Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Geneva

I've been meaning to finish and post this for months. seriously. Because while previously I hadn't really been concerned with groceries, since September I've been working full time and have had to plan shopping very carefully. Where I could easily time my grocery rounds before, now I really have to fit them into a tight schedule. So where do I go then? Keep reading to find out! ;)

Well, if you're new to the country you'll soon discover that the two biggest supermarkets around (wherever you live) are MIGROS and Coop (or Coop and MIGROS =)). And it's the same in Geneva, around the university and around my home as well.

(Now that I've mentioned MIGROS, I'll have to tell you a funny story -- no, actually two. When I was planning the move to Geneva, people kept telling me that I could brush up my French at the Migros language school, or I could even teach there, though wages are not so great. And I thought it was so discriminative! See, I was convinced that the name stood for an abbreviation of immigrants... Turns out it's for mi-gros, meaning that you can buy stuff in medium bulks for a lower price. But I wasn't the only one to make that mistake. When we had some friends over from Hungary and I told them I'd pop over to the Migros for some ingredients because it was cheapest there, the guy actually started telling me off for the use of such a pejorative term -- of course he misunderstood what I had said and thought I was referring to some African-owned local store! LOL! I couldn't stop laughing for a good minute.)

You'll also find that these two names carry over a number of other businesses as well, such as money changers and perfumeries. But, unless you can find a small 'non-stop' store around (in France this means they don't close at lunch time, in Switzerland some are open on Saturday evenings and the like), you'll have to rely on these two for groceries.

Of course, you can take a car/tram/bus and head for one of the bigger stores, located around the city, easily found on the Migros or Coop website. I guess if I had a large family, this is what I'd do, as you can do your shopping on the go, fill up the trunk and then go hiking in the afternoon. Given that your butter doesn't melt in the car. =) And note that you can only do it on Saturday (along with other hundreds of thousands of Swiss), as (virtually) all shops are closed on Sunday.

But as I've been a city dweller all my life, I don't really like buying in bulk or spending all morning in one of these hypermarkets and queuing up for half an hour, so that I can then be hauling huge sacks of food in from the car. No, that's not my way. I like to spend, on average, fifteen minutes twice a week at the store, at a time when it's relatively empty, so I can roam through with my list and be done with it. Around once or twice a month I take my time, browsing for new products and stocking up on stuff like rice and couscous and canned goodies -- but I tend to do this out of the rush ours as the crowd really gives me... a rush. =)

That said, I'm really happy that the Swiss have long Thursdays, which means that although all shops close around 7 p.m. on any other given day, the stay open a bit longer on Thursdays. Migros and Coop are open until 7.30 I think, and Manor until 8.30 or 9. actually, Manor is much like the big Coop stores (CoopCity), with its own grocery section in the basement or first floor.

About the differences. I used to think that Migros was the cheapest and Manor the most expensive of the trio. But then either things started to change or I got more familiar with the Swiss shopping style -- I don't know. Now I would say that -- as regards the price -- Migros and Coop are basically the same. It is true that Migros has more budget brands, which makes the average price lower, but I don't really go for those except when buying stuff for baking, etc. It used to be a well known fact that Migros didn't carry organic food, or not as much as Coop. But that's changing, and I often prefer Migros' range. All in all, I go more often to the Migros nearby, as in case I need fruits and vegetables they're usually better quality and cheaper there. Besides, as I said, they carry a large range of organic products, and I can spot something new every time.

But there's one thing that makes Coop more attractive for many, and it's still a frequent target of mine. The thing is that Migros doesn't carry many of the well known brands. It carries few in fact. Most of their stuff is their own, which doesn't necessarily make it worse quality (really, it seldom does!) but let's face it, many feel awkward giving up their all time favorite washing powder/ cheese/ face cream. And yes, Coop, especially the big ones, has a very nice 'drugstore' section, which might be of a Swiss variety (not many US brands), but is large enough for everyday shopping.

Of course, the largest of all (normally) is Manor. Usually ours in Geneva is full of tourists, as it's as close to a mall as you can get in Geneva (the 'real' malls are pathetic, you're better off trying the main shopping street). I really don't know price-wise. I would say it's more expensive than the other two, but I find that the same product costs basically the same through all three stores. But I haven't seen any budget deals at Manor, so that does make it more expensive. And the array of products is more select, ranging from what goes as 'normal' at Coop to hundred-frank bars of soap. That makes it the ideal place to look for gifts and if I need something of a more lavish style (or quality), I always check there first. They have a nice grocery section and I would definitely spend more money and time there if it was closer to us. As it is, I usually go for the drugstore products, gifts and notebooks and the like. Oh, and I love love love their small take-away corner, with delicious vegetarian wraps, and their freshly squeezed juices. Aaaaand, I'll have to add that we bought all our skiing equipment at Manor, for 70% off in January! ;)

Gifts and makeup remind me of Globus, to be spotted on the main shopping street. It's much like Manor but takes it up a notch, and I've never bought anything there, except for (very) posh and overpriced gifts and a couple of drugstore things that have fixed prices. The store's always full so I guess it has some things to recommend it, but besides their crepes, I hardly find anything that would be worth my while. (I generally have a better use for CHF 500 than a handbag, though I'm not really hard up. I just don't like spending that kind of money on that kind of thing. =))

I hope this helps and I hope
you'll stop by soon for more. ;)
Thanks for reading.
Have a great day, guys,
and see you soon! ;)



  1. Most of the Online Grocery Store owners will refrain from selling any perishable or bad quality items as their online business thrives on reputation and they do not wish to gain any unsavory reputationindian grocery wholesale

  2. Cool1 MIGROS is a good store in case you do shopping once or twice a week. Prices are ok (for Switzerland) and the quality of goods is pretty decent.