If you ask me what my favorite store in France is, Picard would quickly come to mind. The frozen food giant is like nothing I’d ever experienced in the USA, and I make weekly visits (or as often as my little freezer will allow). It’s a favorite among the French too, and you can find everything from appetizers and frozen veggies to prepared meals and desserts.
Why is Picard so special? Let me show you!
Picard frozen food store is pure heaven
If you’ve spent a little time in France, you’ve most likely seen a Picard frozen food store, officially called Picard Surgelés. With over 900 Picard store locations in France alone, they’re a mainstay in France and one that I’ve wholly embraced. I’m not always the most motivated cook, and some nights we shamefully don’t even start thinking about dinner until 7 p.m. or later when I get home from the gym. When you need something easy to cook or just want to have a variety of options at your disposal, Picard should be your go-to place. Maybe you’ll love it as much as I do… French frozen food doesn’t get better than this.
What is Picard?
Let’s cover the basics first. Picard France is an entire store dedicated to frozen food. Picture your regular grocery store’s frozen food aisles times 10. This isn’t any frozen food store, though. Picard foods are all Picard brand (a few exceptions) and extremely high quality, not to mention the selection is unreal. Picard has over 1,100 products!
I’m like a kid in a candy store when I browse the cases at Picard. They even deliver to your home if you don’t live near a store.
So what can you find at Picard? Everything!
Need a dessert for company but no time to bake? Picard has some options.
No fresh veggies on hand? Let’s see what we can whip up from Picard.
The options are endless. Really, Picard food is that good. Even if you like to prepare your own food fresh, it’s not feasible for many of us day in and day out, so that’s where Picard comes in to lend a helping hand. Use one of their sauces on your home-cooked masterpiece, add a side of veggies to something you whipped up, serve a fabulous dessert, or grab one of their pre-made meals if you’re in a time crunch.
Here’s a short list of what you can find at Picard:
Hors d’oeuvres and other party food, appetizers, soups, fish and meat both plain and prepared, sauces, vegetables, fruit, chopped herbs, pasta, all kinds of desserts and ice cream and even bread and pancakes.
I’d say that a good percentage of our dinners contains something from Picard, whether it’s the protein itself, the side dish, the sauce, or the dessert. Yes, it’s that good. And convenient.
You have to see it to believe it, so let me show you.
The store itself is organized similarly to a U.S. grocery store’s freezer aisle — but with so much more. It’s a bit minimalist with deep freezers snaking around the store, but the products inside are anything but minimal. The colorful packaging has evolved over the years and the presentation is top notch. There’s usually a photo of what you can expect to find inside on the packaging along with clearly stated ingredients (great when you have an allergy like me) and cooking instructions.
Now, for a word or two about the quality. Picard is the French frozen food leader for a reason. They’ve offered organic products since 1998 and pride themselves on offering products that are as close to their natural state as possible, without GMOs, hydrogenated oils and only minimal salt.
70% of their suppliers are in France with local know-how, so fruit from Lorraine, scallops sourced from Saint-Brieuc, etc. Maybe most impressive is Picard’s commitment to the environment. They responsibly source, pack and distrubute their wares.
Picard is always innovating and they regularly have nouveautés for die-hards like me to fall in love with — in fact, 200 new products per year. They even started carrying Amy’s Kitchen products last year although mostly everything is Picard brand aside from a few products.
My Picard favorites
In no particular order, here are a few of my must-buy Picard food items. Trust me, this list could have been 50 items long, so I just included a few faves of the moment below.
- This veggie mix. I add a little garlic and olive oil and sautee until they’re slightly browned. This mix is a nice side dish but also mixes well with pasta. Sticking with veggies, their thin green beans are also excellent (and a bestseller).
- These cod sticks are my favorite. The breading crisps up perfectly and they’re not fishy at all. Right now they’re even on promo taking the price down to 5.35 euros.
- Having people over? Grab these mini puff pastries. They don’t disappoint. A box of 30 is 3.95 euros. Watch out, they go fast!
Picard in France is not the cheapest place around, so I try to stick to the promos of the month which are never discounted more than 15% or so. They just had “Hello America Week” where you could find frozen cookie dough, pulled pork, soft pretzels, and even a rainbow cake, to name a few, but it wasn’t cheap.
I find their vegetable mixes to be really handy and mix in great with pasta if you don’t have anything fresh to chop up. The frozen veggies are reasonably priced, especially when they’re on promo and are so versatile. The problem is that if I go in for frozen veggies, I come out with 10 other things that aren’t so budget priced.
We have a small freezer which is both a blessing (for my wallet) and a curse (I can’t always buy everything I want to buy). Luckily, we have a store a 5-minute drive away for frequent trips.
So yup, I’m a fangirl. Picard, if you need a cheerleader with business skills on your team, call me. 😉
Have you heard of Picard? Do you shop there, and if so, what are your favorite things to buy? I think we need a Picard USA soon.
Taste of France says
Ha! I stay out of Picard for all the reasons you list: so many fantastic goodies, but a little expensive. I lose control when I see all the yummy possibilities.
Yup, it can get really expensive so I limit my trips to only once or twice a month and try to stick to a list. I find the vegetables to be reasonably priced but anything “specialty” is insanely priced. I shouldn’t have gone in during “Hello America Week.”
Margo Lestz says
I’m with you. Picard is my best friend. Lucky for me, my nearest Picard is only a 3-minute walk away. When I’m on my own, I eat a lot of their single serving meals – and they are not bad.
Yup, there are some great ones. I like the merlu (or another white fish, i forget which one) with the cider potatoes in the gray box. That’s a good one!
Peter Horrocks says
Haha, mmm Picard… I was amazed at how many of our French friends and family here love Picard products. I’m not as convinced as them as I like to cook with fresh produce. But I do admit it is part of our weekly shop, especially for things like Saint Jacques and fish (believe it or not my French wife loves my fish pie) and I think their frozen herbs are brilliant as it’s really hard to keep herb plants alive on our balcony here where only cactus really thrive… I can get tempted by the apero goodies and the desserts too…
But that’s the beauty of Picard! Even if you love using fresh produce, maybe you need some herbs or a sauce. Or you aren’t a talented baker. Or you don’t have time to make an appetizer. There’s something for every type of cook (especially the less motivated ones like me ;-)). Thanks for checking out the post and taking the time to comment, Peter!
Interesting! I have heard that it is excellent for buying the onions for boeuf bourgignon and curry. I have never tried it as I have a residual British snobbery about frozen food stores. You have changed my mind.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised, promise!
Phoebe | Lou Messugo says
How can you have lived in France for as long as you have and not succumbed Emily. Get in there now! It is as far from “Iceland” as is possible and all my foodie friends of every nationality swear by it!
Thanks for the recommendation on Picard, which although I’ve seen have never tried, much for the same reason as Emily. (There’s a frozen food High St giant in the UK which is truly dreadful) I’ll check it out if I come across one in St Gilles or Challans.
You’re welcome! There’s definitely one in Challans because I drove past it one time when I was out there. I had no idea that there is a stigma against frozen food for British people. I say, go in with an open mind and see what you find. 😉
We’re not at all against frozen food, it’s just that the quality in that well known British frozen food store is shite, frankly. It’s cheap and nasty, although clearly millions of consumers shop there but I guess it has clouded my view on frozen food stores in general. I buy plenty of frozen food from the supermarket and I’ll keep an eye out in Challans.
Oh ok, I misunderstood and thought it was something against frozen food stores in general and not because they were all bad quality. Picard is worth a look the next time you pass by!
Jo-Anne the crazy lady says
Wow I wish we had a store like this here,it sounds bloody amazing
It really is wonderful!
This made me laugh a little because my freezer has virtually nothing in it since I came to France – totally different from my US eating habits! We don’t have a Picard near here (that I’m aware of), but I’m intrigued.
I find that I have a mix of canned veggies and other quick-fix items that I’ve come across and liked, which I use in a similar way to cut down on the prep time for a meal. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much better even microwave meals are vs. the average US version, so I’m not surprised to learn that there is high-quality frozen options also!
Maybe a Picard will pop up in your area soon. If you’re ever traveling and see one, their food is worth a look, even just to browse!
I tried Picard for the first time last summer on the Cote d’Azur. I think I must have not chosen well because we were disappointed, having heard all the glorious praise from our friends. We bought prepared dishes that we could just put in the microwave and found they were just so so. Three different prepared dishes. I think if I try it again it will be not to buy anything already prepared but just the things I can use to prepare my own dinner. Have you tried any of the prepared main courses????
Hi there, they have a few different lines of ready-to-eat meals, the cheapest being the orange ones which I think are 2 euros. There are some good ones but they can be hit or miss depending on what it is. The ones in the gray box are a bit more expensive but tend to be higher quality. If you’re willing to give them a second chance, I’m sure you’ll find something you like. 😉
There is now a “copycat” in NYC with locations on both UES and UWS. And they deliver! I get their stuff once in a while – because it is EXPENSIVE. But the quality is very high.
Hi Todd, thanks for the link. Checking it out! How do you get your groceries? I used to use FreshDirect and found the prices to be really reasonable, cheaper than the supermarket actually. Not sure if that’s changed now 7 years later!
We don’t use FreshDirect but many people do. We go to either greengrocers, Gristides, WholeFoods or Fairway.
as B&B owners we find their ready to bake croissants & other pastries go down a storm with our guests at a fraction of the cost of our local bakery. Their pastry is also better than home made. For ourselves we enjoy the ice cream, veggies & soups…
I’ll have to try the croissants just for the novelty of it. I bet they are delicious. Love their coconut ice cream! You have a beautiful property! 😉
Ze Coach says
Hi Diane, long time no write a comment. I miss Picard so much in Dallas, Texas. Sometime for the holidays, if we did not have an invitation, we would take something from Picard just for us.
Hello! Yes, Picard has GREAT holiday selections, and not just desserts. So many yummy things! As Todd pointed out above, there’s a place out of NYC that ships nationwide in the US called Babeth’s Feast. Apparently they are worth checking out… I emailed them to get more info but never heard back.
I finally made it! But only for a look around. You are right. There is too much good stuff in there. I am going to have to regroup before I let my purse loose amongst the aisles. Top tip, thanks. #AllAboutFrance
Yay, glad you finally got your butt in there! I try to stick to a list but it never works. I was in there last night and of course returned home with too many things. Could barely get everything into my freezer.
Phoebe | Lou Messugo says
You’re preaching to the converted here Diane, I LOVE Picard and use it lots. All my foodie friends swear by it too. Glad to see Emily has been tempted in!! I regularly buy the apéro selections and desserts, but also veggies and fish. They used to have some excellent crab meat but discontinued it a couple of years ago and now apart from buying a whole crab at the fishmongers which is far too much of a faff I can’t find fresh crab meat anywhere (I don’t want tinned). Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance
What do you make with the grab meat? Crab cakes or do you make a fish stew of some sort? Hope you’ve found another source.
Can you cook it from frozen
When I was very first in France, my French teacher made a joke about going to a dinner party where everyone raved about the food, but she knew it was all from Picard! I still hadn’t figured out what Picard was so I didn’t get the joke 🙂 Our last freezer in Lyon was an absolute joke so we couldn’t keep much frozen food, but I love just circling through Picard and seeing all the options. I actually like their frozen viennoisseries for mornings where you want something fun but you don’t have time to run out to the boulangerie. #AllAboutFrance
Yes, they have so many amazing things. I don’t know if having a small freezer is a good or bad thing. Last night I discovered a “Brookie” (brownie/cookie). At 1.95 for a small square, I passed, but I was tempted!
Rosie Hill (@EcoGitesLenault) says
There’s a Picard in our nearby town of Flers but I have never actually been in. I grow and freeze most of my own fruit and veg and rear my own meat …. but I do love fish and frozen fish is often the freshest (and in then heat of summer I prefer that to market fish). I think I may pop in when I am next in Flers and see if your description of Picard is justified. I may even have to try those cod sticks 😉 #AllABoutFrance
When you say you rear your own meat, what exactly do you mean? You have cows on your property and then send them to the slaughterhouse or you do all that yourself? So cool that you grow your own fruits and veggies. I’m nowhere near that talented!
Picard really is worth a look if you find one nearby. 😉
Usually, I would not be drawn to the frozen food section in a grocery store, so Picard was not something I understood. Until…I checked out the local one. Oh my what I had been missing. Thanks for sharing #AllAboutFrance
It really is THAT good!
June de Silva says
We don’t have a Picard here in Castelnaudary. I checked after reading your post! But there is one in Carcassone so I’ll be visiting soon!
Let me know what you end up buying! Enjoy
I must admit that I’ve never been into the store but have been curious. I’m a bit of a food snob and tend to spend the entire day thinking about dinner- so perhaps not for me. I envy your routine of going to the gym though!
My favorite in the winter is their soups…delicious and oh so easy! Sadly, no Picard in my neck of the woods 🙁
Oh man, do you live in a really rural area? Maybe soon…
Ohhh Diane… I love French food, but if/when I return to the States, the #1 thing I’ll miss is Picard!! It is my go-to for last minute meals. The boys love the Mac n’Cheese made with real French cheese! I love their breaded fish, chocolate cake and mint chocolate ice cream! During the summer (and Hello America Week), my family devoured their BBQ ribs nearly twice a month – so much better than the “real BBQ” joints in Paris 😉 Bon appetit!
Yup, agreed! I’d miss Picard too! I really think the concept would work in the USA. I loved Hello America week too. About ribs, I’ve found some really good ones in the supermarket. Or I just buy them plain from the butcher counter, smother them in BBQ and cook on low for 8 hours in the slow cooker. Meat falls right off the bone!
I’ve never been even though there’s one in the next town from me. I’m sure it’s really fun to look around! One thing I have to say though is that whenever I’ve tasted any of the appetisers from there at parties I’ve found them to be generally tasteless. Maybe that’s just me!