Simon Pocock
Simon Pocock

It’s incredible. In May there are 4 bank holidays in France:

1st May – Workers Day (or Fête du Travail);

8th May – End of the war, VE Day (or my wedding anniversary);

17th May – Ascension Day;

27th May – Pentecôte.

So, if the Bank Holiday happens to fall on a Thursday or Tuesday, which it usually does, the French obviously take the extra day off and enjoy a long weekend: “Ils font le pont” (they bridge the gap).

After 20 years of living here, I still find this custom strange. The French just don’t seem to care. The more opportunities to do very little, the better, in my experience. It reminds me of the French attitude to ‘service après-vente’ or After-sales customer service (there is a television broadcast that mocks it). I ordered some parts for my Countax mower in March from a local agent in Guingamp. Six weeks later, still no blades. The agent put it down to reorganization, as it was taken over by an American firm last year (typical of another excellent British product selling out) and they blamed the French agent who deals directly with England. I thought it was just pathetic and cancelled the order, found an online shop on eBay, and ordered direct as he had the parts in stock that should be here at the weekend at a cheaper price.

There seems to be an inertia with businesses. I guess something to do with their labour laws, where sacking people is difficult, and a lack of flexibility.

Our winter renter is moving out next week – ‘Big Ron’, a Dutch guy who used to play gridiron. We found a really cheap 12-month rental for him just down the road in the ‘Belle Roche’, a very pretty manoir with a traditional arch and gated entry. The owner has decided he can’t cope with living by himself and has moved into Plestin, staying with ‘Les bonnes soeurs’ so Ron will have the place to himself. It’s very pretty externally, but nothing has been done inside for at least 40 years. Still, he will be the Lord of the Manor for the moment.

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