It’s difficult, in short.
If you rent an apartment here, it isn’t nearly as easy to receive pages as it is back home. The post office leaves you a note (or your landlord a note), and you have to make an appointment to go pick it up. Also don’t count on actually getting your package. My family sent me a very small package (8″x10″ envelope) on July 26th, and it still hasn’t arrived. I’m assuming it’s lost forever. Don’t know if the foul-up was with the French postal service or the US postal service. Could easily be either.
Got a quote for sending some stuff to the apartment here before I left via UPS. A 10-pound package was $250. Going to the French post office tomorrow. Supposedly they have prepaid packages that you can ship stuff internationally in. If it seems like a valid option, I’ll report back.
I’d carry everything on the plane with you that you can, same as back home. Still think you have a better shot of it getting back home in your checked luggage than with the post office, assuming nobody steals it out of your luggage at the airport. You’d think with all the spying the NSA is doing, they’d be able to catch the airport thieves, sheesh!
UPDATE: Went to the French post office. Those prepaid boxes are not that big for the money. For about $50 American you can get one that’s a little bigger than a shoe box. And for about $65 American, there’s one that’s about the size of a hat box. But you can check a whole extra big suitcase at Delta for $100, and it’s $80 if your bag is overweight. So pack a lightweight duffel in your suitcase to give yourself the option. Me, I’m just going to pay the Delta fee if my bag is overweight.
And no, the package from my family never ever arrived. Guess somebody at the post office is enjoying my photo filter and the pics my nieces and nephews drew for me.