If you just glance at this photo you might think that we had gone to a drive-through gambling establishment. In Louisiana and some other states too they have drive-through liquor stores where you can pick up a case of wine and a frozen daiquiri to-go without ever leaving your vehicle. In France, it’s all about the food. There are about 3000 stores here, including this one called Casino, where you place an online order and a couple of hours later just drive into the designated area and it’s loaded into the trunk for you. We even have a chocolate maker here in Carcassonne who will do that for you.
The idea apparently started in northern France in 2002 when test marketing showed that consumers weren’t willing to pay a charge for home delivery of groceries. Europeans have a long history of making frequent shopping trips, sometimes daily, to get fresh products and because refrigerators were often small and couldn’t hold a week’s worth of food. We learned from our first vacation trips over here years ago that if we were going to go to the supermarket we needed to do so before the after-work crowd arrived or risk being stuck in cramped aisles and long checkout lines. The house that we’ve rented has a fridge as big as we had in Atlanta (with ice through the door, yippee!) and appliance stores tout their stock of “American-style” machines, so I guess that’s all changing.
We came here, though, for that high quality of life we had experienced in two-week snippets on vacations to France. We don’t have a car and have no plans to get one. That just means we go to the market a few times a week, pop out daily for fresh bread, and take the time to enjoy what we have. Oh yeah, that chocolate maker’s shop is just across the river. Maybe we need to add him to our “must-visit-daily” list!