Lily of the valley from May 1st is a tradition to which the French are attached. But, confinement requires, it will be complicated to find the little white bells this year. "We are not going to do anything, street sales will be completely prohibited, florists will not open because the stores will be closed", assured, a few days ago, the Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume , on Europe 1. Complicated therefore… but not impossible! The profession is organized and, according to our information, half of the 14,000 florists in France will still be on deck Friday to sell lily of the valley.
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A "click & collect" service for flowers
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, florists are expected to keep the curtain down because they are not included in the list of essential businesses. But for the past few days, some have resumed work, without opening their shop. "I wanted to be able to sell flowers for funeral services or just to put a little joy in people's lives," says Christian, a florist in Paris.
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To respect social distancing, it has set up a take-away sales system, in the form of "click & collect". "Local residents order by phone or on the site, they pay online if possible and they come to collect their flowers in front of the shop. Nobody comes inside," he said. For May 1st, "all the people who know us have already ordered their lily of the valley", adds Christian.
Selling on your doorstep? Some will take the risk
But not all florists can afford to set up such a device. Many will therefore partner, especially for May 1, with early vegetables, bakeries or tobacco shops to sell their lily of the valley through them. Exceptional points of sale that have been validated by the government, on the condition of respecting the barrier gestures and the rules of social distancing each time.
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Next door, the florists had asked to be able to sell lily of the valley on the doorstep. Request rejected by the government. A situation "ubuesque", denounces Florent Moreau, president of the Federation of flower artisans. Especially since some are ready to defy the ban. "The purchase of lily of the valley is a spontaneous gesture, it is a popular tradition. So we have, in places, florists who will take the risk of setting up a small stall in front of their shop", specifies Florent Moreau. "We don't encourage this practice but we can understand it."
The 4th most important day of the year
Whether it is legal or not, to sell thrush, you still have to have it. "I had a lot of trouble getting my supplies. Rungis is closed, some producers have sold off their stocks which left very quickly, others, especially in the Nantes region, have stopped producing lily of the valley to limit their losses And the Netherlands is inaccessible because of the confinement, "explains Christian, the Parisian florist. Thanks to a producer from Seine-et-Marne, found at the last moment, it will be well open on Friday to fulfill orders.
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For him, as for all the florists who will work on Friday, the sale of lily of the valley is a breath of fresh air after two months of inactivity. "After Mother's Day, Christmas and Valentine's Day, May 1 is the 4th most important day of the year for us," says Florent Moreau. On May 1, a sprig of thrush in three is sold by a florist. On this single day, they normally generate seven million euros in turnover.