The days when the horns of butcher, baker and fishmonger vans rang out in every French hamlet may be long gone, but you may find visiting optician vans.
Some 80 vans run by Optical Center are already on the road, as well as a bus service provided by Lunettes Pour Tous.
The latter, which is available throughout France, can be summoned through an online contact form.
The firm promises to make new glasses in around 10 minutes to replace broken frames or lenses, as well as offering eye examinations.
Same service as in store
Agathe Clermont, who is in charge of the Optical Center vans, told The Connexion: “There are people who need glasses and hearing aids who, for any number of reasons, cannot get into town to visit an optician.
“We aim to provide the same level of service to them with the van as they would get in our stores.”
Opticians in France require a doctor’s prescription to make glasses, or one from an optometrist working in a structure controlled by an eye doctor. A new law also permits orthoptists to prescribe.
However, opticians are allowed to carry out eye tests and change an existing prescription, as long as the original was issued within the last five years for people aged 16-42, or three for over-42s.
All the Optical Center van-based opticians have the certification to do this.
Computers on-board can access top-up insurance systems
The vehicles are equipped with Wi-Fi, allowing opticians to log in to their branch IT system and complete all the formalities, including using the tiers payant system where people with top-up health insurance do not have to pay for their specs.
Requests for visits can be made through a telephone number on Optical Center’s website. An automated response will ask callers to provide full address details. Alternatively, you can call your local Optical Center branch and check if the van is available in your area yet.
The company has patented the vehicles and has already started exporting the concept to Luxembourg and Belgium.
“Ultimately, the idea is to have vans in every country where we have stores, including the UK,” said Ms Clermont.