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Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

Paris, France
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Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

Many times, you will read sweeping statements like this one:

"All tabacs in Paris sell postcards, stamps and Metro tickets, too!"

But don't you believe it for one second, because it's simply not true.

Some tabacs provide some of these services, some can do it all - the problem is that you can't tell until you go inside and ask. Many people working here might not speak English, and if your French is not up to snuff, you might be wasting precious time that would be better spent rushing off to the nearest major monument, or simply sitting in a nice cafe.

What to do?

If you are looking for Metro tickets, the tabacs selling them will have a good-sized, turquoise "RATP" sign plainly visible outside. No sign? No tickets - no matter how much you beg. So you will need to buy them at a Metro or train station from a machine or the agent behind the counter there.

Need Postcards? Buy interesting cards as you wander the streets. The selections in newspaper kiosks are pretty good, followed by souvenir shops, then the stationery shops ("papeteries"). Prices are about the same wherever you go, depending on size of the card and if there are any additional "bells and whistles".

Need Postage? Postage for cards and letters is the same, and is based on weight and destination. There are loads of conveniently-located Post Offices in Paris - look for the yellow-and-blue sign "La Poste". Many agents speak at least some English, especially if you ask politely - but if you start hollering, you might as well be speaking Martian, for all the good it will do you.

You can also use the very handy machines at La Poste, if you want to avoid human contact, buy stamps quickly and be on your way. They are not difficult to operate - but you must know your destination in French - USA is Etats-Unis - since you'll have to enter that in order to proceed (look yours up on GoogleTranslate). Pay using coins or credit card - usually a change machine is nearby, if needed. Look around for the mail slots, and put yours in the right one - "Etranger" for anywhere outside of Paris.

Here is a website with helpful info on La Poste - in English. I think the rates are off by one or two centimes, but the rest is accurate, so far as I know.

www.discoverfrance.net/France/DF_postal.shtml

Edited: 09 July 2014, 15:32
San Francisco...
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1. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

The phrase for requesting stamps was one of the first I learned.

But you can always, say Bonjour, hand the agent one piece of mail and tell her how many you have. S'il vous plait. Write it down if necessary. Maybe buy a few extra if you expect so send more later.

New Hampshire
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2. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

I have never seen such sweeping statements, and always note that tabacs that sell metro tickets have the RATP sign.

Here's a great example of what to look for. On Google Maps, search for "Le Centenaire, Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, Paris, France", then click on street view. You can clearly see what the RATP sign looks like. Note also the sign to the far left, diamond shaped with "TABAC" in vertical white letters. Most tabacs have those signs and many have the RATP sign. Tabacs also often (or usually) have red awnings (though they may not be lowered) and/or a red facade.

Tabacs are a terrific place to purchase a carnet, much more convenient than hoping to find an attended ticket window in a station and/or waiting in a long line, dealing with change/bills at the machines that will not accept American credit cards, and no worries about being pestered by those unauthorized to "assist" you in the stations at the ticket machines.

It's also easy to find a tabac near where you're staying with Google Maps, PagesJaunes, or the RATP website.

ratp.fr/informer/…

Click on Paris, then choose your arrondissement. Click on "Où est-ce ?" for a map.

Buying tickets at a tabac is also very convenient if you're using the buses rather than the metro.

Pjk
New Jersey
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3. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

You also have to communicate where your post cards are going - the US, another EU country, etc. Rates are different.

Pjk

Paris, France
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4. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

I forgot to add this:

Stamps bought from the machines are very large - about 1 x 2.5 inches.

Make sure to leave enough room for the address, whether sending cards of letters.

Bellflower...
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5. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

I would also add that lA Poste is probably the best place to buy stamps to the U.S. I have read somewhere in TA that some tabacs have stamps to the U.S., so if you find such a tabac, great; otherwise, just go to the Poste.

Pjk
New Jersey
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6. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

I've never had a problem buying stamps for postcards to the US at tabacs. If one doesn't have them, the next down the road generally does.

Pjk

Colorado
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7. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

In April I used a machine at a postal annex on rue Cler to send postcards to the US/Poland/Russia. It had the option to use French or English. Place the postcard on top to weigh it and follow the simple, intuitive instructions.

8. Re: Buying Postage Stamps in Paris...

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