Covid-19: Use French post services from home

With one in ten post offices shut and people advised to only visit those if essential, it is useful to know about the many postal services available without visiting one.

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Such options range from printing stamps at home to sending a parcel via your own letterbox or having the postman/woman visit regularly to check that you are a relative are well.

Here are more details about services that you may find helpful.

Send a Colissimo parcel from your letterbox

Colissimo is La Poste’s normal parcel delivery service. The service of Expédition depuis sa boîte aux lettres means you can put your parcel in your own letterbox for collection and delivery by the postal service.

Preferably you should have a letterbox of a type and size according to standard postal norms (normalisée), but as long as it is big enough to put a parcel in and the postal worker can access it, then it should be fine.

To use this you should get your parcel ready and then pay for the delivery and print off a label by visiting this link. You can send a parcel weighing up to 5kg in mainland France or in the EU, including the UK.

Click dans votre boîte aux lettres for the type of delivery.

Put it in your postbox before 8.00 for collection. When the postman/woman picks it up they will leave an acknowledgement slip.

You will be informed by email about the progress of the delivery.

Send a Chronopost parcel from home

There are similar home-based options for the fast Chronopost parcel delivery service.

You may pay for and print your own label, as with Colissimo, and on writing the service is offering 20% off the service with a promotional code RESTEZCHEZVOUS. Click on the green Envoyez un colis avec -20% button at this website for more information.

By opting for Enlèvement sur demande, a Chronopost employee will call at your home to collect the parcel on your chosen date.

Print your own stamps at home

You can buy stamps at tabac shops, which are among those still allowed to open to the public, however they have a limited choice of types – and it may not be convenient for you to visit one. Printing at home with the MonTimbreenLigne service is an easy alternative.

Follow the simple steps at the site, including a choice of stamp design, clicking whether the stamp is for France or an international destination, whether you want it sent prioritaire (first class) or at the slower lettre verte rate, plus the maximum letter weight.

If sending abroad you must click to choose the destination from a list.

This is not for sending parcels, but for normal letters, or very slim packages up to 3cm thick.

You select the number of stamps required and complete final steps to add the stamp to your online basket and pay for it. You obtain a link for a PDF download.

For printing, the standard option is for printing on normal A4 or an A4 sheet of ready-made stickers, or there is an option to print directly on an envelope. Connexion staff have found it simple to print simply on A4 and cut out the stamp and stick it on with glue.

Never re-use the same stamp or print it off multiple times, as each one is for a single use, and has a different bar-code on it.

Send a letter online

The lettre en-ligne service allows you to write a letter online, which La Poste then prints and posts for you.

Send a special delivery letter (lettre recommandée)

Many formalities in France require a lettre recommandée (often ‘avec avis de réception’ – with a delivery confirmation slip) to be sent. You can do this at post offices, but if your local one is closed, or to avoid going out, you can send a letter with the same guarantees, online at this link by typing in the letter or attaching documents. If you are able to call into a post office but want to save time, then you can print out the recommandée label at home beforehand at this link and then drop the letter off.

We note that when we tried it there were connection problems due to high use, so if that is the case you may need to persevere.

Have the postman/woman check up on your or a relative’s well-being - currently free of charge

La Poste offers a service called Veiller sur mes parents, which typically involves the postman/woman calling on elderly people on a regular basis to check they are well.

As the name (Watch over my parents) implies, it can be set up by younger people for their relatives who may not live near to them.

It usually starts from €19.90/month for one visit a week (eligible for 50% off as a tax credit), however exceptionally La Poste is offering it free (one free visit a week) during the confinement period, both to existing and new customers, and with no commitment to continue afterwards.

What is more there is no condition of age or health and you can set it up for yourself or for a family member of friend.

Before any actual physical visit is proposed, they will telephone to check the person wants this. If not then the check of their well-being can also be offered by phone.

See this link for more information or call 0800 000 001 (free number).

Local shopping

A number of local shops and tradespeople are now taking part in a system of online ordering with options for pick-up at the shop or home delivery, via the site which is operated by a La Poste subsidiary.

We note that on writing it has been closed temporarily for updates, but was set to reopen imminently.

You should see a catalogue of available shops and be able to click to add products to your basket online. You then opt for either click and collect (pick-up yourself) or livraison à domicile (home delivery) and make a bank card payment via the secure payment system.

You will be notified by email as to when the delivery will be made.