Like the migrating wildibeast of Africa, the Strasbourgeois instinctively take to their vehicles every Saturday for their weekly excursion into Germany. The Pont de l’Europe, which bridges the Rhine between France and Germany at Strasbourg’s eastern limit, is thus guaranteed to host a permanent traffic jam throughout the day, due to it’s frankly laughable capacity.
The reason for this mindless migration is (apparently) due to economics. The people of Strasbourg believe that shopping in Germany is a money-saving activity. I have had more than one person swear to me that prices are generally 20 to 30 percent cheaper across the border, and judging by the weekly traffic – it must be true – right?
The fact is – there is no way to tell. It maybe sheer coincidence, but very few of the stores in Germany actually stock any of the goods that you would normally find back across the border in France. So there is no way to do a like-for-like comparison.
Generally speaking, what happens is your average French family, who turn their noses up at shopping at low-cost places in France (such as Norma, Mutant and Lidl), bundle over to Germany and buy exactly the sort of goods you’d find in those very places – except with German labels on.
“Oo look darling we’ve spent 30% less than at that out of town oversized corporate monster hypermarchÃ© we went to last week! Quelle surprise!”
Okay people – so a bottle of French Kronenbourg costs 20 percent more than a bottle of German ‘brand-you’ve-never-heard-of-that-the-locals-probably-regard-as-gnats-widdle’ … but is that really a good reason to sit in a traffic jam for half the day every Saturday?
Je dis “non”.