Milk, paper towels, and a rental van
We go to the open-air market on the main square in Carcassonne at least a couple of times each week to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s fun to talk with the woman who grew those delicious tomatoes on her farm or the man who picked those luscious peaches from his own trees and now was “picking” them a second time to place in a paper sack for you to take home. While we can usually find any kind of produce we want there, it takes a weekly trip to the supermarket to get most dairy products, cleaning supplies, and the occasional rental vehicle.
Although rental cars are readily available at the train station, airport, and other agencies around town, if you want a larger vehicle the easiest way to arrange that is at the supermarket. At least three of the nationwide chains that sell groceries also rent out trucks of various sizes from small panel vans to dump trucks and even cherry pickers. It’s as easy as going to their website, filling in the pick up and return dates along with your ID information, and the reservation is made.
We opted for a small panel van, aptly called here a utilitare, for a couple of reasons: the biggest item we wanted to move was a sheet of wallboard and with our narrow streets lined with ancient buildings we didn’t want to be threading a huge truck through the eye of that needle. Our experience at the counter was a breeze where we weren’t pressured into buying a lot of optional insurance or services. The price quoted online already included coverage for damage to third parties and their property, to the vehicle we were renting (with a 1500 euro deductible), and to our designated driver, Bill. For an additional 30 percent charge, we could reduce that deductible to 300 euro.
We had already pre-shopped all of the stores that we wanted to visit, so we went like clockwork from one to the other, picking out and picking up everything we wanted, hauling it out to the van, and driving it to the new house. Since we’d been to all of these stores previously, buying anything that would fit into our backpacks to walk home with or a few heavier things that wouldn’t disturb our fellow bus passengers greatly, these trips took care of the bulky and or extra long items like a ladder, molding, and outdoor furniture. We even had time to move some of our boxes from the rental house so when it’s time to make the “big move” we should only need to rent a regular size car. Even then, however, we’ll still be dashing because when you stop your vehicle to load or unload it blocks the entire street which doesn’t go over well with the neighbors.
While I’m grateful that this whole process went so smoothly, next Tuesday you’ll find us back on foot at the market seeking out items for that night’s dinner. At least now I know where to rent a cherry picker, or in the case of the orchardist—a peach picker—should he ask.