Beki Grinter

Shopping in France

In European Union, France on December 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

Just proving that this blog is a mixture, this is my recommendations for shopping in France.

  1. The sales in France are serious, there are two one in January and the other in July. That said, I found in Metz (dunno about Paris) that there were several other sales too. I signed up for some information about a particular shoe vendor, and when they were having a sale, frequently so were other places. Including Galleries Lafayette.
  2. Galleries Lafayette is well worth the experience, especially in Paris where the store is amazing. But it’s expensive, really expensive. It’s just the stuff you imagine French women (and men) wearing, but you leave with the impression that the French are well off … the sales are a must here then. I got cashmere for 30 euros, and a wool skirt for 15 for example. I also got a beautiful silk scarf (with a bizarre unnecessary tassel — which I promptly removed) for 10 euros and a pair of suede boots for 20. Bargain time.
  3. Shoes. I have to say I think the French know shoes, but especially boots. They are a nation of boot wearers and I can see why. I recommend Minnelli, JB Martin, San Marina. All very good stuff.
  4. Carroll make beautiful clothes, I wish I could afford more of them.
  5. M&S brand, not to be confused by the British for Marks and Sparks, are a discount retailer. Hunting through the racks I found a few gems, wool skirts, but it’s very hit and miss. The good thing is that when you find something it’s cheap. And in France, and with the euro to dollar exchange rate that makes a good difference.
  6. Auchan seems to own: Simply Markets, Cora, as well as Auchan. This makes it harder in Metz to get away from their suppliers and preferred brands than you might imagine. Not really sure what to do about that… we did not shop at the Intermarche.
  7. At Cora we recommend Patrimoine Gourmand. It’s their food heritage series and it’s pretty good. You pay a little extra, but not much (all food is more expensive, but the quality is better). This seems especially true of Patrimoine Gourmand. We did not find anything we didn’t like. For example, their Cassoulet in a can is reasonable, and I’ve heard mixed reports about canned Cassoulet.
  8. The key phrase for window shopping is “I am looking only” which translates into something that resembles browsing. Other phrases and words I found useful were my shoe size, to try (essayer I think, which is also the word for changing rooms).
  9. Greetings. I’ve mentioned this before: the French seem to be really into greetings. So, if you see someone say hello. It’s especially important in small shops. But also I found it useful at check out in the hypermarket. Greet the cashier.
  10. Goodbyes. Thank you and goodbye is essential if you don’t want to never be able to shop there again (well smaller shops I think). No of course you can, but it goes better if you do the complete exchange for leaving. I think it especially matters in stores like Galleries Lafayette, where there are a) a lot of people to help you (which for me meant a lot of opportunities to have French exchanges that for some time were pretty bumpy, but after I’d shopped enough progressed to useful things like being able to ask whether that cashmere sweater was really in the 10 euro bucket, no sadly it was not). Also, they, like their cashier friends at Cora also don’t want to be “shop assistants” — I think it was Napoleon who said that Britain was a nation of shopkeepers — so engaging them in conversation, particularly one that makes them your equal is useful.

I think that’s about it. I’m going to miss shopping in France. I was just getting to the point where it was flowing… and for me that’s really good because sometimes I use shopping as an escape from the world of academia.


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