Groceries in French Saint Martin (+ how to cook duck breast the French way)

Get out your grocery list! Here are the must-have items for Caribbean cruisers and where to buy them in St. Martin. Plus a bonus magret de canard recipe!

Last season we wrote about our favourite French restaurants in Saint Martin. This time we’re writing about all the amazing products you can get right in the grocery store. As cruisers, there’s a reason we flock to the French islands to fill every nook and cranny of our boats with delicious French food. For one thing, good food is really hard to find on some of the other islands. On the other hand, in Saint Martin, Guadeloupe and Martinique, the food is flown in from France and subsidized by the French government, so is often quite affordable. Plus it’s just so darn tasty!

Baguette, croissant and pain au chocolat, oh my!

Every cruiser’s first stop when arriving on a French island (after the easy clearing in process, of course) is the boulangerie for their favourite French patisserie, or pastry (we are partial to the almond croissant and raisin roll ourselves).

But there are so many other goodies to be found. It just may mean getting outside of your comfort zone. Here are other French foods not to miss while you’re stocking up in St. Martin.

Paté, terrine, saucisson, foie gras and other apéritif meats

The French invented if not perfected the apéritif (known as happy hour, 5 à 7, or sundowners to cruisers). So it stands to reason that the French have a wide variety of meats and patés that are perfect for serving during sundowners on a boat. Just add cornichons and olives, and it’s a party!

  • Paté: duck liver spread – generally comes in jars
  • Terrine: chunky meat in a jar, e.g. boar, venison, duck, rabbit – don’t think too hard about what organs you’re eating
  • Rillettes: rillettes is like terrine but uses meat from the leg, thigh, shoulder or rib – generally comes in a jar or a can. All of the above can be stored unrefrigerated for months, if not years, so you can stock up for future sundowners on less foodie-inclined islands.
  • Saucisson: dry-cured sausage found in the refrigerated meat section.
  • Sliced duck breast: usually found in the section with the other sliced meats, this delicious version of duck is usually smoked and is divine atop a slice of fresh baguette.

Click on the images below to see the larger versions.


You obviously can’t talk about French food without mentioning fabulous fromage. The French will make cheese with milk from any animal, whether cow, sheep, goat…even water buffalo! This means that there is a cheese for even the most intolerant diets! The dairy aisle is usually one of the largest in any French grocery store, so you have many types, shapes, textures and forms of cheese to choose from. Whether your preference is soft-ripened, hard, aged, sliced, spreadable, log-shaped, blue, etc., there’s a cheese for every taste!

While we’re in the dairy section, it’s important to mention that the French also make excellent yogurt. I don’t know how they make it so delicious, but it is not surprising that a culture (see what I did there?) that makes good cheese would make good yogurt as well. Yogurts made with alternate milks (sheep, goat, coconut, almond, soy, etc.) are also readily available.

Amazing canned offerings

When you live on a boat with limited/non-existent fridge/freezer capacity, canned food is a godsend. And when it tastes good to boot, you stock up. It’s the perfect thing to heat up under any circumstance, including:

  • when you don’t feel like cooking
  • during long passages
  • after sundowners go longer than expected

Delicious French canned offerings include:

  • Ratatouille (veggie specialty from southern France)
  • Cassoulet
  • Coq au vin
  • Boeuf bourguignon
  • Assorted canned veggies (e.g., beets, peas, beans)

Duck in all its forms (confit and magret de canard)

In addition to its appetizer forms, duck can make a delicious main dish as well. When you think about it, duck is an odd meat (perhaps the origin of the expression “odd duck”??): the thighs are like chicken, yet the breast is like red meat.

Confit de canard is usually duck legs conserved in duck fat. Greasy goodness that is delightfully delicious. Generally comes in a can so it can be stored FOREVER. Simply reheat and serve with your favourite side dish (hint: potatoes is the classic choice).

Magret de canard is simply duck breast. The bottom is a thick layer of fat, which in life makes the animal buoyant, and, thereafter, makes it delicious. Magret is best cooked in a pan. We used to do it on the grill, but after scorching our BBQ and nearly setting our boat on fire, we looked for alternative cooking methods.

How to cook seared magret de canard

  1. Score the fat (not the meat!)
  2. Apply coarse sea salt to both sides of the breast.
  3. Put duck fat-side down in a cold pan, then render the fat on low heat. Pro tip: drain off the rendered fat and set aside for cooking potatoes or other root vegetables.
  4. Once the fatty layer has shrunk to an acceptable amount (which is a totally subjective personal preference, but let’s say 8-10 minutes), remove the duck from the pan.
  5. Put the pan on high heat and cook the non-fatty side for 5 minutes, or until the interior temperature reaches 120 degrees for medium-rare.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Cut the duck breast into thick slices, then serve. We like mashed sweet potato and beets as sides, and will even make a cherry or blueberry coulis when we’re feeling fancy.

Look for individually vacuum-sealed magret de canard in the fresh or frozen section of the supermarket.


Yes, you can buy canned snails at the grocery store (shells sold separately).

Cans of escargot and box of shells
How to buy escargots and their shells


Another huge aisle at the grocery store will invariably be dedicated to wine. Delicious wines for under 10 euros is the norm here on the French side. Spending more than that constitutes splurging!  This may account for about 50% of the reason we keep coming back to this island year after year. When half your crew is a wine-ocertified sommelier, you go where the wine is varied and cheap. In places like Antigua, a passable bottle of wine (say a Chilean cabernet sauvignon that goes for $10 back home) was at least $25. Mel just couldn’t justify it and drank rum instead.

Shelves of wine at Super U, St. Martin
One of the many wine aisles at Super U

Where to buy

Now that you’re drooling, how do you get your hands on this tasty food? Here are the easiest stores in French Saint Martin to access by dinghy.

Super UA large, French chain. We go here at least once a week, they literally have everything, even for those with dietary restrictions. 10-minute walk from the Marigot ferry dock, or 15 minutes from Marina Royale.

CarrefourAnother French chain with a great selection. Ironically, there are none on the French side, but two on the Dutch side. It’s tricky to get to now that Port de Plaisance charges dinghies to park (outrageous!). Island Water World does a weekly bus out to the Carrefour Grand Marché, which has an even larger selection.

MonoprixA higher-end French chain with exotic imported produce and more expensive brands. This is our special-occasion grocery store. They also have a nice selection of frozen fish and seafood. Just a10-minute walk from Marina Royale.

CadiscoJust the basics, but still an impressive selection of French items, and often you can get everything you need at these local French-style convenience/grocery stores. There is a larger one in Marigot on Rue de Charles de Gaulle (near Marina Royale) and a smaller one in the Cadisco marine gas station in the lagoon. There is a third in Nettle Bay.

Comptoir du fromageAmazing French cheese store on the Marigot waterfront! All the French supermarkets have great cheese selection, but this is the place to go for something extra special. The staff are super knowledgeable and attentive, and will make sure you go home with a cheese you’ll love.

What are your favourite French foods? What do you fill your bilges with before leaving a French island? Tell us below in the Comments!


4 thoughts on “Groceries in French Saint Martin (+ how to cook duck breast the French way)

  1. Fantastic! I’m saving this post for when we return. Hope you guys are doing well, and we see you’re enjoying that fantastic grocery selection. We’re still in Statia, learning to scuba dive! (Was not planned). Such a friendly island 🙂 But no French grocery ;-(


  2. Now, the big question is… does French food taste the same in the tropics? Serious question! Bread drives me crazy for instance in Brazil, it’s so humid that there’s no way you can have a crispy baguette (and their bread is very, very good, quality isn’t to blame).

    It’s quite funny to see so many French classics in a very different setting!


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