A preliminary warning before you read further: I’m in a bad mood! I’m in a bad mood against the French postal administration because of the experience I made last Saturday. Let me tell you the whole story.
On Saturday I decided to go to a post office to buy some stamps for my philatelic contacts in China and India. I needed the “Year of the rabbit” souvenir sheet and the “Marie Curie” stamps that I showed you in some previous posts. I decided to go to a big post office to be sure I would find what I needed. This post office has a desk with a “Philately” sign in front of it. First when I entered the post office I was surprised by the huge number of machines available to frank your mails with the standard labels. There were also a lot of people around the machines. I went to the “philately” desk and asked the clerk for the souvenir sheet “Year of the rabbit”. The clerk looked at me asking “what is it?”. I was a bit surprised and I told him that I wanted the stamps issued for the Chine New Year. Then, to my big surprise, he answered “Ha! Stamps. We don’t have any!”. You can imagine that my surprise was even bigger. Then I told him “but why is it written “Philately” in this case” and he answered to me very seriously “I don’t know”. I went out of the post office quite upset and it reminded me instantly of another experience I had end of December in Marseille where I tried to buy some stamps in one of the biggest post offices of Marseille (which is not a small city…) and I was answered that “they do not have any special stamps, only definitive ones”.
So this is becoming a reality: it is more and more difficult to buy stamps in a post office in France, even in Paris!
Last year (or was it two years ago?) the French postal administration has published a charter where it was explained that four categories of stamps would be defined:
the definitive stamps
the stamps used to “write letters”
the commemorative stamps issued for collectors
the personalized stamps
The third category is easy to identify since stamps are marked with a Greek letter “Phi”. So you see, according to the French postal administration, there are stamps that are issued only for collectors and not to pay for a postal service! Now I understand what happened to me. The “Year of the rabbit” stamp belongs to this category, so I should not be surprised not to find it in a post office!
In a previous article I explained that the French Post does nothing to encourage people using stamps on their mail. This is even worse than what I thought…
I finally found what I was looking for. For this I went to the new shop opened by the French Post in Paris called “Le carré d’encre”. This is a very nice shop, I must admit, people there were very nice and I had quite a nice time there. But this is not a post office!
The good thing is that I could find there some FDC and maximum cards for my friends. Let me share them with you before I send them to my contacts.
The nice lady who took care of me also gave me a sort of “happy new year ” card from Phil@post (the company in charge of producing stamps). This is a gummed sheet with perforations reading “Happy new Year 2011”, the 0 of 2011 being presented as a sort of circular stamp. Here it is.
She also gave me a calendar presenting the stamps to be issued over the year. Inside the calendar you can get information about the stamps to be issued and a picture of almost all of them (not all). Here is the recto and the verso of the calendar.
So at the end I was happy to have found all what I needed and even more. And I learned a lesson: I will not try to buy stamps from a post office anymore!