It doesn’t stock electrical appliances, but the shop is not a tomb. Everything on sale has purpose to it: plumbing, carpentry, wiring, lighting, cooking, washing or shooting. You feel a little incompetent when you see what you might do. Over two floors the shop seems to have everything: saucepans, brooms, towels, frying pans, soaps, pots, knives, saws, wood shavers, light brackets, brushes, hot-water bottles, shoe horns, steel toe-caps, eau de cologne, dusters, wooden spoons, and many objects whose purpose I wouldn’t be able to guess. The shop has 150,000 different items for sale; the inventory isn’t computerised and there’s no heating and no air-conditioning. No one room is the same as any other, each is packed with customers, the staff wear blue jackets – bleus de travail – receipts are handwritten, whatever you buy will be wrapped in brown paper.