The French Post Offices is known as La Poste and are easy to find with bright yellow signs on the outside. Mailboxes and post vans are also the same bright color.
French Post Offices and the Postal System Guide
The official La Poste website is available in English and contains information on mailing letters, parcels, banking with La Poste, mail forwarding, mail holding, and online services.
The La Poste site contains a useful Q&A section in English.
Most post offices are open from 8 am to 5 pm, however, many are closed for lunch between 12 pm and 2 pm. In smaller towns or rural areas, many also close on Mondays or only open for a few hours a day.
All post offices have counters from which you can obtain all of the La Poste services and most have an ‘Affranchisement’ which is an automated stamp machine. This allows you to buy postage in a choice of languages, weigh your letter and the print out a stamp. However please note that the Affranchissments only accept coins and notes. Stamps can also be brought from a ‘Tabac’. Stamps are purchased singularly, in books of 12 or in rolls of 500.
There are two types of stamps for the regular post within France. Both are printed with the face of Marianne, the personification of the Republic of France;
- Timbre Rouge (red) – used for the quickest delivery which is usually one to two days
- Timbre Vert (green) – used for slightly slower service which is generally two to three days
- There is also a non-priority service which takes around three to five days
A Timbre Bleu (blue) stamp is used to send letters within the EU.
Tracking Mail and Parcels – French Post Offices and the Postal System
Letters can be tracked internationally through the Chronopost service and parcels through the Colissimo service.
Recorded delivery service is available for delivery to the UK, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. The service uses a system of pre-paid envelopes with weight limits of either 100g or 500g.
For a recorded delivery service with a receipt on delivery us the Lettre Recommandée Avec Accusé de Réception or AR. A confirmation receipt will be received by the sender, or confirmation of delivery can be obtained online. Delivery times are usually one to two days and the service is suitable for letters weighing up to 3kg and 22cm by 11cm in size.
A similar service can be used for sending electronic documents in formats such as Word and PDF via the La Poste website. At the same time as an electronic document is sent through the website, the recipient will receive a printed, hard copy of the document sent by La Poste. A confirmation receipt can be sent to the sender via regular post or electronically. Documents sent this way will be postmarked at the moment it is electronically sent to La Poste and can be sent from anywhere in the world but considered to be sent within France. The price depends on the number of pages sent.
Pret a Recommender Suivi is an integrated letter and envelope with a pre-paid recorded delivery and tracking service.
If you need to show when an item was sent then you can use Distingo Suivi which records when an item was actually sent. However, with this service, there is no record of delivery or guaranteed time of delivery.
Mail Forwarding – French Post Offices and the Postal System
You can request that all mail is forwarded to a new address. Please note that there is a fee for this service and you will need to request the service at least 5 days before you require it to start. This service can be used for up to 6 months for addresses in France and for up to 3 months for addresses outside of France.
Alternatively, the Pack Ma Nouvelle will notify individuals and businesses of your new address via postcard, text or email.
Mail Holding – French Post Offices and the Postal System
La Poste can hold mail for a fixed period through a service called Garde du courrier. Please note that there is a fee for this service and you will need to request the service at least 5 days before you require it to start.