Post office doesn’t like brown packaging paper

Brown paper-wrapped package in Haute Savoie, France, copyright Wendy HollandsI took this package to the post office last week and it was rejected. Two rounds of tape was perhaps not enough? The address wasn’t clear enough? Nope. It offending element was the brown packaging paper. I wrapped a festive biscuit tin, complete with my homemade gingerbread cookies, in paper made especially for posting. I double-wrapped the paper, then folded in the ends and taped it all up, and wrote the address and sender details clearly.

The man at the post office explained that brown paper packages were no longer acceptable. Cardboard boxes are now the way forward. He mentioned ripping and lost addresses and suggested I gaffa tape the entire package and rewrite the address details in a thick marker pen.

Apparently, La Poste around these parts have a new mails sorting machine that uses suction to move the packages. The man behind the counter also explained that my letter for La Clusaz, 1.7km up the road, would be sent to Grenoble, more than 100km away for sorting, before heading back for delivery unless I bought a first-class stamp. In a world where train tickets cost more depending on the distance of the destination, letter travel seems to be in reverse: pay more, go less distance. I took full advantage and sent that letter on a journey!

Now, back to the package. Did I wrap it in so much gaffa tape that even a thief would fail to open the tin? Nope. I used plastic wrap from the kitchen then made a border of gaffa tape so the address appeared in a square ‘window’. If that suction machine โ€” the one that puts an end to logical packaging โ€” is going to get clogged up with my packaging, I want it to do a decent job of it.


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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8 comments on “Post office doesn’t like brown packaging paper
  1. Steph says:

    I had to redo a parcel once. The woman at the desk reckoned it wasn’t secure enough since a flap came loose but only after she’d exerted practically her full weight on top of the box for about five minutes! I wasn’t pleased.
    Somehow I don’t think we have one of those super-duper suction sorters in our part of the world, or probably ever will have. Sounds kinda scary …

  2. Wendy says:

    Pray it never arrives! The lady in your post office sounds like the middle-aged goth lady who worked here last year. Heavy handed is an understatement!

  3. I’m not even remotely surprised (see my post earlier this week: The French Post Office – a love-hate relationship). I’ve just paid 46 euros for an XL box to send Christmas presents to my nephews in Australia. I’d be better off just sending the money. If I don’t use one of their boxes, it’ll cost twice as much and who knows, my package could be refused as well. I also have to fill out two forms!

  4. Tay says:


    Just discovered your blog and read your latest post. The U.S. post office has instituted a ban against such wrapping paper as well, or so I was told by clerk at my p.o. branch. More $$$ to have to spend now on envelopes. ๐Ÿ™

  5. Wendy says:

    Fraussie Grouet, is it really heavy stuff? I’ve never used the La Poste baxes because they cost so much: I always thought they cost more(?). I might have to re-check.

    Tay, it’s bizarre isn’t it, that packaging paper of all things is being banned as packaging! Welcome to my blog. I hope you stay and enjoy my posts!

  6. Tonton says:

    Ah, la Poste. They always make problems, don’t they? ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Diane says:

    The post office where I live in the Loire Valley never knows which way is up. It’s intern season now and a newbie charged me 2 euros for a package that should have cost about 6. When I asked for the customs slip, she looked at me blankly not realizing my package was bound for the US. Imagine how many packages never arrive due to thinks like this. Yikes!

  8. Wendy says:

    So, so many stories, but I guess no post office is infallible. Sadly!

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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