10. Just a trip to the supermarket!

One of our responsibilities is to carry out the weekly shop, alternating each week with two of the other housekeepers. We buy the fresh items for the welcome pack and restock any longer-life foodstuffs, as well as ensuring we all have sufficient non-food products. This is for the five self-catered chalets; the third team of two, who look after one chalet, don’t get involved but are the recipients of what is rapidly becoming the biggest single shopping list. In addition we collect and buy any groceries which the guests have asked for in advance so that they don’t need to shop whilst on holiday (which has only been for this fifth chalet so far, but each week.)
Moutiers, at the bottom of the hill, houses the nearest main supermarkets. They are considerably more reasonable than their smaller counterparts in any of the resorts where the prices increase with altitude. Sue and Pete had taken us to the town to the large Casino during our first week and gave us a little tour of the streets afterwards. It is more functional than pretty, with some local industry to provide jobs, despite nestling between the snow capped mountains.

We had been shopping twice in our second week. First, as a team on the Tuesday for the non-perishable items and then Roger and I had to go back again on the Friday to obtain the fresh stuff which hadn’t taken too long despite the shop being packed. We intended to take a little detour to Carrefour to purchase some cheaper items for ourselves, including the rather nice fizz we have discovered in resort, which cost almost 25% less in the valley. However, one of the admin assistants decided she needed to drive us (and do her own shopping) so we didn’t feel we could ask her to go to a different shop as well. That Friday morning we were met with a heaving mass of seasonal staff, all doing their weekly shop in advance of the weekend’s influx of guests. In addition to the fresh items for the five chalets I had been provided with my first shopping list for the incoming guests in the fifth chalet and found the experience quite strange, trying to shop for someone else’s tastes, but managed, apart from bacon.
We did ascertain that Friday morning was not a good time to go as the aisles were so congested and, despite continual restocking, the staff couldn’t keep up with demand. The Ops manager suggested we go in an evening and even have a drink or meal in the uninspiring town. We passed on this latter suggestion but thought that evenings may be the best time to go, although Friday evening was cutting it fine if there were any hitches, so plumped for Thursday.

Thursday afternoon I tried to determine which of the hourly buses we needed to catch across to La Tania to pick up a van to take down to Moutiers. This was determined by the amount of additional shopping required, over and above the basic fresh items. There was a sudden burst of activity on our WhatsApp group stating that there was some additional guest shopping for the 5th chalet but I couldn’t ascertain how much. I was informed that I should know as the list was attached to the itinerary (for the fifth chalet when we don’t even read the ones for the third and fourth.) I hadn’t looked as my phone takes ages to download attachments and all 13 chalets are attached to the email, and that’s before I can even open ours. My phone is clogged up with all the work related activity and photos so now doesn’t even work properly for my personal use! Roger checked through the itineraries again, including the fifth chalet, and only found reference to a list which was attached to another email, which we didn’t have.
I finally got the answer that it was an extensive list which would be left in the Man Cave in La Tania to pick up with the van, so opted for the 4.10 bus from 1650 (sixteen-fifty). At 4.30 we were still stood at the bus stop waiting for the bus, any bus, they all come through here first. Deciding to get on the next bus and make our way in stages to LT we were about to alight the next bus to appear, which would take us all of about a mile down the road, when we spotted Gordon, one of our drivers in a company van behind it. Unfortunately he signalled that he couldn’t fit us in so we jumped on the ski bus and off again shortly after at Aquamotion, the spa/pool/ eating experience. Here we bumped into 2 of our chalet host colleagues from La Tania. Their guests were in the van/minibus and Gordon would come back and pick us all up once he’d dropped them off.
The LT bus rolled up 40 minutes late, ram-packed to the gunnels. There was little chance of us squeezing in and Gordon would be back for us soon after, so we decided to wait for him. 10 minutes later he messaged to say that he’d another guest pick up to do so couldn’t get us yet. ‘The next bus to LT is in 10 minutes’ said Criag. No, the ‘next’ bus still had 50 minutes of a round trip before it would be back at this stop, heading in the right direction. A taxi was deemed the best option. Not again, we thought, in silent stereo. But these were rather elusive or full of abandoned skiers from higher up the hill. Roger and I finally decided to abandon the trip and took the next bus back up to 1650. We waved at Gordon as he drove past with another minibus full of guests and arrived in our room an hour and a half later, having got absolutely nowhere. I sent off a quick message saying that due to a completely unreliable bus service we needed to be picked up the following afternoon to do the shopping. At least if we were sat in a van we could refuse to get out, or refuse to do the essential shopping, but either way were not going to depend on the useless bus service for work.

So we ended up going on Friday afternoon, as originally scheduled. Dave, another of our drivers, picked us up at 2.30, as arranged and wanted to drop off some laundry at The Attic on the way. He hadn’t been there before so we stopped off to show him the location of the key safe (3rd floor) and the store room (basement). He had a van ready for us in La Praz, where the road forks for La Tania and down to Moutiers, which would have been very convenient, except the guest shopping list was in the man cave in La Tania. Whilst we picked up said list his phone rung to say that guests needed collecting from the slopes. We were taken back around the LT one-way system to meet Emily, so that he could go for the guests. Swapping into her van we set off to La Praz, except she went the wrong way and we had to negotiate around the one-way system again before going to La Praz and collecting the van which we were to use.
A 15 minute trip had turned into 45 minutes and it was 3.30 before we drove past the SuperU, our destination for the shopping. But we were going to Carrefour to do our own shopping first as they stocked the fizz we wanted and were reputed to be slightly cheaper. We pulled up back at SuperU at 4.30 and bumped into the ops manager who sniggered at whose shopping list I was clutching. This owner is notorious, not only for long shopping lists but for them being in no particular order.
Roger did the shop for our 2 chalets whilst I set off to start the guest shop. Sometime later I spotted him heading for the checkout and asked him to come back with an empty trolley as I had filled the first and was still on the front page of the list. By the time he returned I could hardly move my trolley it was so heavy with beer, waters, cokes, etc so we parked it by the freezer cabinet. It took a further hour to try to hunt down every item on the list but failed on 4 and had to determine replacements for several others, after scouring the store. The specifications were more like a Sainsbury’s list which just aren’t stocked in France. Finally we packed €300 of groceries through the checkout and loaded into the van then went back in to do the other 3 chalet shops, including a vacuum cleaner.
Eventually we emerged at 7.30 to loads of WhatsApp messages, beginning at 5.10, about what time we’d be back. The store room we were supposed to leave the shopping in for LT had been confiscated so it was to be left in our store in 1650. However, that wasn’t very convenient for other people so they wanted us to deliver directly to them in LT so were waiting for us. Well the fifth chalet person (supervisor) had already delegated that task as they were too busy to wait in. Although being the only person who knew the size of the list, she would have been aware of how long it was likely to take us, in an unfamiliar supermarket.
Roger set off very gingerly up the twisty road, trying to ensure that our own shopping, which was separate but not sufficient to be wedged in, didn’t fall over. In LT all the 5th chalet shopping was transfered into the back of the boss’s truck and filled the flatbed area. I gave Pete his 3 bags and we drove back to LP where the boss left his van and came with us to 1650 to drop off our chalet shopping at the store, where it all could have been left, and then on to our flat. As we unloaded he couldn’t help commenting about the number of bottles of wine (there were only 8, for 2 weeks.) We fell into the flat at 8.30 and tried to find homes for the contents of 4 large carrier bags before starting to cook tea.
Hope its not going to be like that each time!

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2 Responses to 10. Just a trip to the supermarket!

  1. Tim says:

    Ah ! Good to see you back on the blog. All sounds a bit of a challenge but nothing you’re not up for. Hope you get some good snow soon, judging from what our forecasts are, I would have thought you’d be well snowed in by now. We’ve been bracing for the arctic vortex thing since the beginning of November, its actually been quite warm. Xmas and New Year sped past mainly due to Mum braking her hip before xmas, but now on the mend so sighs of relief all round. Have a great New Year. All the best xxx

    • Gill Smith says:

      Good to hear from you but sorry about your mum. Hope her rehabilitation continues smoothly, under Theresa’s close supervision xx

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