Come the revolution, folk will flee their homes and the streets will become urban battlegrounds. However, amongst the chaos, rest assured that French hairdressers, butchers, bakers and grocers will be the last women (& occasionally men) standing. They care not for the laws of commerce, rationality nor time, so a little random violence and the end of civilisation as we know it will be but a minor irritation.
Witness Monpazier, home to only 1500 or so souls, yet blessed with 4 coiffeuses, 2 butchers, 3 boulangeries and two general stores. Given there’s only so many blue rinses and short back and sides to go around – and so many stomachs to fill - that all these businesses (who have identical opening hours) survive is a miracle. Especially the salons where, fun though it is to catch up on all the local gossip, the briefest of trims can take an eternity and yet cost only a handful of Euros. And all of this in a pretty bastide, where business rates are high and it’s only a short drive to two supermarkets.
Travel through any small French town, and you’ll see this parallel commercial universe repeated time and again – small family businesses apparently bucking the trend and happily oblivious to the need for paying customers. And they’ve always time to chat, enquire of the family (so they can keep everyone else up to date) and – once they know you – give you credit. So as long as your livelihood isn’t dependent on their takings, you can revel in the old fashioned delights of parking directly outside where you want to shop and being served by someone who knows your name.
All of which has to be preferable to schlepping around your local ‘super low pound bashing cost cutter’ and avoiding the puddles of tramp wee in the aisles.