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?