Shopping Madness

Reviewed on 01/11/2011 | No Reviews

My Concierge Told Me

No summer, but summer sales

Which is the most important day in the life of a Parisian? Her wedding day? The day she moves in her new apartment? Wrong. The most important day is called “les soldes”, the sales.

Photo: © Illustration: Cecile Trémolières

It happens twice a year which means it really affects her. Usually, she can’t sleep for a few nights before. She torments herself a to whether she should go for the suede Christian Louboutin pumps she has been dreaming of forever or the very red and very skinny leather cropped pants by Isabelle Marant – oops, that was last year, but she is still fantasizing about it. It’s a real hard choice. It’s torture. And a pleasure, too.

There has been no summer yet. But summer sales start tomorrow morning. So you better get yourself prepared. It’s quite a spectacle. Before living in Paris, I didn’t know that the word “sale” could provoke such a fever. In the meantime, I’ve to admit, I’m part of the troop.

Move slowly and show your poker face

Red and skinny leather bikers by Isabel Marant? Oops, that was last year!

On Avenue Montaigne, where the most exclusive boutiques are lined up, you will see young ladies (and those pretending to be younger than they are) queueing up in front of Christian Dior, Chanel, Gucci and Prada. Tall black men looking like Cerberus are the doorkeepers of shopping paradise – they divide the flock into manageable groups.  Once inside, you have to hide the thrill and pretend to be cool: show your poker face, move slowly, don’t tear the must-have from the hands of your sisters-in-arms.

Actually, nothing will be normal tomorrow. Prices are reduced by half. Or will at least be 30 percent down. This doesn’t mean that things will be, well, cheap. The beautiful Chanel coat may go down to, say, 3325 Euros. That’s not what you can call a true bargain. But it might be a thrilling option for the ambassador’s wife whose limousine is parked outside with a liveried chauffeur waiting behind the wheel.

The shopping paradise

A lot of tourists come to Paris just for the sales. They come from China or Germany, Italy or Bolivia. In other words: the sales do have an important economic impact on Paris. Otherwise, why would the Convention and Visitors Bureau create Soldes by Paris with a proper website, a shopping address book, seven “handpicked shopping itineraries” and an Iphone application for free to help tourists spend their money?

When it comes to shopping, Paris is always on the move. Hermès has transformed a huge former swimming pool on Left Bank into an impressive shop (see our article on Mad about Paris). Not far away in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Ralph Lauren has opened a flagship store in a historic townhouse. And recently, two other American brands, Tommy Hilfiger and Abercrombie & Fitch, have opened stores on the Champs-Elysées. Not forgetting the famous concept store L’Eclaireur in the Marais and L’Hôtel Particulier Montorgeuil district. If you’re mad about shoes, head directly to the shoe section spread over 3.200 square meters in Galeries Lafayette. With 150 brands featuring here, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Soldes from 27th of June until 31th july 2012
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