Saturday, March 28, 2020

Le drive

In France, what we Americans call a "drive-through" at retail establishments is known as un drive. Whether it's fast food, a pharmacy, or a supermarket, the signs for le drive are everywhere. Except at banks. I don't think there are drive-up tellers at French banks. Not sure about drive-up ATMs, but I can't think of one. On Friday, I did the supermarket drive for the first time.

This is not our Super-U and it's not my photo. I got the image from the internet.
"Location" means "rental," most supermarkets offer cars and vans for rent. "Courses" means "shopping."

Ken put together our order on line. Both our local supermarkets, Intermarché and Super-U, offer the service. Since normally we each enjoy going food shopping, we've never used le drive. But, like a whole lot of other folks, we decided to try it to minimize public contact in this time of confinement. That first week, the web sites were inundated and things didn't seem to work right. But that all calmed down after a while. Ken placed the order and selected Friday morning between 09h30 and 10h00 for pickup.

When I drove to the drive, I noticed a few things. First, there were many fewer cars on the road than normal. Second, the recycling stations along the way were closed, taped off with red and white police tape. And while I was expecting the local gendarmes to be checking people for their attestation forms, I saw none. I got to the supermarket and they buzzed me in through the gate to the drive station in back of the store. They were ready for me.

First, however, there were a couple of substitutions. Ken ordered a pain de mie (a loaf of unsliced sandwich bread), but they didn't have one, so they gave me a sliced boule (a round loaf) instead. No problem. He had also ordered a cleaning product which they were out of, so they substituted another brand. Again, no problem. I noticed that there were no baguettes in the box when there should have been a bag of four (for the price of three!). The staff double checked the order and, sure enough, they missed that, so they went back in to get it.

When I got home and unpacked, Ken noticed that instead of the ten bottles of red wine he ordered, we only got five. But the receipt showed we were charged for ten. He called the market and they happily, and without question, gave us a store credit for that. I'm sure the supermarket staff are pretty stressed with the sudden increase in drive orders, the fact that they have to wear masks and gloves, along with the worry of being infected. Given all that, I think our experience was relatively painless and positive. We're planning to try out the other supermarket drive near us next time.

After the supermarket, I went to the pharmacy. No problems there. They filled my expired prescriptions as I read they were authorized to do. The only difference in the store were the tape markings on the floor to keep people a meter apart in line. But there was no line, I was one of two customers while I was there.

UPDATE: I just heard on the morning news that they've opened the first drive-through testing site for the coronavirus in Paris. They call it le drive-test.


  1. We are still going out to buy things in case of our two week isolation. Ordering online from supermarkets would be a whole new experience.

  2. Thanks for the new word. I didn’t know that courses = shopping. I’m glad that your new shopping experience went well. Our two week shutdown/stay home started yesterday although it seems that many businesses and companies are open that I wouldn’t consider essential. A mattress factory for instance. But then, I don’t make the rules.

  3. Glad all went well. I'm learning to not accept substitutions when I do online ordering. I'm surprised Paris didn't have drive through testing yet.

  4. I am glad this went well. And glad you noticed the things missing before you left except for the wine. This morning our Cuyahoga Valley National Park Farmers Market is having this drive through service for the first time. My daughter is picking up her order and mine, too. I hope it goes well.

  5. For the car rentals, are those through the same company, or is it a case of some known rental company just having offices in the grocery stores?

  6. Well done, Walt! I will continue to shop in the store for now. My friend here tried it; I will have to see how it went.

  7. I love that standardized concept. So great that you can take advantage of that service. It's not available to us here, unfortunately. One of our two large supermarket chains always offered delivery, but had to curtail this service due to the current demand. Our upscale supermarket never offered delivery before. They do now. But you have to phone in your order, and pay by cash only, exact change. Ah well. It's only 4 minutes away.

  8. All in all, your online/pick-up shopping turned out okay then, by the sound of it. We have 1 online supermarket here (with no brick-and-mortar shops at all) that I try to order from as much as possible. Unfortunately (for us, that is) they are now flooded with new customers, so finding a free delivery slot is difficult. Most physical supermarkets have a pick-up point: you order your shopping online, have it delivered if there's a free time slot (hardly ever) or you go there and pick it up. You have to get out of the car and collect it in person though - no putting it in the boot by shop employees.

    It's a thoroughly upsetting and disturbing situation and there doesn't seem to be any reprieve anywhere. I so wish it would all be over!

    Keep safe and keep well

  9. andrew, it was a new experience for us as well. We're going to try it again.

    bettyann, "j'ai une course à faire" = I have an errand to run. "Je vais faire les courses" = I'm going (food) shopping. :)

    evelyn, I wondered what they'd do if one of our items was not available. Now I know!

    thickethosue, best of luck!

    judy, I believe it's just the supermarket chain. Their logo is all over the rental trucks.

    mary, let us know!

    mitch, we pay with our bank card online, but they don't put the charge through until you pick up your order, and it also gets adjusted for substitutions.

    elgee, me too, but I think we're with it for a while. Or without it. ;)


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