Holding My Breath for Mail

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Receiving mail in Paris has been somewhat interesting. So far we have made four orders through Amazon France and luckily we’ve received all packages. I say lucky because there have been minor humps to getting our packages and after reading about other people’s horror stories, we never realized how fortunate we were to have such an organized mailing and delivery system in the states.

The first time we ordered something was a keyboard for Nick at our old apartment. The shipment was delivered via Taps, one of France’s delivery services. We received it no problem because we were home; however, the delivery guy asked if this was our package after he had rang the doorbell. This is because the individual apartments in Paris do not have numbers for each unit. Everyone has the same address that lives in the apartment building. The guy was literally guessing which apartment on the floor to knock on, and he happened to guess the right one. It turned out the company that delivered the keyboard sent the wrong keyboard so we had to return it. Nick couldn’t wait any longer so he ordered another one directly through Amazon, rather than a private seller. This time it arrived, but we weren’t home, and they do not leave packages out front of your door like the states, signature required or not it doesn’t matter. There was no note and notification if there would be another delivery. We were fortunate to have help from the owner who called the delivery company for us to schedule another delivery. Without her help the package would have been returned.

Then more recently we ordered vitamins a couple of times. The first order was shipped via post office, La Poste. We weren’t home for the delivery, and the mail man here does not have access to your front door. And even if he did he would not leave the package out front. I did receive a phone call notifying he would deliver again, but through miscommunication of bad French and English, we missed the package again after waiting outside at 10 am for the appointed delivery time. The post man never made it. On the third attempt he left a note saying he would be back again to deliver the package. I never received a phone call when he arrived. Thus, another note was left saying I could go pick up the package at a particular La Poste, so that was easy enough to do. It took a week of an attempt for us to get our package. When we got it we were so relieved.

The second time our vitamins were shipped from the UK and it was through a delivery company. The guy called me when he arrived to the apartment building and barely spoke English. I didn’t know it was our package being delivered because the time was sooner than expected. I then realized it must have been our awaited vitamins and asked if he had a package for us. He said yes and told me he was outside. I said I would meet him out there and when I did, he was relieved because he didn’t know which building to enter to deliver the package. From the entrance of our place there is a little courtyard with two buildings you can choose to enter. The delivery guy had no idea where our place was at because, again, there is no apartment number and no indication of which particular unit is located at. It’s mind boggling to us why this orderly system is lacking.

Some of the stories I’ve heard from other expats are horrifying. You’re literally taking a chance and holding your breath every time you get a package because you never know if you’ll get it. Literally some people never get their package. Others have had to hunt down their package and figure out which store it is that the delivery guy left their package at. And sometimes the package could be delivered to the wrong unit where someone else accepts your package. If it’s a neighbor you know, great; but if it’s a stranger that decides to take your package, you’re SOL. This happens a lot, and not only with deliveries, but I’ve heard that it can be a nightmare to ship things out, too. We haven’t done this and don’t plan to anymore because we don’t want to risk it. I’m afraid to even mail out postcards right now, although I think losing postcards will be okay.

This is our experience in Paris, but some of the stories I’ve heard are in other parts of France as well. We haven’t experienced it yet but maybe we will in Nice. For our sojourn in France, I think we’ll always be holding our breath for packages and not to mention ones that have to go through customs. We hope to make an order at some point for our Vitamineral Green and hope this shipment goes through customs smoothly and make it out to us. Another story we heard was of a girl that received her package after customs had gone through it. They had put the wrong stuff back, and she ended up with an airplane part. What a mess! I hope this isn’t the case with us, and we hope to get our food if we decide to go through with the order. Wish us luck!

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