01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The ‘Booze Cruise’

Hi all,

Next month my wife and I are going over to France for a holiday and are thinking of taking advantage of the generous personal allowances on alcohol from the EU. I will be driving so space isn’t an issue but I am wondering whether there are any recommended wines that I could stock up on at a decent price, and even better if there are any suggested supermarkets to go to. We’re not interested in cheap plonk but would like to experiment with some different bottles (getting a few of each) to trial when we’re home. I know there are ‘booze superstores’ and I’m guessing we would be avoiding them. If there are some very cheap good buys I’d obviously be up for those but I’m thinking averaging GBP10-15 a bottle.

I’m familiar with the limits and also ensuring that the limit is clearly identified at a personal level (we will each pay and mark our ‘own’) as I hear this has been a problem with overly zealous border control.

We’ll be going as far as Paris so it doesn’t need to be the Calais area.

1 Like

Not sure whether this will work with your dates/locations but all the major French supermarkets run Foire aux Vins in late Sept/early Oct . Dates vary depending on location and supermarket. Prospectuses (i?) Are usually available on line and generally have wider choice than normal stock and some good bargains. We used to visit them regularly and reckoned we’d save the cost of crossing. Mind you that’s when we were unrestricted on amount we could bring back


I’ve only been there once myself but there is a good selection at Boursot in Ardres.

There’s also a very large shop in Cite Europe.

1 Like

I haven’t bought in France for a while, but it used to be a good idea to avoid the Calais area as the supermarkets seemed to be stocking not brilliant booze with an eye to the English market. I don’t know if that’s still the case though. Supermarkets across the border in Belgium seemed to be doing better wines at better prices.
Of the French supermarkets, I’ve found LeClerc to be among the best. Beware of Paris prices - I’ve seen decent wines that were more expensive in Paris supermarkets than in England!


Probably worth mentioning that you can also have wine delivered there from all over Europe for you to collect at your convenience - very useful if you don’t want the hassle / taxes shipping direct from your favourite European wineries. Might be too late to organise for this occasion though.


If you are nearby I recommend Leclerc at St Maixent l’Ecole which has a good cave section, probably because of the military school for sous officers in the town.

Agree that E Leclerc is one of the best choices, if supermarkets are where you’ll be stocking up (also usually guarantees a childish chuckle in our car due to 'Allo 'Allo associations)

The anticipation of a ‘kid in a sweetie shop’ experience of visiting a French supermarket for wine is often an anti-climax though, as the quality is often pretty iffy. At least Leclerc sometimes has a more select selection in a temperature-controlled room.

I’ve sometimes found big Intermarches a happy hunting ground for more interesting wines. I also used to enjoy their own label ‘expert club’ wines when I was discovering different French regions a decade or so ago at bargain prices (far better than Carrefour or Auchan-branded wines) but I don’t think they do those anymore.

I think French supermarkets are less standardised than their UK equivalents - some are excellent but another branch of the same chain nearby might be rubbish. There’s also a lot more regional variation on wine stock which is nice - maybe less so around Pas de Calais though!

Agree with @Bran-gwaun that the Foires aux Vins are when the French supermarkets are really worth a visit (especially at the start before the good wines get snapped up) but school holidays mean we’ve missed these for a good few years now.


I agree with what’s been mentioned up the thread, Leclerc can often have some real hidden gems and the really big supermarché … however it can be hit and Miss with some terrible selections in some stores so it’s worth trying a few different supermarkets locally to you .
I’ve used this store a few weeks back and whilst there is some non descript cheapy stuff they also have a fine wine section which was really great .


You don’t say where you are going but have you checked out vineyards in the area? Cant beat a tour, tasting and buying direct.

And I thought it was our close proximity!!

Unlimited is generous. The post-Brexit limits are not.


I was thinking the same and hoping it wasn’t just me :grimacing:


Between the two of us, four cases (×12) of wine, 2 cases of fizz, a box or two of groceries and, ahem, luggage, wouldn’t leave space for much more.

1 Like

And in some ways it is even less generous than before they removed the limits within the EU: it used to be possible to add the ‘sparkling and fortified’ allowance to the still wine allowance for those of us who don’t touch the sparkling stuff.

1 Like

It wasn’t. Generous is a strange choice of words after such a reduction (ISTR we could bring back 120 bottles previously without let or hindrance). Unless it was sarcasm?


1 Like

We could bring back any amount as long as there was reasonable belief for personal consumption / no suspicion of intent to re-sale. Think there was far more than that in the back of the car for my wedding booze cruise.


I do believe the guideline was set at 90 litres (in practice 120 bottles) after a bit too much loading of white vans for ‘weddings’ though :smiley:


Ah, fair enough I suppose

Current law is 18 L of still wine = 24 bottles.

Another Brexit Bonus.


The Cite Europe wine shop is conveniently on the ground floor and has a rear exit for loading direct to your car.

The wine however, is a pig-in-a-poke. Priced and style similar as Majestic, but much more variable. Ive had some excellent and some atrocious wines from them so wouldn’t go back.

Cavavin shops are worth a try - somewhere between a franchise and an independent. Generally they seem to be run by owners who genuinely know their stuff & don’t stock rubbish.

1 Like