Buying food may seem like a straight-forward affair, and to some extent it is.. but muddling your way through the option can get rather more complex.

There's a running joke in Nordic countries about everyone going to neighbouring countries for cheap* booze—Norwegians go to Sweden, Swedes go to Denmark, and Danes go to Germany. Where anglophones say that 'the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence', Nordics essentially live by the motto that the booze is always cheaper on the other side of the border.

*It's worth noting that 'cheap' in this context is highly relative, and with the exception of Germany neither of these countries can be accused of selling booze on the cheap. They're very much "BYOB" holiday destinations.

Luxembourg is in the enviable position of having three neighbouring countries a stone's throw away, which makes it rather easier to shop around not only for booze, but also food (and pretty much anything else). If prices are too high in one country, you simply skip across the border to another.

In this article we'll look at whether, and when, making the journey across the border is worthwhile; which border(s) you should cross if so; and finally we'll take a look at a few speciality food shops in Luxembourg.

Cross-border shopping: Is it worth it?

Given the proximity of Germany, France and Belgium, and Luxembourg's reputation for being rather expensive for essentially anything but fuel, booze and tobacco, the temptation to head across the border for your shopping is certainly there. But is Luxembourg actually more expensive, and if so by how much?

A pretty good way to find out is to look at data from Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency—so that's exactly what we did. The chart below provides a comparison between the four countries for several categories—food, specific food categories, non- and alcoholic beverages, alcohol, and the overall combined household expenditure for these categories. The data is from 2019, but not all that much has changed since then.

RTL

© RTL/Eurostat

The bar of the cheapest country for each category is outlined in red, so the extremes break down as follows:

Food - cheapest in Germany, and most expensive in Luxembourg.
Bread and cereals - also cheapest in Germany and most expensive in Luxembourg.
Meat - we're seeing a bit of a trend here, as again it's cheapest in Germany, and most expensive in Luxembourg.
Alcohol - cheapest in Germany, and most expensive in Belgium.
Fish - Cheapest in France, with Belgium and Luxembourg being the most expensive.
Milk, cheese and eggs  - again cheapest in France, and most expensive in Luxembourg.
Non-alcohol beverages - cheapest in France, most expensive in Luxembourg.
Tobacco - as we hinted at above, cheapest in Luxembourg.. and most expensive in France.

So, if you live off tobacco and alcohol there would be little point in going across either of the borders for your shopping. You should probably consider a lifestyle change, though. Not  that we're judging, you do you, we're just looking out for your health.

An easier way to get an overview is to look at the final category in the chart, which shows total household expenditure for all categories. This shows that Germany is cheapest (though there isn't that much of a difference between the three non-Luxembourg states), and Luxembourg the most expensive. In fact, Luxembourg is the 2nd most expensive EU-state after Denmark.

Conclusion

Yes, you can make savings by going across the border(s) for your shopping—and Germany is probably your best bet. However, it likely will not be particularly worthwhile unless you do large and relatively infrequent shops given that you have to take into account the cost of driving (petrol, vehicle depreciation) and your time. Overall, the price differences simply aren't that big.

As a personal side note, my partner and I very rarely go across the border for our shopping. For us it comes down to a balance of time and money spent, and the financial savings don't justify making a longer trip on a regular basis - even if it's not actually that far.

Supermarkets in Luxembourg

While a small country, Luxembourg has quite a big range of supermarkets to choose from, though for price-conscious shoppers it's worth noting that prices can vary quite widely between chains. Unfortunately, we don't have any real data to show where each supermarket would land on a price scale, but it's a safe assumption that supermarkets lower down on the below list are likely, on average, to be a bit cheaper.

Do note that the list is not exhaustive, nor strictly arranged by price point. It does however include the main operators.

Naturata

Naturata is a cooperative supermarket chain with several shops in Luxembourg. They specialise in organic and free range produce and carry a good range of specialist foods.

Good for: organic food, vegetarian alternatives.

Cactus

Cactus is a Luxembourgish chain of supermarkets, with outlets of varying sizes across the country. Some larger branches also offer garden and home goods through their 'Hobbi'-brand hardware stores. At the time of writing they have around 15 supermarkets and 8 convenience stores and operate a range of smaller 'Shoppi' stores at petrol stations.

Cactus carries a wide range of products in all categories, including international brands and products aimed more specifically at international customers.

Good for: wide product range, local products, international products.

Match

Match is a Belgian chain of supermarkets, with over a dozen full stores and a host of smaller outlets across Luxembourg. As with the above two, they carry a wide range of brands and fresh produce.

Good for: wide product range.

Delhaize

Delhaize is a Dutch/Belgian (it was Belgian but has merged with Ahold and the new company is based in the Netherlands) supermarket chain. They have 8 full supermarkets in Luxembourg, as well as several smaller shops.

Good for: product range, selection of vegetarian alternatives.

Auchan

A huge French chain, there are several Auchan shops in Luxembourg - the two biggest ("hypermarkets") can be found in Kirchberg, and in the newer Cloche d'Or development on the other side of the city in Gasperich.

Good for: wide product range, international products.

Cora

Another French chain of supermarkets, Cora has two shops in Luxembourg. They are both "hypermarkets", characterised by their large range of products.

Good for: wide product range, international products.

Colruyt

This Belgian chain of supermarkets has four supermarkets in Luxembourg. Their mode of operation is slightly different to the shops above, and they tend to compete with hard discount retailers through their bulk sale approach.

Good for: product range, bulk buying.

Lidl

I would be surprised if you weren't already familiar with this German chain, which focuses on keeping prices low by largely offering less-known brand alternatives and a smaller range of products. They operate nine shops in Luxembourg.

Good for: low prices, alternative brands.

Aldi

Much like Lidl, this is a German hard discount chain of supermarkets. They have a similar business model and operate over a dozen shops in Luxembourg.

Good for: low prices, alternative brands.

Beyond the chains - specialist food shops

While most of the supermarkets carry a wide range of products to cater for all tastes and styles of cooking, the more adventurous cooks among you will likely find that they don't have everything you need. Nor will they necessarily have the best prices for 'international' food products. In short, it's not a bad thing to be familiar with smaller specialised food stores as well.

Luxembourg has quite a good range of specialist shops. This list again is not exhaustive.

Asian

Asia Market 
5 rue du Fort Elisabeth,
L-1463, Luxembourg

Dafa Supermarket*
6-8 rue de Strasbourg,
L-2560, Luxembourg

Happy Goo Supermarket*
6-8 rue de Strasbourg,
L-2560, Luxembourg

Indian Spice Bazaar
8-10 boulevard d'Avranches,
L-1160, Luxembourg

SK Cash & Carry (Asian and African)
38 rue ste. Zithe,
L-2763, Luxembourg

Tandoori Market (Indian)
219 rue de Beggen,
L-1221, Luxembourg

*Both shops have listed the same address online and in business directories; they are, however, separate shops located next to each other.

European/Western

Eirelux (Irish)
40 Rue des Bruyères,
L-1274, Howald

Enoteca Italiana (Italian)
11 rue J.P. Bicheler
L-3897, Foetz

Home from Home (British, Australian/NZ, US, Canadian, South African, Irish)
148 route d'Arlon,
L-8010, Strassen

Scanshop (Nordic)
615 rue de Neudorf,
L-2220, Luxembourg

That should pretty much cover it, but of course the list is not exhaustive. If I missed your favourite shop, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment or sending us a message on Facebook, and I'll see if we can't add it. Bon Appétit!