La Poste brings back itinerant post offices in vans to rural areas

The scheme aims to bring postal services to more people and harks back to the yellow vans of the 1960s and 70s

The vans will feature the distinctive La Poste yellow livery and offer a range of postal, internet, and banking services

Five rural areas in France are to be the first to receive visits from ‘itinerant’ post office vans in a new trial of the scheme by national postal service La Poste.

These new ‘travelling post offices’ - five Renault Trucks Masters lorries in the distinctive La Poste yellow livery - are now being trialled in rural departments of Orne, Creuse, Gers, Jura, and Haute-Marne. 

The €1 million scheme launched on April 19 in Champosoult (Orne), and is set to be rolled out in Creuse and Haute-Marne from April 31; and in Gers and Jura from April 27.

The vans will be on the road for a one-year trial and will aim to reach 13,000 residents in 40 communes. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out for longer.

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What services will the vans offer?

The ‘itinerant’ offices will enable customers to:

  • Buy postal products

  • Frank letters, parcels and registered mail

  • Subscribe to services for senior citizens

  • Access telephone and Internet services

  • Carry out banking transactions for Banque Postale accounts 

  • Make an appointment with a banking adviser (individuals and businesses). 

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However, only the Creuse van will offer cash withdrawals initially, said Nathalie Collin, the deputy general director of public and digital affairs at La Poste.

"It's obviously very complicated to install cash dispensers in lorries, in terms of equipment and also security, but we decided to test it anyway, in the lorry in Creuse,” she said to Ouest-France. "It's a test within a test, which is costly because, in addition to the cash dispenser, we will need two postal workers instead of one [at that van], for security.”

The idea - of taking La Poste to the people, rather than the other way around - harks back to the 1960s-70s, when Citroën HY vehicles would visit holidaymakers at the beach in summer and workers at their offices in colder months.

“It's a revival of an old concept from La Poste,” said Ms Collin.

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The concept is also a way for La Poste to better meet its stated goal of having a post office presence within 5 km - or 20 minutes’ car journey - for 90% of the population in France.

In 97% of the country, La Poste meets this goal - but significant disparities exist in some rural departments, including Gers and Haute-Marne in particular.