In La Jonquera, Spain, the French are disappointed by the price increase

From our special correspondent in La Jonquera,

The Frenchman has this characteristic of being quickly identified regardless of the country he is in. He looks for the person who expresses his emotions out loud – making it clear to everyone – and you are rarely wrong about his nationality. Demonstration in La Jonquera (Spain), where the French are therefore easily identifiable – and audible: we hear them groaning in every aisle of the local supermarkets. The loudest of them, Bertrand, 40 years old and with a shy look like the language, speaks on behalf of the group: “We did 200 kilometers, and why? For prices similar to France. If he had known, he wouldn’t have come.

In his defense, we rarely drive to La Jonquera for the local culture. A large main street and packed shops on each side, like an open-air Duty Free or uninhibited Far West capitalist. The place has nothing to offer other than supermarkets, shops, all-you-can-eat buffets, sex shops and some hotels for the few who stay there. Usually the stay lasts only a few hours, the time to fill the trunk. Bastien, who made the journey from Perpignan, about fifty kilometers away, recounts the blessed time, a few years ago, in which La Jonquera looked like Ali Baba’s cave: “We didn’t even look at the prices, we put directly in the We knew it was profitable and cheaper than in France “.

Travel at the end of the price

A bygone era, they deplore the many Frenchmen present at the beginning of November. Because the places continue to attract many tourists. La Jonquera doesn’t even pretend: half of the signs are written exclusively in French, the cashiers are all bilingual and they answer you friendly “Bonjour” to your uncertain “Ola señora”. Only now do visitors leave disappointed. Inflation also crossed the Pyrenees, settling at 7.3% in one year, or 1.1 points higher than in France. “Now you have to calculate everything well, check that it is cheaper than in the countryside. And when it is, the difference is often minimal and not worth the trip, ”observes Bastien bitterly:“ For me it’s still fine, I’m 50 kilometers away. But some come from much further away … “

La Jonquera supermarkets still attract many French, but leave more disappointed than before – JLD

Bertrand made the journey from Montpellier, where he was staying on vacation. “We said to each other ‘even if it means being in the south, we might as well do business in Spain’. But after exploring all the shops in the city, he and his band are disappointed:” There are no good prices, they complain that they left. a business that mixes DIY and clothing. Apart from alcohol and tobacco, you could also stay in France. Bertrand adds: “And more alcohol … Pastis costs only 3 euros less”.

Alcohol and tobacco, safe bets

For once, the Breton is strict. We haven’t checked the price of Ricard, but if there’s one area where La Jonquera remains queen, it’s alcohol. A liter of Absolute vodka at 19.8 euros against 26.7 in France, Poliakov at 8.49 euros against 16.3, rum at 9.65 euros, or Campbell whiskey at 11.49 euros against 19.89 in Italy , we do not throw anymore. “You won’t find better alcohol for alcohol,” boasts Sylvia, one of the cashiers. Plus, customers aren’t wrong, and it’s rare to see a Frenchman leave without at least one bottle. “

Even a good twenty-year-old, like in Mélanie’s shopping bag, 24, innocence in the eyes and resistance in the liver. A student at the University of Perpignan, she too came with her backpack to ransack the department: “We come around every two months to fill up. Apart from going to the Czech Republic, but that would make the trip expensive, we couldn’t find a better plan ”, she smiles in front of her friends.

For particularly thirsty students, alcohol remains reason enough to travel to La Jonquera
For particularly thirsty students, alcohol remains reason enough to travel to La Jonquera – JLD

Because many of us come here, and not just to spend time on the highway. At the border, safe checks are not uncommon and strong alcohol is limited to 10 liters per person and not per vehicle. But the students themselves admit, the advantage is less clear than before: “In the first year, vodka cost less than $ 5!” remembers Mélanie, validated by nostalgic hints around her. We also came to do the shopping. Now we are happy with the herbal tea. “

“I didn’t do 200 kilometers for the olives”

Here, too, on the food side, a little leniency is needed. M.But better to buy local: you will find fuet, the famous Catalan sausage, or olives stuffed with anchovies twice as cheap as in France. “You are very kind, but I didn’t travel 200 kilometers for the olives,” Bertrand grumbles again.

Here, do not hesitate to consume very large
Here, do not hesitate to consume very large – JLD

It remains to be inspired by the races of others to understand how to limit the damage. And the plan is simple: buy (very) big. A special tenderness for this 900 milliliter Head & Shoulders shampoo, this 4.95 liter Ariel bottle, this 7 kg detergent or this 5 liter bottle of olive oil. But even taking us for Gulliver, the margin is not so incredible: “We always come to La Jonquera, but it allows us to save a few euros instead of a hundred coupons before, and it requires more contortions”, regrets Catherine, who struggles to carry her huge purchases at the cash register belt. The sixty-year-old, accustomed to the place, wisely makes the same observation as everyone else: the destination has lost its charm. In one ward, a Frenchman is indignant, shouting: “It’s a theft” …

Is La Jonquera in danger?

After much effort, Bertrand and his gang have finally found something to make the trip profitable, but the mood remains bad. “It took us hours and barely refunds the gas and the toll”, the square blows in a sigh to make the north wind pale. The chest is full of trinkets not necessarily useful, but profitable, therefore. “It was a mistake”, definitely regrets Bertrand, who would have spent his last Friday of vacation by the sea.

Sylvia observes: “Between the rise in our prices and that of gasoline, the French are failing. Fewer people, fewer purchases, less income. To the point that La Jonquera closes its shops and sinks into crisis? The latter threatens, but Catherine wants to be rational: “Yes, we get away with only a few euros of difference. Only, with this inflation, a few euros can be enough reason to travel. “

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