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Pricey Posting Photos From Paris

While France is watching the developing upcoming French elections and its myriad of candidates (none of which seem very appealing to me, however) and the U.S. is glued to their TV’s in shock over the deadly shooting spree on the Virginia Tech Campus, I set out into the warm unseasonable weather to accomplish one simple task…post three packages.

The packages contained wedding photo albums filled with the images Erica had taken of the two traditional Indian weddings she was hired to photograph this past February. The photos were printed by which I have used many times in the last few years — good quality prints at very reasonable prices and the service is top notch. When they learned that the 600 prints I had ordered had not arrived within the 10 days they guarantee, they submitted the order again at no charge. There is no charge for international delivery and the orders usually arrive quite promptly. This one arrived just one day late and now with two complete sets for the price of one, there are no complaints.

The BHV department store is the best place on the planet to buy photo albums. There is a complete department of albums to choose from, so the biggest problem is not finding something that suits your fancy, but how to make a decision among the many that do! You’ll find them just near the preconstructed art frames and mats, of which there is also an amazing selection. The BHV (pronounced “bay-ach-vay” and stands for “Le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville,” is the imposing building just opposite the Hôtel de Ville on rue de Rivoli that becomes the home away from home for every “bricoleur” (do-it-yourselfer) as if the BHV doesn’t have it, then it doesn’t exist.

So, after printing the photos, organizing the albums, wrapping each securely, labeling them for mailing, and preparing them for transport in my six-wheel “Rolser” shopping cart, I set out to find the best way to mail packages from Paris to the U.S. and India.

I first saw the six-wheel Rolser shopping cart in Venice, Italy, where the (mostly) women were easily rolling them up and over the canal steps without blinking an eye. There are three wheels on each side that easily “jump” the 70 steps to my apartment; it’s light, strong and folds flat to fit in the closet. Made in Spain, the corporate Web site is useless to find them (, but don’t distress, the hardware store named “Dujardin” at 71 rue Montorgueil sells them!

To mail the packages, I didn’t even begin to consider the French postal service. The last time I made that mistake, mailing my daughter’s left-behind iPod back to her in New York, the clerk insisted the contents be noted on the outside of the package, “iPod,” and you can guess that it was never to be seen again. I insured it for 500 euros, but even with that, it’s taken almost six months of bureaucracy to make the claim and still we are awaiting the settlement.

Down rue Réaumur I went with the Rolser in tow stopping first at UPS ( at number 107 (2nd arrondissement, The 3-kilo package to India was estimated at 188€ at the economic rate! When the clerk there saw the rates had taken my breath away, she was kind enough to send me off to Federal Express ( and DHL ( to make comparisons. Federal Express has several locations around town, the closest one was just up the street at number 111-115 rue Réaumur inside the “Newworks” offices.

The very pleasant clerk laughed when I told him the UPS prices and didn’t hesitate to tell me that FedEx would cost 225€ for the same package. Now my heart is beating rapidly as what was supposed to be a quick errand turns into an expensive excursion. Last stop before giving up hope — DHL. It’s not far away at 6, rue des Colonnes near the Bourse. They calculated the 3-kilogram package at 146€.

A few minutes later, completing two forms for each package and handing over my credit card for a whopping charge of 354€ to send four photo albums in three packages (two to India, one to the U.S.) with a total weight of 6.5 kilograms, the task was completed and my wallet depleted.

The moral of the story…a plane ticket could have been cheaper. Hand carry the goods in your suitcase!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Don’t miss the Early Bird Special for the Ultimate Travel Writer’s and Ultimate Travel Photographer’s Workshop, May 16 – 19 in Paris. Book by April 23 and save $300! Scroll down for details.

P.P.S. Join us for Parler Parlor this Saturday, 10:30 a.m. at our temporary Saturday location, La Croissanterie, 168 boulevard St Germain, between the garden of the Eglise St germain des Prés and passage de la Petite Boucherie next to La Rhumerie.


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