All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

If You Go Down to the Sales Today...

SalesImage by Nils Geylen via Flickr
In the U.K., you had just recovered from Christmas when The Sales were upon you and if you were of the tendency that has had its eye on a particular cashmere jersey for three months but baulked at the price tag, then you would sharpen up your elbows and head for the shops.

In France, of course, these things are better regulated....well,  the French shopkeepers think they are.
You can't just have sales when you feel like it, that would be unfair competition for those who didn't feel like it, so you all have to have sales at the same time - though there are shops which get round this by frequently 'liquidating' their stock ahead of remodelling the store...i.e., moving a cash desk.

It's not worth nipping out between Christmas and New Year in search of bargains in the supermarkets either.
Those chocolates will not be reduced by fifty per cent until the last member of the family has returned to work after the break and the womens' magazines are full of post holiday diets.....
While as for the turkeys, it is amazing how a bird with a sell by date of 31/12 and present on the shelves at closing time on 30/12 can have metamorphosed into full price turkey portions with a sell by date of 07/01 by opening time on the next day instead of whole bird marked down to half price.
Just who was it who was supposed to be 'a nation of shopkeepers'?

Having moved to Costa Rica and experienced supermarket shopping here there are two things I could recommend to Mssrs. Leclerc et al. for their French operations....

Armed guards on the car park who also note any damage to your car and stick a note on the windscreen as to circumstances thereof.

This would put a stop to the wild side swiping and bumper crushing so typical of French supermarket carparks, though I'm not sure that I wouldn't prefer the perpetrators to be shot rather than just identified....
Especially when they try to claim on your insurance on the lines of Old Harry's marine insurance claim...
'Stationary end of pier slot machine flying no signals carried away my jibboom...'

It would also empty the car park of 'gens de voyage' threatening to smear your car windows with filthy rags while attempting to sell you overpriced baskets made in China.

Car parks that are designed for people with large cars and larger ideas of space when it comes to parking them......

A far cry from my local French supermarkets which always seemed to be arranged in a herringbone fashion with the one way systems deliberately arranged so as to make turning into the spaces provided as difficult as possible and extricating your car an exercise in gymnastics when the two bright sparks who have parked on either side of you while you are shopping decide to huddle close to you in case of a German invasion.

I have entered my car via the hatchback more than once.....and, thanks to the brainwashing administered by my schoolmistresses, have done so by sitting on the tailgate and wriggling forward backwards, if you see what I mean, to avoid awarding passersby an unseemly view of my backside - something we were always solemnly warned  to avoid.
We used to speculate about these shibboleths as schoolgirls...but, ours not to reason why, ours just to get a slipped disc obeying the rules.

Had suggestion Two been adopted in the north of France we might not have had the incident of the 'doigt d'honneur'....the raised finger which is the French equivalent of the 'V' sign.

Two drivers, one male one female, were competing for a car parking space....and from my experience it isn't just the shortage of places which is the problem, but the awkwardness of design that makes manoevring such a nightmare.
Both became incensed and high words were exchanged.
Finally the woman managed to park and the man drove off, but not before giving her the finger.
Typical car park rage.....

But not a typical outcome.
The woman was a deputy maire in the town in which the car park was situated. After doing her shopping she complained to the police who, instead of uttering soothing words, shot off to arrest the man.
He was an immigrant. From his name one would imagine that he did not have the typical Nordic colouring.

He found himself held at the police station for forty eight hours.....the police could not do this on their own initiative, they needed the permission of the public prosecutor....the 'procureur'.

The charges? 'Outrage' to a representative of the wit, a deputy of the many classes of person so protected...everything from a gendarme to the President.

The man said he did not know she was a deputy maire....the woman admitted that nothing he said indicated that he knew...the man admitted making the storm in a teacup.

He was brought to court and the procureur sought a sentence of five months in the jug...on the grounds that elected representatives and functionaries of the state were entitled to protection at all times, even if not in pursuance of their duties.

A dangerous doctrine.
Wives of councillors who give them a curtain lecture on the virtues of correct positioning of the loo seat risk being bundled off to the cells in their negliges....
A landowner who finds the maire illegally fishing in his lake and gives him the verbal one two might find himself wrapped in his own lines and carted away....
Carla Bruni, upbraiding the President for not getting up for the night feeds, might find herself following Marie Antoinette to la handy for the Palais de Justice...

Clearly, the judge....another whose name does not bring up associations of blond hair and blue eyes...was aware of the dangers.

He fined the man 38 Euros.
For insults...not 'outrage'.

And they worry that Le Pen might gain power.....

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  1. I was getting emails from stores advertizing Boxing Day sales about 5 days before Christmas. Unbelievable. Nothing makes a consumer feel a bigger fool and more cheated than knowing the gifts they spent a fortune on at the beginning of December are going to be slashed to half price by the end. But it does illustrate the true value of the goods we buy. The value itself is meaningless.

  2. Steve, you're so right...but when it comes to presents for children...who can resist.
    I looked at the online sales...well, one page.
    It featured a handbag reduced from 4,000 quid to 2,000.

  3. Goodness, what a shocking story. Even fining the guy €38 was an outrage!

    The sales were all on in the UK, not that there was anything to buy. My son couldn't find any clothes that he liked despite traipsing round 4 shops. Rubbish it was, all rubbish!

  4. Sarah, if I hadn't lived in France I wouldn't have believed it.
    A friend sent me the article...just in case I was feeling nostalgic for la belle France!

    I've only seen some online sales...and then what I wanted was either non existent or just too expensive.

    I haven't been out to look here...but there was whopping discounts just before Christmas.

  5. Thought I'd come for a visit as I see you over at Steve's and Sarah's.
    When we've been to France I've always quite liked the herringbone parking pattern but does it depend on everyone parking properly in the first place? I will make sure we keep our rude gestures in our heads next time: scary stuff!

  6. Trish @ Mum's Gone To, how nice to see you!
    Herringbone parking is fine if you've grown up driving in the can manouevre the awful lot of French drivers can't!

    And yes, it is scary's the underbelly of all the guff about France.

  7. To cheer you up(perhaps!)

    Happy New Year! I look forward to more of your wit.

  8. I certainly get the view that France is just a *teensy* bit over-regulated. And the attempts to sell stuff at full price after their date of use is astonishing. Christmas cards decoration at full price after Christmas, chocolate egss full price after Easter, and so on.

    I must remember to aske anyone if they happen to be a functionnaire before I give them the finger in future.

    But I do think the way that UK police are routinely insulted without recourse is going too far the other way.

  9. dinahmow, super! I'll get mother busy with the knitting needles!

    Mark in Mayenne, I don't know if it is still the case but in England it was a legal impossibility to insult a police officer...the theory being you were already in hot water enough if in contact with the police without their persons being sacred.

  10. Having lived in Ireland for a few years, I have picked up a colourful language. Sounds like a trip to France could be an expensive experience for me.

  11. The Banking Nerd...well, one, if you're white and two, if you curse in Erse I reckon you might get away with it...

  12. I loathe the sales and never indulge nowadays except online. As for sales in France, I never see anything in the shops in our neck of the woods I actually want to buy.

    One good thing about the supermarkets and bricos in our very rural area though, no herringbone parking and except on market day, not too much pressure on space. Small is indeed beautiful in southern Manche. :-)

  13. Perpetua, similar experience re sales both in France and the U.K.

    All our little supermarkets...where you could park...were enlarged into monsters with herringbone parking in my time in France. I used to like them when they resembled souks...