If you run out of bread at lunchtime in my village, you have to wait until 2:30pm when the first bakery reopens after lunch. In fact, retail hours in France are still at the low levels I remember in Australia in the early eighties. I embrace this now that I’m used to it, but when I first moved to France, I kept forgetting that I couldn’t pop down to the shops on a Sunday or on any evening to grab a block of butter or some other random cooking ingredient. However, things are starting to change around here as pointed out by one of my blog readers, Suzanne (co-incidentally a fellow Aussie who has been living just down the road for about a year — and now a friend), who kindly sent me this photo of a milk filling station, complete with paper towel dispenser for any milk spills, just down the road. She wrote:
We were riding our bikes this morning and came across this self serve milk dispensing machine in Annecy-Le-Vieux. €1 a litre is good and you can even buy empty bottles if you forget to take your own.
I’ve heard about these milk dispensers but I’ve never seen one, so I’m happy that Suzanne snapped away with her camera. Not only can you buy milk at any time of the day or week, but it’s not UHT milk — something of a standard in France for drinking milk. I’ve become used to UHT milk on my cereal and it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, it’s handy to have stocks at home so I never run out, but I’m wary that if I were to revert to fresh milk now, I may never be able to buy in bulk at the supermarket again. I’d be running out of milk all the time and heading down to Annecy-Le-Vieux for a fresh milk fix. Suddenly, the convenience seems very inconvenient! Now, if one of these stations happened to appear in St Jean de Sixt, I’d no doubt be the most regular customer.