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 know you could walk it there faster?’.

The actual experience is far superior to that of the UK. Rarely have I had to wait in a queue; there’s always the option of weighing and paying using one of their flash multi-lingual posting machines; and thus far nothing has gone missing (touch wood).

But all in all I think ‘Out to Lunch’ describes La Poste admirably.