Whereas I might concur just a little with the last of those (although to be fair we've always had a pretty easy ride and have encountered genuinely pleasant and helpful people along the way), I just can't go along with the other two. I like the lunchtime closure; it's a constant reminder that work and shopping are not What Really Matter. And with just one notable exception in our eight and half years, we've been lucky enough to experience fantastic customer service. And so, a story. Or two.
Last Monday was the weekend of the Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) and the whole weekend is a major festing/shut-down time here. It's one of those times when you really, really don't want anything to go wrong; it certainly isn't the moment you want the house electrical supply to die on you ... but, you've guessed it, it did, on Sunday evening. Eventually we traced it to the main circuit breaker attached to our meter, which had flipped off. Turned it back on; it flipped off. And so on, ad infinitum. Turned off all the individual circuit breakers in the house (and there are over 50 of them); nothing. Disconnected the meter from the house supply altogether; still nothing. This was bad news, and it was good news, the good bit being that it wasn't our responsibility but that of our electricity supplier, EDF. We and our guests all settled down - rather happily - to a candlelit evening.
Early on Monday morning, after a trip to the village boulangerie to put together a hastily re-planned breakfast, I tried to phone the 'emergency breakdown' line. But ... there was no mobile signal, probably because there was a thick layer of low cloud. Sigh. Back again to the village; none there either. Drove 5km to next village and manage to phone EDF. Waited 25 minutes to be answered then spent 15 minutes trying to persuade man that yes, I may be a woman but no, I don't need an electrician to confirm what I'm telling him. Eventually he gave in, amongst much sucking of breath, and told me gruffly that he'd try and get someone out at some point that day, but I wasn't to be surprised if it took over 24 hours.
10 minutes after I got back, and just 25 minutes after I put the phone down, an EDF van trundled into our drive. A charming guy first pronounced himself delighted to bag a bank holiday trip into the mountains, then pronounced the circuit breaker 'foutu'. He replaced it on the spot, and 30 minutes later power was restored - all free of charge, naturellement. Now I ask you - just how amazing is that, on the biggest bank holiday of the year? "Hrmph" said a guest, "that would never happen in England". And I'm sure he was right.
Oh, and late on Tuesday night one of our fridges died on us after an exceptionally good 15 year innings. A quick bit of research on the interweb convinced me that this particular death was terminal, and in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning a new fridge was ordered from one of the online mega-sellers that I use regularly; I think their warehouse is somewhere near Lille.
The fridge arrived yesterday, less than 38 hours after I'd ordered it. The price was good; delivery was free. This time our guest was speechless.