folding shopping carts to haul produce from the markets, etc. Am I better off buying this from in the US and including it in the shipping container I’m bringing over in 2023? Or should I wait until I land in France to make this and similar purchases?

Besides comparative costs, is availability an issue in France? Shipping or delivery costs in purchasing from .fr websites?

I am just looking for some guidelines or others’ experiences.

Thank you for any/all responses.

I have seen this sort of thing used, occasionally… they are available all over France

available in all sizes/colours and prices…

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Mind you, it’s dodgy, those wheels on cobbled pavements etc…
Might be worth waiting till you’re here and finding what works best for wherever you are…
Basically, we use the trolley provided by the supermarket and unload into the car… at the market we just pack shopping bags and “bravely” carry them back to the car… .and collapse…

Thank you for your honest ‘real world’ experiences described!!

How long is a piece of string and to what level of detail are you going to go in order to decide? You’re using a shopping trolley as an example? I can assure you we have shopping trolleys in France. :grinning:

I’m sure others will have more exact suggestions but generally (I believe) everything is pretty much cheaper in the US than in France. So as a rough guide, say, double the price of everything you are thinking of bringing and put it all into an enormous spreadsheet and by that time you will have lost the will to live. Then calculate the weight / volume and how much the shipping will cost. If the shipping cost is higher than the difference between the US and French prices then wait and buy in France. :grinning:
More seriously - things like technology (laptops / phones etc) are way cheaper in the US - but bear in mind they need to be compatible with French electrics.
Bring anything that has sentimental value and you can’t live without. If you are into them, bring your books, music, (although even that these days you can download) furniture so you can settle in and live from day one. be ruthless with your clothing - you won’t be wearing business suits. You will be astonished how much you are still bringing and will spend ages sorting it all out when you get here - some boxes may never come out of store.
The other thing is to remember through all of the hassle and stress that it is a wonderful new adventure and some bits you’ll get right and some you won’t - doesn’t matter. :grinning:


So true… we’ve boxes of stuff unopened… labelled, so we know what it is… even after all these years… and there are things which just sit in the attics and look accusingly at me… all things I was sure we could NOT live without… huh.

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One aspect of this is how much will it cost you to ship each kilo (if your carrier charges by weight) or cubic metre (if by volume).

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And dont forget that there may be customs charges too


A few thoughts:-

Firstly, France uses the metric system, so US measuring devices are very useful. This afternoon, I was using a 48 inch long, thick aluminum straight edge that I bought in Boston in 1988, and when I lived in S Africa I’d always ask visitors from the UK to bring me 18" plastic rulers.

Likewise for the kitchen, a couple of sets of US measuring cups, as you’re unlikely to find them here. Also consider an electric kitchen scale that has US and metric units.

Good quality American hand tools and garden tools (non-electric) are usually far better than what you’ll find in France and are much, much cheaper.

Clothing? Basic traditional American denim apparel, proper winter boots, heavy woollen overshirts (most here are cheap polyester). Leather jacket(s). If like me, you like real Hawaiian shirts, buy them in the US as buying them online from here incurs shipping costs and import duty.

Hope that helps


How so? (I’m interested - gallons, quarts, miles, inches??)

In hindsight we would have got rid of far more of our possessions before moving. Really not worth the cost of sending them here apart from things with sentimental value and specialist items like maybe laptops. And our french house looks far better with rural french furniture rather than urban UK stuff. Plus we have had good fun re-equipping ourselves. And our lifestyle is so totally different that we do different things here - I have no idea what I would do with a shopping cart! We have adopted the French habit of buying small amounts of fresh produce frequently - usually from a market - and putting them in a bag/basket.

A container is a huge amount of goods!!

Think about the guarantees of any expensive things you buy to bring over. Will it still be valid? Are they brands that can be repaired here?

And really if you are planning to live here will the savings really make a massive difference over 10 or 20 years? For the first few years I used to ask friends to bring my favourite things with them, but no longer bother.


I often use inches when designing or making things, it depends on the situation - for large things, particularly sheet materials, inches are easier to remember than mms and cms as you’re working with much lower numbers, or for example, if you want to divide something into three or multiples thereof.

American recipes use cups not ccs as a measure of volume.

When I moved to SA, which is metric, but where people drive on the LHS, I imported my RHD MB coupe in the shipping container (relocation expenses met by my new university) but the speedo was only in mph, so I was continually mentally converting speeds and distances on long drives (good fun).

Wheel it round the local market every Saturday. :grinning:

I have too many pieces of string to count, Sue PJ! Thank you for your delightful and thoughtful response. I’ll keep it all in mind as I pack - or not - my things.

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Both very good points! Thank you, Jane

Thank you, Dr. MarkH for your thoughts.

Not where I live, they have teams of midget strongmen on roller skates instead.


The LL Bean catalogue may be your friend.

some lovely stuff

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The day I take a shopping trolley round a market is the day I stop going! It means I am officially an old biddy, and am getting in the way of everyone!