Food & drink shopping
In most of Luxor, food shopping is based on markets, small shops and travelling salesmen using donkeys and carts.
The travelling salesmen usually sell fruit, vegetables and fuel. Fruit and vegetables are also sold in markets and in mini markets, sometimes single stalls or small groups of stalls on street corners.
Fruit and veg stall
The picture is of one of a small group of stalls near the railway crossing, close to the end of Ramses Street, not far from the station. There are many such stalls and small greengrocers in Medina Street, especially at the end nearest the big Vodaphone shop (see the map of central Luxor).
The tourist market also has a few fruit and veg stalls, but not as many as there used to be. Traders here expect tourists and may have special tourist prices. If you continue through the tourist market, past the paved and covered area, into the local market in Old Market Street, there are fruit and veg stalls that are more likely to charge the local rate. There is also a relatively new fruit and veg market, used by local people, just over the railway crossing slightly north of the station (see the map of central Luxor).
Prices in the fruit markets are sometimes marked and sometimes not. Most sellers know enough English to tell you the price if you point and ask. Alternatively, look for a stall where prices are marked because then you know you are paying a local price, not a tourist price. Prices tend to be in piastres per kilo, so 300 means 300 piastres, or LE3 per kilo. The prices will invariably be marked in arabic (see right), so you will need to learn these numbers or take a crib sheet with you. Expect to pay about LE3 per kilo for decent oranges when they are in season (usually from the end of October, depending on the weather), LE4-5 for strawberries and bananas but more for apples: up to LE15 for good imported ones.
As well as greengrocers, there are other single product food shops, typically butchers and bakers. Bakers are less likely to have prices marked. There is an excellent one near the entrance to the tourist market (on the way to the Horus hotel) and another in Television Street. Bakers sell a variety of pastries as well as breads and are usually able to tell you the price in English if you ask. Prices will usually be given in LE per piece. Most fancy pastries are LE1 (about 10p) but plain bread rolls should be cheaper.
General grocers often call themselves 'supermarkets'. Most supermarkets are small shops which have more in common with the british corner shop of the 1950s than Sainsburys as we know it, although they may have an element of self-service. These were once relatively anonymous but recently several have sprung up using British supermarket store names. Of course, they have no connection with the supermarkets whose logos have been copied and nor do they have any of the deals, loyalty schemes etc. They are just local supermarkets with false identities. Nevertheless, they are relatively convenient and some (but by no means all) products will be priced. For ease of access these little shops are fine, but the bigger local supermarkets such as Fortys have a much better range and generally better prices.
Luxor's first British-run supermarket, Arkwrights, is in the road beside the St Joseph hotel. Although similar in style, Arkwrights is nothing like the size of supermarket you expect in the UK. To begin with, much of the produce may be locally sourced, although more recently containers of food from England have heralded the arrival of 'true' corn flakes and the like, rather than a version made under licence. Arkwrights sells cereals, soups, tinned and frozen food, sweets and biscuits, pet food, drinks, a little fruit and other groceries as well as a few novelty items. They also make up sandwiches and rolls.
Forty Supermarket, near Georgina restaurant
Fortys, Frozen & deli
Fortys, Personal requisites
For a larger local supermarket, selling a really good range of local and imported products, go slightly away from the tourist areas. One of the most popular used to be Omar in Medina Street (see the map). The easiest way to get there is to go to the end of St Joseph hotel street and turn left (this is Medina Street). The road is a dual carriageway. It has lots of shops which, whilst not tourist shops as such, have much of interest. Look out on the right for Omar's supermarket, not long before the road becomes a single carriageway (and much narrower). Omar used to have lots of prices marked but it has become a bit untidier recently, with fewer marked prices and, in our experience, less tourist friendly.
Newer, much tidier, and more akin to the smaller UK supermarkets is Forty, near Georgina restaurant (see map).
Imported coffee and tea are available for those missing the genuine beverage as well as a wide range of biscuits, other foods and drinks at prices much lower than in the tourist areas. You can also get the toiletries you forgot to bring and essentials for children. Prices are in LE and written in 'western' numbers, but fewer products are pre-priced than used to be the case. Nevertheless, it is worth coming here to stock up on water, cold drinks and biscuits, even if you don't need to go food shopping. If you are self-catering, a visit to one of these larger local supermarkets is essential for a wide range of fresh, frozen and pre-packed foods.
Updated October 2014