We don’t have a guest room, as such, in our new house and that fits in well with the “Double or Nothing” philosophy we adopted when moving to France. In a nutshell, it just means that anything we buy here to replace something that we’ve left behind in the US must do more than one thing. For example, the top of our wine rack, right by the front door, gives us a place to empty our pockets after being out for the day and the drawers below that give us storage for pens, paper, maps, and notebooks. We needed a mixer for the kitchen so we got a “robot” that transforms into a blender, food processor, juicer, and a grinder. The patio table converts into a workbench. With the possibility that friends and family would be staying with us, we needed some kind of bed to turn the den into a guestroom. Ever-resourceful Bill ordered one and popped down to the wine store at the end of our street to pick it up.
Since we don’t have a car, almost everything we bring into the house gets here either in our arms or in our backpacks. If there’s something that we can’t find at the open air market or supermarket, like jalapeño peppers, for example, Bill just gets online and a couple of days later our shopping list is complete. That’s exactly what he did with this inflatable bed for the den. While the process works well, and we have not gone without anything that we really wanted, it does mean you have to stay around the house waiting for deliveries…or so we thought.
A couple of months ago while Bill was completing an order with what I imagine is the world’s largest online retailer, there was a reference to a Point Relais that unsurprisingly translates to “Relay Point” or a collection spot where he could have the item sent for us to pick up at a convenient time. We have since discovered these all over town in retail places like the florist, the newsstand, and a gas station. This same retailer even has its own dedicated automatic locker where you punch in the code that was sent in an email or just flash the barcode if the message is on your phone and a door pops open to reveal your package inside.
While that locker is convenient since it’s available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, when we go there we miss the interaction with that florist, newsstand owner, or gas station attendant. It’s a bonus, of course, when something can be delivered to the wine store. Not only is it the closest Point Relais to the house, it’s also the most fun to shop in both for the conversation with the employees and for what they have to sell.