We’re lucky enough to be within striking distance of the border and for a few years, given the huge price differences between France and Spain, with most things being a lot cheaper in Spain, I’d got into the habit of doing a big monthly shop in the nearest Spanish hyper market. I’ve got French friends who go to Spain to get dental work done - apparently if you need anything aesthetic doing then this makes financial sense and I’ve also noticed that beauty salon prices for things like permanent hair removal and laser facial treatments are much, much lower too.
Yesterday I went shopping with a friend for the day and not having been for a while, was utterly astounded by just how much cheaper a lot of stuff is.
There’s a massive ‘one euro’ section as you walk in and having saved huge amounts of money here on vast bottles of shampoo and conditioner, multi packs of tinned tuna, notebooks, cereal and bags of cakes for Max and his never ending need for snackage, I obviously then blew all my savings in the wine section. Even allowing for having restocked the drinks cabinet, buying shorts, socks, toiletries and purchasing a six month supply of olive oil, I still spent a very reasonable amount of money for the quantity of stuff I returned with. There are big savings to be made on everyday items; soy milk is 0.88 centimes as opposed to a minimum of 1.22 in our local Leclerc, 1.5L of (good quality) cleaning product was 0.75 centimes and baby shampoo was 0.77 centimes. The other big plus is the availability of products which aren’t widely available in France such as Fairy Liquid, Oil of Ulay and talc, all of which are available at normal rather than ‘expat’ prices.
Your till receipt gives you a discount on fuel at the petrol station (which is already cheaper than in France) and as the car wash is also about half price, it’s worth arriving with a grubby vehicle and an empty tank! There’s a great selection of bars and restaurants within the centre so you can fortify yourself with tapas before and after shopping.
If you live too far away to make a regular shopping trip a viable option, I strongly recommend making a long list and calculating if you can save enough to pay for a long weekend in San Sebastián on the back of your shopping trip. You might well be surprised!