It was with trepidation that we went to the post office in Carcassonne for the first time. We had to go there because we needed to mail an initial contact letter into the immigration office in Montpelier so that they could schedule us for a physical exam and an interview. I know, sounds like fun in France, doesn’t it? There seems to be a universal dislike of post office practices worldwide and when you couple that with the insurmountable bureaucracy we’d read existed here, you can understand our dread. But then as we approached the building with the familiar blue and yellow La Poste logo, right in front we saw something else: a garden, a flower garden with benches and a water feature all newly installed. In fact, this haven of greenery replaced a parking lot. What post office does that?
The welcome that we received on the outside of the building continued once we got inside. I had already looked at the La Poste website to see that they offer 3 levels of delivery service (1, 2, or 3 day) within the country so I knew what to ask for. After I explained what I wanted, the gentleman behind the counter asked me to follow him to a self-serve kiosk where he slowly touched the changing screen displays and carefully explained how to operate the machine. In less than a minute we had the letter weighed, choices made about speed and proof of delivery, and postage printed. He then took the letter, thanked me and wished me a good day.
We had to make a second visit on another day to return some items we had ordered from a major online supplier of everything under the sun. This company emails you a label to print out, attach to the box that you are returning, and take to the post office. On this particular day there were several people in line in front of us but once again we were there for maybe a minute. A different gentleman came from behind the desk, asked us to follow him to another employee who took the boxes, stamped our receipts, and sent us out the door, again with a thank you and a good day wish. I kind of like it here.
If you’re wondering about the blog post title, in 1970 there was a song by Joni Mitchell that included lyrics about paving paradise to put up a parking lot. Looks like we’re getting back a bit of paradise one parking lot at a time.