Today was another low point in my pathetic use of the French language. So the lift is broken again, and having waited for four days, in the hope that one of our native French speaking neighbours might be bothered to do the obvious, it seems the job of calling in the lift repair man remains with us. So I call the lift help-line. The conversation goes something like this (in French). Me: Hello, the lift's broken. Him: What's the problem? Me: It's not working. Him: Which floor isn't it working on? Me: The third floor. Him: What about the other floors? Me: Yes, it's on the third floor. Him: So does it work on the other floors? Me: It's stopped, it won't move. Him: On which floor? Me: The third floor. Him: What about the other floors? Me: What? I don't understand. Him: What other floors doesn't it work on? Me: It's on the third floor? The conversation went on like this for sometime, before the guy passed the buck onto a local repair agency. I called them and [...]
Today I finally found a newsagents that actually opens on a Sunday. Although the vast majority of other customers seemed more interested in buying scratch-cards, I was able to acquire DNA and Le Monde to entertain me over breakfast. There isn't the same sort of newspaper culture here as there is in the UK. Most 'Sunday' papers are actually sunday-monday papers because almost no-one works on a sunday, including journalists. So you have to take your time reading the Sunday editions, savour them right through to Monday night, then pick up the threads again on Tuesday morning. But this means if anything happens on Sunday - there's a chance you won't know about it until Tuesday. "Read all about it - the day before yesterday's news! Read all about it."
67000 is the postal code for central Strasbourg. Thankfully everyone who has sent us mail, since we moved here, has correctly put this on the envelope. There has been mixed success with the spelling of the city name however: Strasborough - near Middlesborough obviously Strasbourgh - a scottish variant as in Edinb-urgh? Strassburg - for those who think it's in Germany Strasberg, Germany - for those who know it's in Germany
I've had three letters sitting by the front door for about a week, waiting for me to post them. But each time I've found a convenient time to nip out to the post office, this has always coincided with lunchtime, and La Poste is always closed for lunch. The UK postal service might not be the best in the world (in fact it seems to get worse by the day) but the French system appears to be no better. The problem is speed, or rather the lack of it. The whole system seems to be struck down with lethargia, to which closing two and a half hours a day for lunch does not help. Sending envelopes is one thing - but parcels is another, and they know this. Sending or recieving a parcel in France is a major waiting game. It is not uncommon for a simple parcel to take more than two weeks to traverse La Manche. So when you walk into La Poste with a parcel - they usually look at you as if to say "you [...]
Today is a bank holiday in Alsace, and in many other French Departments, because today is 'All Saints day' or Toussaint as it's known here. While in the UK the passing of a major festival is usually celebrated on the nearest Monday, in France they take the day off in question. There are pros and cons to this of course. The French are well educated as to the significance of Armistice day, VE day, Bastille Day and the religious festivals like All Saints. Should the festival in question fall on a weekend, then it's back to work as normal on Monday morning, but should it fall during the week they can take what are known as 'bridge days' to turn the period into a proper vacation from work. The religious festivals are a bit of a misnomer in a country that is supposed to be secular - but then no-one complains about getting a day off of work.