Where is my mail?

French letterbox

It doesn't matter how fancy it is, make sure your name is on it

Okay, I promise this is the last thing I write about moving house, but it might be valuable to someone out there. In France, or at least in this region, you absolutely must must MUST write your name on your letterbox. When I first moved to France, I thought it was a quaint remnant of the past to let the postie know who you are, if they didn’t already guess from the names on your mail. I was so, so wrong.

If you do not put your name on your letterbox, even if you’ve gone into the post office and filled out the change of address forms and introduced yourself to your new postal staff, you will not receive any mail. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Game over.

I didn’t know this two weeks ago, so when I put my name on the letterbox three days after moving in, the postie then informed me that she had seen mail from the electricity company and the phone company and something else that looked personal. Did she not see the moving boxes stacked inside the door? Had she not seen cars full of boxes being lugged inside just days earlier? Was she not aware that she hadn’t delivered mail to this particular house for more than a year, and that it had a new name anyway (there are no street names or numbers where I live: just house names)? Did she not put two and two together when she saw bills from utility companies arrive that would indicate services being activated for the new people who have just moved in? Did she not? No, she bloody didn’t.

So, quite possibly, there’s now a housewarming card winging its way back to the person who sent it to me, along with some black mark against my name on some utility company database. Let this be a lesson to anyone moving to France: write your name on that letterbox as soon as you possibly can!


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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4 comments on “Where is my mail?
  1. Colleen and Grant says:

    Grant says . .”aren’t you living with a Frenchman, surely he knew about the mail custom?”

  2. April says:

    You’d think so, wouldn’t you. Apparently not though!

  3. Colleen and Grant says:

    LOL! he’s a torturous one isn’t he! LOL! For you to learn you must L-E-A-R-N…how frustrating, at least you have the patience.

  4. Annie says:

    Follow the rules! This is, apparently an important lesson in all bureaucracies, French or not. I believe it was a point stressed heavily to us when we moved into our apartment in Annecy. Must be true. Live and learn!

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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 wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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