Last chance to fill up before….

I moved to France just over two years ago.  Travelling between home and the UK regularly to see friends and family means I look at France with fresh eyes and I am able to see areas where things are similar to the UK and where they’re are different.  Despite this I never expected to be taking pictures of petrol stations.

In the UK, in the period before I departed from its shores, there was a move for supermarket operators like Tesco, Sainsbury and others to open local, almost corner shops.  Some of these were done as shops on garage forecourts.  As well as being handy for the people who live nearby (When in Hull last Summer our local shop was at the local garage, as well as being the local off-licence) they also mean that it pays for the owners of the garage to have staff on the site most, if not all, of the time.  In Hull the garage, petrol or filling station was open 24 hours.

Here in France things seem to have been going the other way.  Garages, petrol or filling stations, I think I’ll stick with the latter, have been going staff free and relying upon the customer having a card to pay for their fuel.  I think I remember reading a statistic that something like a third of French filling stations now are staff free and require payment by card.  The first picture above shows the forecourt of a filling station near somewhere I work with people filling up.  The second shows someone doing just that and the third shows the pump.  It is interesting that, while the UK is moving to more of a watched society with technology doing most of the watching it has found a way to maintain a human being on the forecourt of filling stations and also turned them into a resource for the community,  I recognise they have not done this for altruistic reasons but think they can make a profit doing it.  France, a country which has not deployed observation technology has moved towards having technology replace people on the forecourt of the filling stations and not developed them as mini-supermarkets for the local community.  The filling station pictured above is opposite a large housing area and backs onto a large industrial estate so would have the residents nearby to support a shop but it is also opposite a local shop which I guess is glad that a branch of the co-op Leclerc, Carrefour  or other national chain has not opened a supermarket on the site.

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