The great American past-time/sport/addiction/hobby!
I indulged last weekend. We went to Andorra. That's what people do in Andorra: they shop. They also ski in winter (not this one, though, no snow) and hike in the summer; but, primarily, people shop. Bus loads of them. At Christmas they buy sugar, coffee and chocolate by the case. Year-round they buy huge wheels of cheese, multiple small wheels of cheese and hams.
Above is the ham rack at the biggest store. Iberian Hams are similar to the Italian Prosciutto and will range in price from 250 euros for the cheapest to well over 700 euros for the black-footed Jamon Jabugo (which, is reportedly going to be available in the U.S. next year for over $2000.00 per ham). Naturally you can buy the necessary stand for the ham here as well. It is served at room temperature, sliced paper thin with a huge, long 'ham knife'. It is never cooked!
People shop in Andorra because it's a (almost) duty-free country. Luxury goods are less expensive. Electronics, leather, jewelry, watches, furs, tobacco and booze are all a bargain in Andorra. The only items controlled at the borders (Andorra is NOT part of the EU) are tobacco and alcohol.
Fortunately, it's easy to monitor. They are only two ways in and out of the country: one road across the French border and one across the Spanish. Every vehicle is checked. Every time. You pull into the station, get out and open your doors and trunk (boot).
After living in Andorra for seven years I still don't own a leather jacket or fur coat; didn't buy a Rolex and didn't even buy a whole ham. What did I buy on my shopping spree? What else, the food I can't find in France.
First, and most important, is the olive oil. This 5 litre bottle cost 26 euros and is Extra Virgin First Cold Pressed. One can't even find the tiny little bottles sold in the U.S. (or France) 2.5 litres is the smallest you can get. Did you know that a good portion of Italian olive oil is made with Spanish olives? You see huge tanker trucks transporting the oil from Spain to Italy for bottling (and, of course, labeling).
Then the odd bits: Hot Mexican Ketchup, Anchovy Stuffed Olives, Water Chestnuts, Cambells Cream of Chicken Soup, Asparagus, both green and white, hot Taco Sauce, Roasted Pimientos (Pimentos), Banderillas (it's a pickle, jalapeno, anchovy olive, red pepper and pickled onion on a 'sword'), HP sauce, Barbecue Sauce, Italian Bread Crumbs and Cream Crackers.
Because Andorra has a huge expat presence, from all nationalities, there is a rather eclectic feel to the food shops. You can find Chinese vinegar with whole pickled lizards in the bottle right next to Brit's beloved Marmite next to Campbells soup.
When we lived in the U.S. it never occurred to me that I might not be able to buy a product that I liked and used. In Andorra the rule was that if you saw something, buy it all 'cause you may never see it again. After living in three countries I find myself wanting things that I can't get wherever it is I am. In Andorra it was good lamb and duck breasts (we drove to France to stock up). Now it's Pimientos and Listerine.
OMG! Am I ever a boring shopper!