Travel Tales: Buying stamps in France
I have some funny Paris-related stamp purchasing stories.
STORY #1: BUSINESS STAMPS
The first is from a friend who recounted trying to buy stamps for his business. He went to the business counter and asked for 500 stamps for his business.
After waiting a half hour in line, it is finally his turn.
The lady said: “Oh we aren’t open right now for the business counter, we are only dealing with personal stamps. Business affairs are done at 13:00.”
“No problem”, he said, “So can I get 500 stamps for myself?”.
“No”, she said sternly. “I already know they are for your business and therefore I cannot sell them to you.”
STORY #2: MAILING A LETTER
My second stamp story is my partner trying to mail a postcard to his brother.
We couldn’t figure out the dang machine to dispense the stamps (this is supposed to alleviate the problem of long lines at the counter), and when we finally got the help, the employee looked at us and said it required some sort of card that you had to buy at the counter (“mais oui!!” — but of course), and we needed that card BEFORE using the machine.
Yep. Business, French-style. Or rather it is more the employees.
It never fails to amaze me that every summer, the hottest ice cream shop (Berthillon) on Île-St-Louis closes for the summer holidays when it is the best time to do business due to weather and the influx of tourists.
(Not from Berthillon. I MADE that creamy lemon ice cream above.)
They just don’t chase money the way we do I guess, which is both good and bad.
The other citizens in line looked very put out as they had been waiting for the machine all this time too, and now they wouldn’t get a stamp because they didn’t have a card either and the counter was closed for lunch, so it would be another hour at least.
STORY #3: BUYING STAMPS WITHOUT A FRENCH CREDIT CARD
This is more just in general but a French colleague came back complaining that in France he tried to buy things at the store with his credit card and they said: Oh we don’t take credit cards that aren’t from France.
What’s the point of Visa and Mastercard then!?!?
Anyway, regardless to say, he grumbled about it and was thankful he lived abroad and didn’t have to deal with his countrymen again.