This is not the title I would ever have imagined heading one of my posts, and I didn’t even see the Double entendre initially.
This is a call for help in getting one of the basic services sorted out at my newly occupied French Brittany maison..
It was when I was having problems getting the internet courtesy of Orange.fr that this came to light. (Please see Orange is not very bright in France)
Orange had told me that they would send me the contract and passcode information by postal mail, because it is their policy not to send sensitive information by email.
Fair enough I suppose..
I had then waited for the relevant information to arrive by post, and having received nothing then went back to the Orange shop at Lannion and complained.
The good people at the Orange shop apologised and said they would resend the contract once again by snail mail.
After a period of time it dawned on me that there was something wrong because not only was I not receiving letters from Orange, I was wasn’t receiving letters from anyone.
So off I went to the local post office in Ploumilliau here in Brittany and asked the lady behind the counter if she spoke any English. She didn’t, but I had already prepared some relevant sentences in French which she read.
Then horror of horrors she looked up and asked me some questions in French!
I was like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights as I stammered back at her with some unintelligible rubbish that made the people in the queue behind me smirk and exchange glances.
She, however, took details and signalled that she would make some phone calls and sort it out.
One month later, nothing had happened.
So off I went again to the post office or La Poste, and essentially repeated everything to the same lady behind the counter.
It had the same result. Nothing. But she did say something about trying to catch the postman on his round.
Really?..How exactly does that work!
We live out in the countryside and yes, very occasionally I see the little yellow post-van go flying past.
I saw one yesterday, and I gave it a mental shake of the fist as I contemplated my next move.
I have decided to march down to the post office with a photo of the post box, a photo of the house with the post box marked in red, and a map of where the house is.
If that doesn’t work, then I’m stuck. Watch this space. Any suggestions are welcome!
Update! Update! Update! Update!….
I went back to the post office in Ploumilliau where there was a different lady behind the counter, who with the aid of one of the customers explained that I had to go to their sorting office near Lannion.
I had made up a sheet containing photos of the property and a map and some pre-translated English to French script, which turned out to be very useful because two days later, a very friendly and apologetic postman turned up with my accumulated post – fantastic!
On a sober note, I am acutely aware that most of the problems that I have encountered are my fault, because my knowledge of the French language is dismal at best. I am currently studying using an online French language program which is fun, but I’m told repeatedly, that the best way to learn French is to immerse oneself in live, everyday French speaking situations, which then gives substance to the stuff that you’re learning online.
Note to anyone moving to Brittany, start enrolling in French language classes before your move if you can, to at least get some basics. In my so far limited experience there are not as many English speaking people in France as you would think, and many of the ones that do, only have a basic knowledge. But one thing is absolutely certain, if you at least attempt to speak some French, the locals really appreciate it.