Expat Life / France

10 Must-Have Kitchen Items when Living in France

Les ustensiles de cuisine et l’aménagement de la maison doivent être pareils entre les États-Unis et la France, non ? En fait, en tant qu’américaine, j’ai eu besoin d’acheter beaucoup des nouvelles choses en m’installant dans ma nouvelle maison grenobloise !

Home necessities should be the same between the US and France, right? Actually, re-locating to France as an American meant that I had to purchase certain kitchen items and general home goods that I did not own while living in New York! 


Ma première préoccupation a été de faire du café pour moi et mes invités français. Ensuite, j’ai dû apprendre à suivre les recettes françaises sur Marmiton (mesurer le sucre en grammes et non en cups?! Et que sont cl et ml ?). Où mettre les bouteilles de vin qu’on nous offrait, ainsi que les bouteilles d’apéritifs que j’ai acheté pour acceuillir nos invités? Comment supporter les étés grenoblois brûlants sans clim? Voici quelques-uns de mes premiers (et plus pratiques) articles de maison que j’ai acheté en arrivant en France ! [Mini-explication en français dans la légende sous les photos]

My first concern was making coffee for both myself and my French guests, shortly followed by following French recipes on Marmiton (measuring sugar in grams, not cups?! And what the heck is ml and cl?). Where would I put all of the wine bottles friends were giving me as well as the bottles of aperitif liqueurs I’ve acquired in order to properly welcome my French guests? How do you cope sans AC during the scorching summers in Grenoble? See below some of my first (and most useful) purchased home goods since moving to France!


Combiné espresso cafetière. Café americain et français !

The first thing I bought was this De’Longhi combined filtered coffee + espresso machine from Carrefour! American coffee for me, espresso for my European guests — et voilà ! 


Tasses à café espresso, bien sûr !

Now that I had an espresso machine, I needed espresso cups of course! French stores have a wide variety of them; from classic to modern. The first two in the photo are from Alinéa, the last one is from Habitat.


Les tasses (cup) à liquides avec “ml” conversion également.

“Bilingual” measuring cups. I say bilingual because these American-style measuring cups are also in milliliters, which comes in handy when following French recipes. (Tip: for cl you divide ml by ten. 10 cl = 100 ml)


Une balance de cuisine, car en Europe on mesure le sucre (etc.) au poids !

This looks like a typical kitchen tool but I actually had no idea what to do with it when my boyfriend took it out of storage for us to use. Little did I know I would be using it all the time to follow Europe recipes which are often measured by weight (grams)! I absolutely could not bake without this guy! 


Rangement confiture….”Trop de confiture mamie !”

#5 (we’re halfway!): Jar storage for your growing jam collection! I’m not kidding. When you have French in-laws, you may very well receive numerous jars of delicious, homemade confiture each year. I can’t believe how much jam we have acquired, so I’ve had to figure out where and how to store them properly! 


Un blender pour survivre au temps chaud sans clim !

This may not seem particularly French, but let me explain. If you’re living in France you probably don’t have AC. This can be very intense (and even dangerous). Cool smoothies have made life so much more livable during Grenoble’s hot summers. I literally used this blender (purchased at Darty) twice a day during the heatwave this past July, often making my Banana Berry Smoothie and my Ginger Lemonade. A blender is also handy for making yummy French potages in winter.


Rangement bouteilles, car en France on offre beaucoup de vin ! (Ikea)

A place to store the booze! Whether you drink or not, if you like to entertain, you will end up with an insane quantity of wine bottles. Inviting 5 people over for dinner? Well, you will probably acquire 5 wine bottles. Also, I ended up purchasing various apéritif and digestif liqueurs, as it’s a must in France while hosting. From Pastis, Porto, flavored wines (orange, nut, prune..) to Chartreuse, Pear liqueur and Get27 — you may need a mighty deep shelf to store all of these bottles. Above: from Ikea 


Une corbeille à pain pour les repas français ! (Maisons du monde)

A bread basket! Did you really think that bread would not be mentioned here in some form? When you have older French people over for dinner (or any age, really), they may very well expect sliced baguette with their meal (it doesn’t matter what sort of dinner it is). This was the case for my in-laws, so I skipped over to Maisons du monde to get one of their bread baskets (above), and, as I thought, it was certainly not lonely while sitting on the dinner table! The idea is not too foreign for me though: In my Italian-American household growing up, we often had fresh-out-of-the-oven, buttery garlic bread with our meals. Yum!


Ventilateur/s pour l’été en France, tout simplement !

This is not kitchen or food-related, but I had to include this one in here. Once again, you will probably not have air conditioning in France, so you will need a fan. Maybe even two or three of them! If you’re rolling your eyes, just wait for the summer to come (especially if you’re moving to Grenoble). Nope, I did not own a fan in NYC. Everyone has AC, period! Image: Ventilateur Watton from Habitat


Un panier pour les marchés.

#10: A fruit basket! I wanted to end on a happy, fruity note: France’s farmers’ markets are absolutely stunning! If you live here, you know what I’m talking about! You will need a decent bag or basket of some sort to carry all of that gorgeous, fresh produce. Also, you may want to bring it to the grocery store as well, as plastic bags are not always provided (and if they are, you usually have to pay for them — in any case they’re very weak). 

Et vous ? Êtes-vous un expatrié en France ? Qu’est-ce que vous avez acheté quand vous avez déménagé ?

Over to you! Are you an expat in France? What items did you purchase during your transition?

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Photo credit: Hindrik S / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA / Photo credit: blieusong / Foter / CC BY-SA


  • Laëtitia- French Fries and Apple Pie
    August 23, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Super article Dana, j’ai beaucoup aimé et j’ai trouvé ca super bien pensé! Des items qui faisaient partie de mon quotidien pour la plupart (sauf la machine a expresso) mais je ne me rendais pas compte qu’ils etaient plutot francais 🙂 bisous

    • Grenobloise
      August 23, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Salut Laëtitia, je suis ravie que ce post t’ai plu ! J’ai créé cet article spontanément hier — c’est un de mes 1ers post de “Expat Life” — donc j’apprécie le feedback ! Oui, en fait, ces items sont assez simples (mais je ne les utilisais pas aux US) – c’est pour ça que j’ai fait cet article. Le combiné espresso cafetière a été notre 1er achat avec les tasses (cup) à liquides avec “ml” conversion. Vous n’avez pas une machine à espresso ? Notre famille et nos amis ici en ont tous un (enfin presque) !

  • Tei Laine
    August 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    We’ve not got us many new kitchen items here in France; the Dutch oven may be the only one to fully utilize the oven which was not possible in Singapore, where we previously lived (we bought a fan in Singapore even if we had AC). But there are two items we totally fell in love with when living in the US. The first is a blender — we got our first one from an American-Japanese couple who moved out of country. It broke down, and we bought a new cheap one (perhaps in Target), it broke down. Then we bought a really good one, which has served us for ten years. The second item is a French coffee press (which the French probably won’t know by that name). We were staying in a nice Bed & Breakfast place in Columbus (Ind.) where they served breakfast coffee in the press. Instant love, the coffee was so good! Now we want to buy a veggie spiralizer, but have not had much luck in finding one here.

    • Grenobloise
      August 23, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Hello Tei! Thanks for your comment. I had thought about getting a Dutch oven for a while, as they are used so often in French cuisine, but I never ended up purchasing one. I think, in the end, I would prefer a good ‘ol American crock-pot (perhaps due to my childhood memories eating my mother’s homemade beef stroganoff!). I have not looked into buying a crock-pot though – I don’t know where we would store it! I would probably get one if I had a family.

      Yes, Singapore sounds like a place where you would need a fan AND AC! I’ve yet to experience that sort of weather. I never ended up getting a blender in the US because where I lived had smoothie cafés and juice trucks everywhere. Since my life was very on-the-go (I was never home – typical in NYC) there was not much of a need. Now I could not imagine living without a blender!

      We used to order French pressed coffee at our local café in Manhattan from time-to-time. I never really got into it — I really like American coffee and espresso. That said, I think my bf owns a French Press! That would be a great item to include in this post if I actually used it — although it’s confusing because I never see French pressed coffee being used here. It makes me think more of NYC than France.

      I actually purchased a veggie spiralizer off of Amazon a couple months ago! You will not find one here (I asked everywhere) which is why I ordered it online. Here’s a link to the one I got:

  • Mickey
    August 23, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    You’re so right to include the fan – when I’m in the kitchen in the hot Grenoble summer, I have one directed right on me (to the horror of my French guests, who are certain I will become malade, of too much air I guess).

    Some other French culinary necessities I’ve acquired: a nice big cheese board and a cheese knife for the obligatory after-meal-pre-dessert cheese course. Tiny cookie sheets for the tiny French oven. An oven thermometer that registers in both C and F (MUCH easier than converting “pre-heat the oven to” temperatures from American recipes!) Ditto on the instant-read thermometer – I have one that can switch between the two scales.

    While it may not be a necessity – I’ve been eyeing a kitchen blowtorch for making the caramelized top on crème brûlée. It’s a little hard to justify as I never make crème brûlée. But…I mean, its a BLOWTORCH. For the KITCHEN.

    • Grenobloise
      August 23, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comment! Indeed, the fan is quite a simple thing (as well as storage for jam and booze) but it is really something I had to quickly equip myself with here.

      Im glad that you mentioned cheese! I thought about adding a cheese-related thing (like a cheese knife or board) while creating this post, but I actually don’t buy much cheese nor own anything solely used for French cheese and thus wanted to remain authentic in my article. That’s why I’m loving these sorts of comments! I did order a micro plane online, but it’s for my home Italian-American cooking (shredding parm mostly!) – not French cuisine. I actually skipped the cheese platter part when my in-laws were over (I did not want to be stuck with all that cheese and I’d hate to waste it); you are much more dedicated than me! Ditto regarding the blow torch for crème brûlée. (I have had that idea in my head as well, although I don’t make crème brûlée either! It’s just so cool! )

      I’m really impressed with all of your gadgets! That’s right; temperature conversions are very much needed when using the oven here. I use the Convert widget on my Mac dashboard to convert temperatures (and also have the weather widget in both C and F for Grenoble). And I didn’t even know they sold cookie sheets here – I never see them.

      I have a feeling that whoever eats at your place is in for a treat!

  • Elie
    May 9, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Holà. Ah, ça m’étonne ! Je ne pensais pas qu’il y aurait une quelconque différence. Néanmoins, oui, tu as parfaitement compris ce dont il faut disposer lorsque l’on habite à Grenoble 🙂


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