Thursday, August 24, 2006

Etes-vous une vraie Serial Shoppeuse?

Some things make me chuckle in France and some things make me laugh so much that I snort (only in the privacy of my appartement, bien sur).

This honest-to-God tag line from a junk mail advertisement from 3 suisses (kind of like Sears/Target) hit my funny bone.

Maybe a bit close to home, too? Although I have learned to keep my belongings to a minimum, because French lodgings just don't have much storage space, I am starting to master the art of shopping a la francaise.

Armed with my bible, "Paris Pas Cher" and combined with great advice and help from other local friends -- Mirenchu, Kathryn, Isabelle, Mary, Gisele and others -- I have managed to sniff out some of the better bargains available in France. From fabrics in Montmartre ( to la marche aux puces at Porte de Vanves to France's equivalent of the "Dollar Stores" , I have been making the rounds and have set up la vie a la Parisienne.

And when my tres glamorous friend Nina was visiting from New York in May we found Anna Lowe on rue du Faubourg St. Honore, which has real couture pieces that you can actually afford. So what if it's last season when you're an American fashion simpleton?

I've visited brocantes in the Yvelines and the Gers, the marche in Dinard and in Marciac, always comparison shopping.

When I needed to go to an important gala or have the right business clothes, I went to a great store called La Piscine. Yes, it is located in a former indoor swimming pool. Well, the pool is still there -- but the water is gone. They've added palm trees, so verrry French to make the most of what is. Great designer clothes at cheap cheap prices.

I don't really like to go to the big department stores, though it is tempting when it's raining.

My other favorite store in Paris is Deyrolle, not for clothes but for decor items.

If you're a PETA fanatic you won't like this store, but it is my idea of heaven. I got the most wonderful seashell there -- about the size of a soccer ball, a luminous and salmon colored cocnh shell. For anyone who thinks that a puppy is the only way to meet new people, let me tell you this: walk down the streets of Paris with a gorgeous huge seashell in your hand (too fragile to have it swinging from some plastic bag, of course) and you'll start conversations with all the kinds of people you'd really like to meet!

But I digress.

Shopping at BHV is another favorite. I have also discovered that my little neighborhood droguerie/quincaillerie (hardware store) has just about everything I need at BHV prices or less, plus good advice.

Next to my apartment building is "Le Depot Vente Rive Gauche", a great consignment store with everything from blue jeans to Hermes pocketbooks at rock-bottom prices. It is great to have the space restriction because it has forced me to become much more judicious and selective. I buy only what I really need (a suit for one business meeting, casual pants for another meeting) and then allow myself an occasional "coup de coeur" for the rest.

Now, where to put all that inappropriate apparel that I brought from the US? Actually some places in the US are great if you have an eye for French fashion and then go for a trip to the states -- especially Target and TJ Maxx.

My friend Michel disdained my shopping exploits when some American friends were in town. "Ah oui, les Americaines aiment ca, " he sniffed. Well, maybe les Americaines do like to shop, but evidently we're not alone if 3 Suisses coins the serial shoppeuse phrase.

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