My Paris Stories
My Concierge Told Me
My Paris Stories

Shopping Madness

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. It’s a hard choice. It’s torture. And a pleasure, too.

Winter sales in Paris will 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

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 just transformed a huge former swimming pool on Left Bank into an impressive shop (Mad about Paris has already talked about it). Not far away in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Ralph Lauren has opened its 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 that has opened a new venue in the Marais. And then, there's the brand new L’Hôtel Particulier concept store in Montorgeuil district. If you’re mad about shoes, head directly to the new shoe section spread over 3.200 square meters in Galeries Lafayette. With 150 brands featuring here, you'll be spoilt for choice.

Soldes from 12th of January until 15th of February 2011

She has the look: red and skinny leather bikers by Isabel Marant
Illustration: © Cecile Trémolières