Tuesday, August 04, 2009

La Poste

Every town has its post office, and St.-Aignan is no exception. And St.-Aignan's post office is in a particularly nice building on the main street, rue Constant Ragot. It's a full-service poste and maintains regular hours.

The St.-Aignan post office.

The little post office in our village, however, is a one-room affair with one staff person. Its hours have been cut drastically to just a few a day. I'm certain that it won't be long before the government closes it down completely.

It's convenient for people in town, but for us it doesn't matter so much. Our local poste is just about the same distance from our house as the one in St.-Aignan, so we go to either one depending on our needs. For example, our local post office doesn't take bank cards for payment, so when we need to pay with the card we go to St.-Aignan.

The Sarkozy administration is trying to save money by cutting the operating hours of smaller post offices, consolidating postal services, and they are now proposing some form of privatization. I suppose it's the way of the world these days, but there is something so very French about la Poste that may well be lost.

Say what you will about France's postal system, but my experience with it has always been positive. Letters go from one end of the country to the other overnight in most cases. Our factrice (letter carrier) is very nice and very friendly. Every day she takes the mail into the home of one of our neighbors who suffers from MS, even though he's perfectly able to walk out to his mailbox most days.

Part of this is the benefit of living in a small town, I suppose.


  1. New word for me: factrice

    It is a great building!

  2. That's true about the postal system ( as compared to mine here) Letters sent to or received from France : 4 days ( cachet de la poste faisant foi, like we say). Montréal -Toronto: 8 days. Montréal- US: 10 to 15 days or more sometimes

  3. I, too, learned the word factrice today. :))

    Walt, can one still make phone calls at la poste, as in the "olden" days? What else can you do there that is not done in the U.S. post offices... pay bills, right? Just utility bills? Also, is there just one delivery per day, or do large towns (like Paris) still have two deliveries?

    We have a big news story going on around here, too, about closing numerous post office branches.

    Loved the photo :)


  4. La Poste in Paris (at least) is also a full-service bank. Is that true of Saint-Aignan as well?

  5. You are describing the situation in the U.S. too. The postal system is in big financial trouble and they are talking of consolidating and closing some small post offices.

    Our post office is in Sidney. The people are so very friendly. When we get a package they bring it to our house instead of leaving it down the lane at the box. We hear that the letter carrier stops to check on people who need checked on too!


  6. As a facture is a bill, does factrice, strictly speaking, mean bill-carrier? Our postlady in LeGP is called Patrice....that's Patrice the factrice.
    In England we have lost a lot of small village post offices. Many of them were also general shops for groceries, newspapers etc., and were not viable without the post office work. A lot of villages have therefore lost an important facility for people who can't normally get to the towns or supermarkets.

  7. how lovely
    we have to walk in the blazing heat to the 'community box'. And most of what we get is junk or bills. No fun anymore with the post.

  8. ginny, and the masculine version is facteur.

    beaver, must have something to do with homeland security.

    judy, I think you can make phone calls from the post office. Although, these days, most people have cell phones, so it's becoming less and less necessary. The one phone booth in our poste is almost blocked by displays, and I never see anyone using it.

    starman, La Poste throughout France is a full-service bank. I've used their ATMs when I can't find one from my own bank (which is rare).

    harriett, good to know that there are still friendly services where you live! I suppose it's a country thing. :)

    jean, good question! Both words have their origins in faire (to make) and mean agent commercial. The english word that roughly corresponds is "factor." I'm sure there's a better explanation out there, but that's what I glean from the dictionary at quick glance.

    urspo, we get some junk mail, but much less than in the US, and it ussually comes only one day a week.


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