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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shopping in Paris: A Shallow and Boring Post

Miss Em told me that we should have two email threads: one for travel/art and one for shallow concerns. This is a shallow post: shopping in Paris, summer 2015. We were also in Berlin and Amsterdam, but did not buy anything other than food and drink.

I had prepared for shopping in Paris by looking at the Monoprix site. I was--sort of--interested in some slouchy pants (Eileen Fisher type, 20 euros) and some knit linen pieces (also Eileen Fisher-esque, 20-25 euros). I was planning to wait for the sales near the end of my stay.

Shopping was jumpstarted, however: after a stressful delay and dash for our connection at JFK, we made it...but our luggage did not. AirFrance offered us 100 euros per person for necessities. Of course, this involved saving receipts and sending in paperwork after return.

Wearing our scuzzy clothing for a day after arrival (luggage showed up after 3 days) encouraged us to take up the offer, even though I tend to distrust such offers, having been burned many times before. In we went to Monoprix where we each spent a hundred euros: Mr FS on some jeans and a linen shirt and a hairbrush and me on the slouchy pants and some linen pieces.  We still haven't gotten the money back (though it is supposedly en route, after many hours on the phone...usual bureaucracies).

Two weeks later, les soldes began and everything we bought was 1/2 off. So I bought ANOTHER pair of slouchy pants and some scarves. Miss Em arrived and we bought her some things too. She's been in Serbia longer than anticipated and her clothing is in rags.

Our only other shopping was at a nearby market (rue de la Convention--not a fancy area). We got Miss Em a vegan bag  for 35 euros (how I hate that term) that closely approximated a leather bag she saw in Vienna that was 300 euros. The seller was the quintessential French man. He said to Miss Em (add heavy accent) "I would like to give you a kiss. Not a French kiss, because your parents are there." 

At the same market was a vendor where there were a zillion people. Miss Em and I investigated: Spanx! Miss Em and I joined the fray and got some bras for 10 euros (not sexy ones, comfy ones).

Then we started a fray of our own. In a big vat of assorted tee shirts (2 for 5 euros!), I spied a Majestic tee (these sell for around 90 euros). I started searching. A French woman behind me saw what I had and said to her companion: "Majestic!" Then they started frantically searching. Suddenly, we were surrounded.

Mr FS asked Miss Em what was going on. She said proudly "Mama started it." Miss Em decided she didn't like the Majestic so we put them back. 

I had a nice chat with two women at the market. The first was French: she practiced her English; I practiced my French. I asked her if one could bargain at the market. She said non. Then I spoke to a French-American woman who seemed to be a Spanx addict. She had an extremely-plastic-surgeried face, a rare sight in Paris--at least at the places I go. She also said that one could not bargain at the markets.

I had a nice encounter with the Spanx-guy. He was unsure if I knew the difference between HAUT (tops--10 euros) and BAS (bottoms--8 euros). He asked me in French and English. Then I said in my perfect English: "My English is better than my French." I followed with the same sentence in my faulty French and received many compliments.

Since the exchange rate was so good I did take a look at Longchamp le pliage bags (78 euros vs $150 back home, even cheaper on the ugly summer sale colors) but decided to get a lower cost per wear on the one I already own.

That's it! There are ecstatic posts all over the internet on how cheap Hermes and other luxury brands are for US travelers now. Still, the thought of schlepping back a bunch of stuff gives me pause. I find shopping abroad a stressful activity in any case. Besides, I always want to start saving for the one really big ticket item on my list: plane fare for the next trip.

Do you shop when you travel?


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this post! Especially the "shopping culture" you experienced. I like shopping when I travel; I like to buy things I was looking for anyway at home (such as clothes or bags) but I can get different brands and styles when I travel. I used to buy CDs and DVDs, again a different selection than found at home, but physical formats other than pricey vinyl are becoming obsolete! I do buy earrings in most cities I visit, though.

Unknown said...

Would love to travel to the soldes now with the fantastic exchange rate! The souvenirs I buy these days tend to come from grocery stores & drug stores - the 1 euro Monoprix nylon shopping bag is a favorite for me and my husband! I'll buy hand lotion and lip balm (currently, at my desk in NC using "dermophil stick anti-age, soin expert levres", purchased at Monoprix as well ;-) Also like to get things like spice blends when I travel - easy to pack and they're things I'll actually use once I get home!

babette said...

No, I do not shop for clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, etc. I did purchase some beautiful prints of places we visited. I loved sightseeing and meeting people. I loved simple meals. We did not spend mor than $50.00 for two at any one sitting. We did have a nice room at a 3 star hotel and we did use taxis most of the time. I am saving my money to go again and will purchase my travel wardrobe here again.

Frugal Scholar said...

@exacting--I feel the lure of shopping when I travel, but find it stressful. I like how you have a system: earrings, etc.
@Unknown--Those Monoprix bags are great! My daughter gave those as gifts. Spice blends--a friend brught me a couscous blend--much appreciated.
@babette--Love the print idea. Those restos are hard to find--any tips?