Notices

How to buy French stamps

Reply

Oct 14th, 2005, 08:57 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2
How to buy French stamps

I'm headed to London and Paris next week, and I have a quick question. On my first trip to Paris, I remember the post office being the most intimadating place we went (well, and I was only 16)! All I will need is to buy multiple postcard stamps, to be mailed to the US. Can someone just give me a quick phrase that will accomplish this at the postal window? I took French in high school and college, but the ability to assemble this one phrase seems to have lapsed. Thanks in advance!
soonerstarla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2005, 09:37 PM
  #2
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
Go into any "Tabac" shop (looks like a newsstand; sells cigarettes, gum newspapers), and say

"Timbres, s'il vous plait"

(Taam-bruh, see voo play) - - a moderately butchered transliteration of something that can't be well transliterated into English.

Or just point to the postcards, into the empty corner where the stamp belongs, and say "USA". They will be something less than a euro apiece. Chances are, they will not have the one single denomination needed; be prepared for two different stamps per card.

Best wishes,

Rex
rex is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2005, 09:56 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 580
Alas, the French tell me that postcards arrive more often and faster to the U.S. if they are in an envelope, which costs the same but must be bought at the post office, I think. That sort of takes some of the fun out of sending a postcard, IMO.
daph is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 12:24 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,630
I'm not sure post offices sell enveloppes (at least they sell pre stamped prepaid ones for France) you can buy enveloppes in any supermarket. (or bring them from home!)you can prepare them with the address on it so you'll just have to ask for stamps (0,90&euro
there are machines which sell stamps in post offices but I think those stamps are only for France. If you're really afraid, buy the 0,45€, green (low speed for France) and you put 2 of them!
Don't be afraid! ;-)
Rex I wouldn't put emphasis on the end of timbre, just taam-br!
good luck!
corinne
cocofromdijon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 06:25 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,880
Please do not miss the key point that rex made: unlike the US, the best place to buy postage stamps in France is at a Tabac and not at the Post Office.
DonTopaz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 06:48 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 515
My French from school is pretty rusty too and I'm sure there'll be some grammatical mistakes in what I write but here goes:

"Je voudrais X timbres pour ces cartes postales aux Etats-Unis s'il vous plait."

Okay, over to the experts, was I close?
Where2Travel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 06:57 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 316
They can be ruder in Paris than other parts of France. I speak some French and have found that I if try, Parisians are most helpful and will often switch to English. If however, I start off right away in English, I sometimes get a less positive attitude. Wost case...just hold up the post card and point to the address. They will know what it means!
allanc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 07:17 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,629
I've always bought stamps at the Post Office in France, rather than a tabac, so don't know what a tabac would have. If that works, it would be better mainly because Parisian post offices often have extremely long lines for the regular windows. People are there doing all kinds of things and it takes a while. I think they've cut back on personnel in them recently so the lines can be long. The last time I was in one, they didn't have a machine that dispensed the appropriate stamps (the .90 euro one). I've never had any problem buying them, I've just asked for so many stamps to send post cards to the United States (in French). where2travel's phrase should work, although I wouldn't say that as I think it's missing a verb (pour envoyer), but it should work. The thing is you are going to have to tell them how many you want, so just pointing to a card etc won't be enough. If they know English, they may ask you how many, though. I wouldn't expect postal clerks to be super fluent in English, though, although I'm not sure as I only speak to them in French.

I never put post cards in envelopes, I wouldn't bother with that, they are just post cards. Time to get to the US varies a lot, but last time I sent some it was only about a week.
Christina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 08:08 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 19,713
The few times I tried a tabac, they did not have the stamps or did not know the rate. If you feel that your French is too weak to explain what you need, write your cards, or at least address them, and show them to the clerk at the counter. That's what I did in Romania and Hungary, and it worked.
Michael is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 08:14 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
And don't forget the bonjour, monsieur that comes before the timbres, s'il vous plaît.
Robespierre is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 08:20 AM
  #11
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 73,265
Hi S,

In general, your hotel desk will sell you stamps and give them to the postal carrier.

ira is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 08:27 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,630
"Je voudrais X timbres pour ces cartes postales aux Etats-Unis s'il vous plait." =D> (+ bonjour, monsieur ou madame, like Robespierre added!)
corinne, not a expert, French only ;-)
cocofromdijon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 08:27 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 777
The last time we were in France the man in the post office told me the same thing daph said about putting the postcards in envelopes. In fact, I wanted to buy stamps for 10 postcards and he said it was cheaper to buy a package of pre-stamped envelopes (they do have them for the US) than to buy postcard stamps.

It is true that the PO in the cities can have very long lines, but we were in a smaller town and it wasn't crowded.
nonnafelice is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 09:20 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2
Thank you all, for your advice! I do plan on using my French as much as possible. And I will be sure to check with our hotel desk, and a tabac first, before heading to the post office.
soonerstarla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 12:20 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 19,683
You may also want to specify "timbres par avion" if you want your postcards to go by air.
Underhill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 01:12 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 511
At the tabacs I know, they just sell normal internal stamps; I'd go to the post office and wait in line. The best is to have them ready to go, then you can just hand them in and they will put the stamps on for you. More talking is involved at the tabac than the post office. If you ask for timbres de collection you get the pretty ones =)

"Bonjour Monsieur(Madame).
Je voudrais acheter des timbres de collection s'il vous plait". while you hand them your cards.

Bon courage!
moxie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 01:27 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,099
I sent about 30 postcards when I was in Paris a few weeks ago.

I went to the Post Office, waited in line like everyone else, said "Bonjour" to the clerk, and showed her my postcards and pointed to the "USA" part so she could see they were going overseas.

She offered me an envelope that is cheaper and faster, but I'd already filled out my postcards (I took pre-printed address labels and slapped them on the postcards), and I wasn't about to write those addresses 30 times over.

So, I opted to just buy the .90 Euro postcard stamps. I put them on the postcards, mailed them in the "Anywhere but Paris" box, and found out when I got home that all my postcards made it here in 4 and 5 days -- much faster than I was expecting, that's for sure.

I found going to the Post Office being a fun experience since I was alone on a common errand, standing around with all the regular people, and being talked to in French til they heard me say "I'm sorry, I don't understand French." (I mastered that and a few other key French phrases).

The P.O. I went to was under renovation, so they had us crammed into a little back room, where a woman was offering us juice and petit fors (small pastries I'm sure I've misspelled), an endearing moment in my trip as well, given what a joke "Going Postal" means here in the USA. LOL

Happy travels,

Jules

jules4je7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 15th, 2005, 05:35 PM
  #18
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
<<In general, your hotel desk will sell you stamps and give them to the postal carrier.>>

This runs quite contrary to my experience in Europe. They seem to exhibit reactions ranging from "can't do it" to acting very put upon.

Quite the contrary to any higher end US hotel.
rex is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 16th, 2005, 09:24 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,120
I think going to post offices is big fun (then again I am endlessly entertained by grocery stores, laundy matts, etc.). Pay attention when you first enter to what others are doing, where you line up or if you need to take a number, for example.

I use the method a couple people described above... have my postcards written out, stand in line, smile at clerk, show the postcards, (I have counted them & figured out how to say the number I need in French ahead of time), pay for them.
suze is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 16th, 2005, 01:02 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,319
Hi

Not all tabacs sell postage stamps.

But as a rule of thumb, many shops selling postcards will have a stock of stamps. If they know the price, or stock them, for all regions of the world is another question. Most EU countries have a standard postal charge based on the domestic postal cost (Sweden is an exception).

A tip for post offices : go to the smallest, most rural, one you can find. No queues, and a smile !

Peter
www.the-languedoc-page.com
mpprh is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:09 PM.