OPINION: In France check out the check-out

COMMENT BY ANN RICKARD: FOR the past few months I've been shopping in French supermarkets.

In France. Where I go every year. A place I love very much. Even though I get vexed doing the shopping.

The first foray into the supermarket each year is exciting, all that beautiful French food and enticing French products displayed under one tempting roof.

But while French supermarkets maybe pretty, they are problematic for the foreigner.

I'm not dwelling on the difficulty of reading labels - that's our fault for not practising our French - but it is super annoying when you arrive home with your shopping to find the washing powder you bought turns out to be pool chlorine.

As for forgetting to take le sac with you on every supermarket visit, well that's beyond frustrating even if it is your fault.

The French do not do plastic bags (a good thing) but if you forget le sac, (which we do on every visit) you have to carry all items to the car in your arms.

French supermarket personnel sit down at their check-out stations, do not like to get up, do not believe in efficiency of movements, and do not pack your goods. .

Queues can grow so long they are almost back to the produce department at the back, yet the staff remains unruffled, agonisingly slow.

Our biggest frustration came the day we found a check-out queue that wasn't 10 kilometres long, rejoiced with a little skip, and lined up gleefully with our trolley.

Just as it came to our turn, a feisty old bloke with a walking stick and a loaded trolley came behind us, poked his stick in our backs, pushed past us and began to put his goods on the belt.

We were about to politely tell him to pee off but the check-out lady, shifted ever-so slightly in her chair and lazily pointed to a sign above our heads we hadn't noticed - cartoon figures of old people and pregnant ladies.

The French have a separate supermarket queue for the old and the pregnant. Really. They do.

Seeing as I could qualify for both if we were just going by appearances and forgetting logic, I contemplated challenging the old bloke by poking him in the back with my big belly.

But instead I silently cursed, waited my turn, and then carried out my shopping in my arms.