c’est practique… bien sur! (si on est american)

This morning I heard an ad on the radio that, to me, exemplifies the biggest difference between the French and the Americans. (This is, of course, setting aside my amazement at actually having understood the ad in the first place.)

It was an ad for Carrefour. The giant, wretched answer in Europe to Walmart. It has everything at one point or another, but not all at the same time. See Tabasco on the shelf? Buy a bunch; they may not carry it after today. Need to replace a school supply half way through the year? Too bad. That stuff is only well stocked in August. If your child’s backpack breaks in January, you’ll find yourself at a speciality luggage store to replace it. Bras – they have ‘em. Bread – fresh baked or “American style sandwich.” Got it. Sauerkraut? Fresh made… but not always and not on a set schedule. Whole fish staring you down? Check. Entire lambs minus their wool and heads propped up in the meat case? Check. Sometimes. Surly checkers who sit down to do their jobs, don’t bag your stuff and turn getting price checks into serious ordeals? Never in short supply of those. Cell phones… refrigerators… coffee makers…. trash bags…. bikes…. toys… books… windshield wiper cleaner stuff…. fresh cut flowers… bedding… lights…. produce… cakes… beer… wine…. check, check and check.

Convenient hours? That’s debate able. It’s open earlier than most stores, simply by being open before 9:30 in the morning. It’s open later by staying open past 7:30. (It’s open till like 9 on Fridays. Maybe even 9:30) Need milk, bread or a waffle iron on Sunday? Too bad, you should have thought ahead.

Stores here aren’t open on Sundays. You can dash to the small market in your village for the bread and milk. The bakery is probably open. Both will close by lunchtime. And then, you’re on your own.

Laws are easing up. Stores are now allowed to be open on more Sundays than before. (It used to be only around Christmas and the start of the school year.) Not that I’ve seen a rush to make the change. No more stores are open now on Sundays than before. Well, this month is the exception because it’s Christmas time. And that’s what the commercial I heard was about. The Carrefours in the Grenoble area being open on Sundays. All day on the next couple of Sundays.

In the ad, one woman says “C’est practique!” And the other lady says “Oui! Tres, tres practique!” (It’s practical. Yes, very, very practical.) There’s the thing. That one little made-up conversation for the ad. They have to actually TELL people that being able to do shopping on a Sunday is practical. Can you imagine if all the major stores and malls in the US were closed on a Sunday? I remember one time many years ago Bill and I went to the mall on a weekend and were mad that it was closed. I think it was Easter Sunday. Now I cannot even imagine a store being open on a holiday like that. But if it were, it surely would be practique.

One Response to “c’est practique… bien sur! (si on est american)”

  1. D.A.D. says:

    When I was a teenager and young man in Indianapolis (some 15 years ago) the law was auto dealers could not be open on Sundays. I believe that over the past several decades has probably gone away. And of course, liquor I think to this day cannot be sold there on Sundays. Perhaps if the establishment does a certain percent of business in food, then liquor is okay. How complicated.

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