April 18, 2012
My first thought was to get them from UK as I 'know' from the scuttelbut that glasses are really expensive in France so I called the branch of Specsavers where I got the last pair. They were very helpful and confirmed that I was on their books and that they had the precription for my wife, Diane, ...but not mine! Right, so I called around a few Opthalmologists discounting the ones who couldn't see me this year and found one in Bagnere de Bigorre who could but only just. I threw myself on the mercy of the receptionist explaining the sorry state of my glasses and that it was urgent as I needed them for work. She melted and gave me an appointment four days later. Result! The problem is that France has a population of nearly 70 million but only 5400 Opthalmologists so they are not exactly thick on the ground especially in rural areas. When I arrived for the appointment it is easy to see why there are loads of opticians and very few Opthalmoligists as they clearly don't get paid much judging by the premises. That said he was very good and very helpful. He must have first trained as a doctor, though as his writing was awful, even the receptionist couldn't read it.
No worries. Armed with my shiny new prescription I headed for the scanner and emailed the result to Specsavers. Problem, they emailed me back saying they wanted it in a British format, I tried explaining that that would take until shortly before hell froze over, but they wouldn't budge.
I reluctantly went to an optician in Lannemezan to discover that one pair of signle vision lenses with an ok frame was going to set me back 285 euros. Ouch!! Fortunately I was speaking to a customer at Boulogne and he said that his friend, over from australia, had broken his glasses and that the optician near McDonalds at Lannemezan had done them very quickly and they were not expensive. So, off to Lanny. There I met a really nice guy called Thomas who not only was very helpful but also spoke brilliant english. They advised and fitted and made the glasses in five days and including a pair of prescription sunglasses it was less than 180 euros and after the payment from the medical cover I paid just 109 euros - less than I would have paid in UK.
So another myth, that of exhorbitantly expensive glasses in France has been exploded, just get down to any of the General D'Optique stores around france and ask about 'The One' deal.