petite anglaise

December 15, 2005

monop’

Filed under: city of light — bipolarinparis @ 4:51 pm

Monoprix: where customer service comes to die.

Unfortunately, as Monop’ (as it is not so fondly known) is the only supermarket located within striking distance of my office, it is a place I must reluctantly visit to buy supplies of Covent Garden soup. The other lunch options in the vicinity of my office are so fiendishly expensive (€ 10 for a sandwich and dessert, anyone?) that I have little choice in the matter. And so it is that with a heavy heart, I find myself once again in the Monop’ foodhall, searching for an oh so elusive shopping basket.

Five minutes later, laden with cartons of spicy Thai chicken soup and garlic naan bread (when the lover’s away…) I take up a queuing position. Not in just any queue, mind. Over time I have acquired an intimate knowledge of the relative merits of the motley crew that are the Monop’ cashiers. There are those who are painfully slow. Those who are efficient, but have a habit of chatting to local pensioners at great length. Those whose French is unintelligible. All, without exception, look thoroughly miserable. The pay must be terrible, and I doubt I’d be able to muster a smile if I were in their shoes, but, even so, my sympathy has its limits.

I opt for a young, but oddly toothless, cashier. My turn finally comes around, and I unload my week’s lunches onto the conveyor belt. Prompted for my carte de fidelité I proffer it, wearily. I have tens of thousands of points, but have yet to qualify for so much as a free cinema ticket. Unlike in England, where my parents jetted off for an all expenses paid week in the Channel Islands courtesy of their Tesco Clubcard, loyalty is not a quality for which you are handsomely rewarded in this country. Quite the opposite. My S’Miles card’s only function is to serve as a painful reminder of the fact that to amass that number of points, I must have spent an awful lot of euros in this godforsaken place.

Next, I insert my bank card into the chip and pin reader. It beeps in an ominous way, and I sigh inwardly.

“CARTE MUETTE,” reads the screen.

The checkout lady takes out the card, and rubs it on her grubby uniform, before shoving it unceremoniously back in the card reader.

“CARTE MUETTE,” repeats the screen, unimpressed with her polishing abilities.

In the interests of clarity, the checkout girl states, in a monotone voice: “votre puce est muette, Madame.”

This could mean one of two things:

  1. My flea is a deaf-mute; or
  2. The chip in my card is not working.

Out of the corner of my eye, I am aware of fidgeting in the ranks of shoppers queueing behind me. It is only a matter of time before the low, discontented muttering starts.

“That’s odd. It worked just fine in the bookshop down the road two minutes ago,” I venture, trying to maintain my composure.

“Well it isn’t working now.” comes the helpful reply.

Rifling through my bag, I sigh inwardly as I note the absence of my chequebook or sufficient cash to pay for my purchases. Dentally challenged checkout girl rolls her eyes and suggests I go and withdraw money from the cash machine on the ground floor of the shop.

I start to feel more than a little flustered. And cross. I am convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it is her card reader which is malfunctioning, not my card. We are surrounded by tills and card machines, but rather than offering to try a different machine, the onus is on me to go on a cash withdrawal mission. It’s ludicrous.

Leaving my half-packed shopping bags behind, I stomp resentfully upstairs to where the cash machine is located. It’s not working. A presentation rack of cheap, no-brand Christmas chocolates has been placed in front of it; the screen is blank. The nearest hole in the wall is 100 m down the road.

I wanted my Thai soup. And my naan bread. But not that much.

Time for a € 10 sandwich from Lina’s.

57 Comments

  1. This ‘carte muette’ thing happenings to me a lot and I’ve got a surefire remedy – You just have to rub the chip in your hair and that always brings it back to life, as I innocently explained once to an unamused cashier who thought I was taking the Michael because when I got a good look at him I saw he was completely bald.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — December 15, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

  2. That is my worst fear when i go shopping that my card won’t work. A couple of times they have put my card in and it hasn’t took and they have asked have i another way of paying and i have had to say no but please try my card again and the second time it has worked. Its a nightmare.

    Comment by Growing Up — December 15, 2005 @ 6:32 pm

  3. I just want to say that when I read, “my flea is a deaf-mute,” I literally laughed out loud. Thanks for that. :)

    Comment by Vivi — December 15, 2005 @ 9:19 pm

  4. I heard that check out clerks have the highest rate of suicide in France that any other group. I miss Franprix salads. A lot.

    Comment by Lauren — December 15, 2005 @ 9:20 pm

  5. Would you have had to use the same card in the cash machine?
    Sounds like a reason to have multiple cards.

    Comment by joeinvegas — December 15, 2005 @ 9:36 pm

  6. Monoprix, monotonie, monoflea, mono-souled cashiers – sorry, got a bit carried away!
    And besides, Monoprix means it just has one price, right? A LARGE one. They’re the same in Rennes *sigh*. At least it’s familiar territory all over! Our newest Monop used to be an Inno – or ey-no for us…place to avoid. I reckon there’s this superiority thing in France with cashiers, maybe cos they had so much power during the war, and the idea’s sort of stuck? I have NEVER seen a French person complain to a cashier, it’s always the same doe-eyed tamed look same as with doctors, teachers, priests and God in general… but bless them, I can’t find a Christmas pud (even if literally 10 cm in diameter for 3 Euros) anywhere else.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 15, 2005 @ 11:13 pm

  7. I just found your site and I can’t help, but smile. There is so much for me to read from beginning to current time. I am looking forward to it ;-). My interest in France is stemming from a recently acquired French boyfriend, so I am interested to read as much as I can.

    Comment by H. (aka NC_State_gal) — December 15, 2005 @ 11:16 pm

  8. God, I’d die to have a Monoprix in my country… even with bad services…if you knew. I almost dream about Monoprix at night…

    Comment by Pink — December 16, 2005 @ 2:05 am

  9. Methinks you need to be as bold as I: Next time it happens, tell the dozey cow to go check it at another till!! Grrr!

    Seriously, I wouldn’t take it and I’d tell her to hop to it albeit with a nice smile :) to make it more palatable.

    Comment by Kiora — December 16, 2005 @ 6:51 am

  10. The cashier in Carrefour informed me, at the top of her voice, that there were was no money in my bank account, as the card wouldn’t work. At the time we had just sold our UK house and had never been so rich. But the one that blows everyone away happened just last month; my local Bricomarché phoned to apologise, yes apologise, for having ordered the wrong type of glass before I went to collect it, they wanted to save me a wasted journey. I’m still smiling!
    J

    Comment by J — December 16, 2005 @ 8:07 am

  11. Waahhh! As I scrolled down this post, I could feel the knot in my stomach getting tighter and tighter. As soon as I saw the title, I knew the content was not going to be pretty. I too have to resort to the Covent Garden soups in Monoprix as my only lunch option and I too know the individual quirks of each cashier in my local store. What’s more, I often have to make ‘office trips’ to the place and, each time, the service gets worse. The consistent rudeness and inefficiency I have encountered in this store are worse than any other I have come across in France yet. I have so many nightmare stories, I could never even attempt to write about them here. Suffice it to say, that despite my stiff British upper lip, I have left the place close to tears at the sheer ridiculousness of situations more than once. My colleague had such a hard time there yesterday that he has written a letter of complaint. Although we all know that the response, if any, will be ‘Well, if you don’t like it, just shop somewhere else Monsieur.’
    And just to set things straight, should anybody accuse me of France-bashing, I do love France, yes I do, but Monoprix is just one of those kinks you can’t iron out.

    Comment by Katherine — December 16, 2005 @ 8:54 am

  12. Ahh.. the advantage of having your OWN account and then a JOINT account… one of the cards will work… granted you’ve got to memorize another code but…

    Comment by magillicuddy — December 16, 2005 @ 10:18 am

  13. The mute flea made me laugh out loud!
    Actually I think that I have had the exact same experience at the Monop in the 15th, and I was foolish enough to think that they must hire the mentally challenged (for which I thought was nice) because there is a center for the mildly mentally challenged a block away. Clearly it is a company wide procedure. Me too! I figure out who is the lesser of evils when choosing a line. Perhaps an entire booklet can be written with Monop Stories – Where Customer Service is an Oxymoron. I’ve got tons of them.

    Comment by alisa — December 16, 2005 @ 10:19 am

  14. Here’s one. You’re the designer of hypermarket petrol stations. You’re at a design meeting with a new client and you notice that everyone is wearing outsize shoes, red noses and revolving bow ties. But the really tough bit is when they ask you to build a petrol station that is *less* efficient than the existing ones.
    I mean, you thought that having 14 pumps all feeding into one lane, with everyone having to pay one at a time at a single kiosk window was a masterstroke, especially on Friday afternoon. Then adding the bit where nobody could use a pump until the previous user had paid… Genius. Maybe you could make each lane *just* too narrow for two cars. Oh no wait, you’ve already done that…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — December 16, 2005 @ 11:28 am

  15. If you go to Monoprix regularly at lunchtime, why not
    have a certain cash stack for that? Or take sammies from home with fruit? – All you do is French bashing these days. Are there no lovely things in Paris any more?

    Comment by Angie — December 16, 2005 @ 11:46 am

  16. Angie – if you read carefully, you will see that I am Monoprix bashing, and the only generalisation I make about France is that Loyalty card schemes here are a bit rubbish, frankly. I will stand by that statement.

    If I lived in England, no doubt I would regale you with rants about how the shop assistants in Curry’s could be replaced by teacosies without anyone noticing(thanks to stewart lee for that gag). But I don’t, I live here, and my stories, good or bad, reflect that.

    Comment by petite — December 16, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

  17. thank god it’s not just me! My heart is always in my throat when I pay by card at Monoprix (although I have to say my local one on rue Lecourbe is just about passable). Even though I have just been paid and I KNOW I have money I always think the cashier is thinking that I’m some skint waster who is trying to pay from an empty account.

    My card sometimes doesn’t work in Sephora as well but that is probably God’s way of telling me I don’t need yet another lipstick.

    Comment by Emily — December 16, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

  18. So how was the €10 sandwich?

    Comment by Iain — December 16, 2005 @ 1:58 pm

  19. Divine. Egg mayo and bacon sprinkles with a Laura Todd cookie.

    Thanks for asking.

    Comment by petite — December 16, 2005 @ 2:07 pm

  20. You’ve accurately described a universal experience while pinpointing the Paris version of it, I’d say. Who doesn’t know that anxiety about bank cards? And gives a bit of perspective as well–I long for Parisian delis, cheese shops and bakeries, but realistically know if I lived there I’d be shopping in the dirty-floored Monop too!

    Have you read Lynn Truss’ latest book? She’s got some witty comments about the present rudeness of service.
    Lisa

    Comment by LisaP — December 16, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

  21. You’ve just described my greatest fear when I go out shopping by myself in France. I’m just not confident enough in my French to make a fuss about things like this. Not that it would make any difference, but it would at least be nice to be able to say something. lol

    Glad you enjoyed the sandwich!

    Comment by Francine — December 16, 2005 @ 7:29 pm

  22. Darling,
    your blog has changed. I didn’t agree when somebody else pointed it out, but now…
    I think Real Life has overtaken you. Which is no bad thing.

    Comment by dan — December 16, 2005 @ 7:57 pm

  23. Reminds me of when I lived in America and had to go to a local grocery chain for my lunch…but I must add I usually had to endure tales of last nights drunken adventure swapping between the cashier and bagger. Boy, do I miss baggers! I hate putting all my groceries into the bags by myself!

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — December 16, 2005 @ 8:42 pm

  24. Bags, P.P? What’re they?? In the spirit of ecology we Rennais now have to cart armfuls of shopping + tired kids + schoolbags + tired self on bus/metro/coach… still, gives nice biceps; so attractive on a woman!

    Parkin Pig – I used your Parkin Pig Bonfire Recipes link back in November – wonderful tastes of home I’d forgotten about, but for us (Lancashire lass, me) it was just plain parkin, no interesting shape. Must have less imagination than the Yorkshire lot…
    Sorry for the digression, Petite!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 16, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

  25. Blogs evolve with their owners, I suppose, and whether the change is for the better or not is an entirely subjective thing in the eyes of each reader.

    I go through phases: sometimes I have a lot to say, sometimes not a great deal, sometimes I’m down and the words don’t flow like I want them too, sometimes writing posts gives me immense pleasure.

    There are times when I think the style of a post is influenced by a book I’m reading, or a film I’ve seen.

    But as far as I’m concerned, I never set out to write one particular type of blog, nor did I bill it as such, so it leaves me and the blog pretty much open to do whatsoever we please.

    (Which includes not writing at all sometimes, and not feeling guilty about it).

    Comment by petite — December 17, 2005 @ 10:19 am

  26. Oh Monoprix! I hate them too. I was a faithful shopper at our local Monopricks in the 17th for years. All the way through two pregnancies I went weekly, spending a FORTUNE every bloody week, getting it delivered when they saw fit, and paying about 8€ for the privilege. Every week. The checkout woman would simper at me, asking how the pregnancy was going or if I wasn’t ‘too tired’, pushing a trolley round every week. As if she cared. It was even better the second time around as I had a baby to put in one of those deathtraps they call baby seats, which made the shopping experience really unforgettable.
    So a couple of weeks after the birth of my second son, I was back again, going round with two kids this time-hurray!- and I noticed a teensy weensy sign about six feet off the ground, behind the deliveries only checkout. My curiosity got the better of me and I went over to read it. It informed me that it was company policy for pregnant women to get FREE DELIVERY. It’s the only occasion I have really sworn in front of my kids. I calculated 8€ x 40 weeks of pregnancy, twice, came out at 640€ that I’d forked out to the bastards when I shouldn’t have. And not once did anyone think to mention it. I can’t even go past that shop without getting annoyed, even two years later. I did learn my lesson though and ever since have shopped by internet. Not of course with Telemarket, since they are guilty by association…

    Sorry about the strong language petite, it still rankles.

    Comment by suziboo — December 17, 2005 @ 1:47 pm

  27. The frequent changes of style and content only make the blog more interesting and intriguing. As ‘Monoprix’ demonstrates very well, you have a delightful and subtle ability to snatch entertaining prose from everyday situations which would drive most of the rest of us to mute anguish and despair!
    As Christmas and the New year now rapidly approach, I look back on your posts over the year, reflecting your coping with life’s many ups & downs as a singleton, very caring mum immersed in all sorts of parallel universes operating in your life in Paris. I can just imagine you threading your way along the boulevard on a dark December evening, Tadpole in tow, Christmas tree on shoulder, musing about returning to the shop to re-visit matters of girth & foliage density with the assistant who sold it to you, & I bet still managing to look so chic,……. or contorting yourself to capture an electronic image of that dratted meter to send the reading to the utility company…. which seems to remind me of immensely complicated negotiations about payments to utilities consequent upon the re-shaping the Peteite household? The Year 2005 has been a very tough one for you, but you have survived it so well & Tadpole too, only more so. Perhaps its time to give yourself a very big pat on the back, look forward to a really enjoyable and restful time over the festive season……….. and my bones seem to be telling me that 2006 will be a very good yeart for Petite Anglaise. I certainly hope so!!

    Comment by fella — December 17, 2005 @ 2:33 pm

  28. My first visit to a Monoprix involved my baguette being shoved rather rudely back at me when I made a faux pas by daring to lie the thing down when I was organising my cash in my hand! The sales assistant grabbed it, thrust it back towards me and spat some not very nice words back at me, which I didn’t understand, but I understood the tone. I just smiled took the baguette and enjoyed the mental image of hurting her with said baguette – readers – I’ll leave it to you to think about *how* I would’ve hurt her :)

    Comment by Kasey — December 18, 2005 @ 12:20 am

  29. Unfortunately, the location of our office (a so-called “business park”) means that there are no supermarkets, not even bad ones, within walking distance. So I have to be organised and bring my own lunch. Probably works out cheaper in the long run though…

    When I lived in Lyon, the Rallye Super (or Super Rallye, I never quite worked that out) and the Prisunic (Prisu) in my “quartier” were both closed for a good couple of hours at lunchtime. Handy… Took me a while to get used to that!

    Comment by anxious — December 18, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

  30. Don’t you work near me? If I’m not incorrect, I can offer you two very good suggestions… the Bakery just south on rue de l’Arcade has good sandwiches for great prices. It’s such a gem, though, that you can expect to wait at least 5 minutes to get inside sometimes. Their quiche, if you like to eat quiche on the run, is outstanding. Another bakery/cafe around the corner from me, also on the same street, has killer hot lunches. The chef’s suggestion is 7.50 per plate. A couple of weeks ago, I actually had a decent confit de canard there.

    For God’s sakes woman, pull yourself together!

    Comment by nardac — December 18, 2005 @ 8:09 pm

  31. Oh, and fella, I’m not sure your definition of “singleton” is quite the same as mine. As far as I understand it, petite is in a very loving and passionate relationship. I’m sure there are some “singletons” out there who wish they could say the same…

    Comment by anxious — December 18, 2005 @ 9:59 pm

  32. I recommend taking your own lunch to work. Saves heaps of money and heaps of stress in situations like this.

    Comment by jen — December 18, 2005 @ 11:47 pm

  33. Might I point out that I am boycotting the Covent Garden Soup company, due to their soup exploding in my fridge and their customer services department never replying to me (despite the fact that I am a blogger and therefore Extremely Important).

    Really quite disappointed you’re ignoring my consumer protest. Scab!!!

    Comment by JonnyB — December 19, 2005 @ 1:43 am

  34. Hi there. Found your blog via a search of ex-pat blogs. Just wanted to say that so far, I love it, and looking forward to reading more in the future!

    Merci!

    Or as the Swedes say, TACK!

    Curiosa

    Comment by Curiosa — December 19, 2005 @ 2:01 am

  35. By the way, I also met a man via my own blog, completely unintentionally!

    http://kommissariecuriosa.blogspot.com/2005/12/law-of-unintended-consequences.html

    Comment by Curiosa — December 19, 2005 @ 2:04 am

  36. Hello Petite,

    I am extremely happy to have found your site whilst looking for other Paris-based blogs, as I find your articles very well-written and funny. You have an extremely sharp eye for detail and describe it rather exquisitely.

    However, and here is where this first comment to you may actually be my last!!!, I have a bone to pick with you!

    I’ve been here for 12 years, and am a Petit Anglais, if you like, in a vaguely similar situation to yourself.

    My problem is that I’ve gone through the ‘poking extremely witty fun at those with whom we’ve chosen to live’ phase, and to be honest, after all those oh-so-funny books about those oh-so-funny French and all the other band-wagon jumpers, I’m getting a bit fed up with people bashing the same old stereotypes over and over!

    Call me ‘grumpy from La Motte-Picquet Grenelle’ if you like, but I live here because I love it. I love France, and in particular I love Paris, including… sharp intake of breath… the Parisians who live here!!!

    I can see very well your use of artistic licence, and I say that without wanting to detract from your considerable writing skills. You write excellently, but I just take issue with you bashing the French quite so much and quite so exaggeratedly.

    I know Monoprix. And I know other supermarkets, both here in Paris and in Britain and other contries. And you find the whole gamut of attitudes from downright miserable to exceptionally customer-friendly and service-oriented. And it just pains me a bit that you seem to be tarring all of that (sub-?)species called the supermarket cashier with the same brush!

    ANYWAY!!! I had actually intended to simply make contact with you and look what went and happened! That’s how passionate I am about MY beloved Paris, I’m afraid!!! This posting is sent with lots of admiration and my tongue is somewhat in my cheek, but I hope you see where I’m coming from. I just wanted to balance things out a bit!

    Courage! And all the best in blogging. Keep it up. Sab

    Comment by Sab — December 19, 2005 @ 2:13 am

  37. Sometimes if a card doesn’t read you can put it inside a plastic bag, pull the plastic tight, and then swipe it again. *Ka-Ching!* Suddenly the machine can read your card again.

    Comment by michelle de seattle — December 19, 2005 @ 4:55 am

  38. Sab,
    do you know what? It’s December, everyone is in a mad, stressed pre-Chrimbo rush and Petite Anglaise is doing her best amidst working, toddler chivvying and nasty weather. I don’t think it’s French bashing, just big-city-difficult-life stress.
    I too love Paris and the Parisians. You really, really have to to keep it going in December!

    Comment by Flighty — December 19, 2005 @ 10:30 am

  39. Well, Petite, why didn’t you ask her to try another machine? That’s what I would have done…

    Comment by vonric — December 19, 2005 @ 11:46 am

  40. These accusations of French-bashing comments always really get on my nerves! It’s not French-bashing, it’s talking about everyday life and its stresses and it just so happens that Petite is an Englishwoman in France, which makes people assume its French-bashing. As she said herself earlier in the comments, were she in England her blog would reflect life there, which, no doubt, would be equally stressful at times. Life isn’t perfect anywhere, even in sparkly, romantic, beautiful Paris, and better to poke witty fun at it than to whinge, or to pretend it’s something it isn’t just for the sake of protecting other people’s illusions.

    Comment by Katherine — December 19, 2005 @ 11:59 am

  41. Hi Petite!

    I love your blog. Sorry to deviate from hard-of-hearing fleas, but just wanted to ask if that was you in the weekend Grauniad giving a tip about visiting Brussels? If so, cheers – off there for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year with the hubby and all tips gratefully received!

    Keep up the good work.

    sooze

    Comment by susie — December 19, 2005 @ 1:10 pm

  42. Without entering into a polemic on French bashing, those who share Petite’s monop’ experience (which I do) will understand the immense pleasure I took this weekend at a Tesco supermarket in Wales when the cashier actually looked me in the eyes and smiled.
    It made my day.

    Comment by passive smoking — December 19, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

  43. are you still with that guy you met virtually?

    Comment by claire — December 19, 2005 @ 4:50 pm

  44. GRRRR ARGHGHGHGH

    GOD. You captured the aggravation perfectly.

    Gah—- it’s a wonder no one ever goes postal in France.

    (And, I have to tell you, I saw the comment above about how your blog has changed– and I just want you to know I have enjoyed your blog, I do enjoy your blog, and I hope to always enjoy your blog).

    Comment by Elizabeth — December 19, 2005 @ 5:08 pm

  45. You know what I can’t understand? (but then again, I’m new to the blogging world) is how so many people seem to think that they have a say in how Petite should write. Surely we are just guests here, peeping through a keyhole and reading another persons thoughts? I don’t think Petite ever “french bashes”, and in this particular case the rant was aimed at cashiers in a supermarket – who for the record may not even have been french.

    Comment by croque madame — December 19, 2005 @ 5:38 pm

  46. claire – indeed I am. Will be spending a blissfully quiet Christmas with “Him Virtually Indoors”.

    Comment by petite — December 19, 2005 @ 5:51 pm

  47. Amen to Croque Madame. I agree with you 100%. Petite: Keep on keepin’ on.

    Comment by Kath — December 19, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

  48. i think no matter where you are you can have both great and an absolutely horrid supermarket experiences. whats really fun if you have a market that is 24 hours (which might be a US luxury). as all the oddballs come out then, it’s almost worth it to get a hot cuppa and go people watch for a good 10 minutes at about a quater past midnight. :D

    Comment by Doll — December 20, 2005 @ 12:37 am

  49. i have to wax nostalgic about monoprix only because i am still nursing a bottle of oxygenee absinthe that i purchased in one 3 years ago. while it’s just your standard grocery-store absinthe in france, it’s the nectar of the gods to me now. sure, ricard is a satisfying, refreshing legal substitute that i can purchase in my local liquor store stateside, but it’s a pale imitation of the real thing that you can buy anywhere in france. oh, monoprix — what i wouldn’t give to have your surly, useless customer service nearby!

    Comment by franko — December 20, 2005 @ 5:55 am

  50. Well, see the reaction you get to a tirade against monoprix, pronounced “monopricks” in our house btw! Next time, stand your ground, demand they try every machine in the supermarché until you are prepared to leave. You know your rights, and that is to keep everyone in the queue waiting, it’s only what a French person would do!

    Comment by Andre — December 20, 2005 @ 11:30 am

  51. What does get annoying on this blog is the rather regular appearance of french bashing, not necessarily from Petite herself. I always see at least someone relating to her experience as something linked to a pejorative comment on France. Look at the “postal” comment above. That’s classic. I know the french and english don’t exactly have a love affair, but it certainly takes away from the original post to comment in that fashion. Anyways, I think it’s more a case of unhappy underpaid overworked supermarket cashiers, than an idiot with no brains.

    Comment by nardac — December 20, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

  52. You should use their home delivery service “Telemarket” – It’s the ONLY way to go to the supermarket as far as I am concerned, a mothers lifesaver.

    The deliveryman is fantastic, the web site easy and quick, and the telephone help line people are always polite and helpful, and above all there is no need to go to the supermarket.

    I think I’d be a miserable witch too, if I had to spend my 35 hour working week as a cashier….

    Comment by P in France — December 20, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

  53. Not that I’m France-French bashing or anything, but I stood under the Eiffel Tower for the first time Monday (lived in France for 8 years) and the only thing I can say about it is that…it’s big and metal. Very picturesque from afar, but really not up close! Impressively sized though, if you see what I mean; gives the French (men) something to live up to -and they do! ;)
    There – that wasn’t French bashing!
    However, I met a HUGE number of Parisians, generally between the ages of 16 and 25, and found the majority to be surly, impolite,generally unpleasant and incredibly infantile…and I definitely didn’t feel safe once it was dark (I was on my own); although Birmingham/London/big cities generally are the same…Makes me appreciate Rennes…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 20, 2005 @ 2:01 pm

  54. France’s virtually non-existent service culture regularly drives me nuts too (I once had a completely surreal conversation with a shop assistant in the Fnac on the Champs Elysées who didn’t want to sell me something “because it’s the only one we have left”??) but my Monoprix is actually rather good and the checkout people quite chirpy. I know, it always surprises me too. So come and do your shopping in the 4e. The loyalty card scheme does suck mightily though.

    Comment by rhino75 — December 22, 2005 @ 12:51 am

  55. I loved this post. My monop in Montreauil is dire too. Not as bad as Super U though which is nightmarish.

    To the other posters (normally they are ranting at my comments but now it is my turn) if Petite didn’t want to live here she wouldn’t. Which means that she must like the French in some ways. Which means that anything that can be construed as Frenchbashing is only part of a wider picture. When I live in the UK I britbash with the best of them (Virgin trains, grrr) and over here I do the same. Doesn’t mean I don’t love the French, and Paris and the rest.

    Comment by cheria — December 22, 2005 @ 11:57 am

  56. Exacty Cheria, if you cant complain about french supermarkets then well, life just wouldnt be the same. Super U, if ever there was a shop misnamed its that one.

    And yes, overall France and Paris is great thats why we love living here.

    Comment by Andre — December 22, 2005 @ 12:52 pm

  57. OMG no-one has ever agreed with me on this comments board before. you have just made my Christmas André!

    Comment by cheria — December 23, 2005 @ 2:53 pm


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