Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shop 'till you drop

Today is the official start of “les soldes” which are the biannual sales that take place throughout Paris. When I first moved to France, it was a strange concept to me that sales only happened twice a year, for 5 weeks at a time: once just after the New Year and once in the summer. It was curious to me that shops never had sales any other time of year (although this year with the economic crunch, the rules have been relaxed a bit), so I did a bit of research to find out why exactly that was.

It is actually the police that set the dates and supervise the sales. This tradition dates back to practices of the merchants’ guilds in the Middle Ages (to put it into perspective, the practice of regulating sales in France predates the discovery of America by about 300 years!). Back then, the guilds settled disputes between tradesmen and protected them against competition from other towns. Guilds also set the standards for quality and pricing (one that doesn’t exist anymore – thankfully – is that “bread can’t contain more than 10% sand”). Now days, the French see these rules for “les soldes” as still protecting them as consumers, but from different things. For instance, when the sales do finally roll around, the stores can’t bring in cheap junk merchandise and pretend that it is their “good” merchandise that they just marked down; retailers can only mark down pre-existing merchandise. Another difference between the start of the regulation and now is that if tradesmen failed to abide by the rules set by the guild, a medieval cop known as the Provost (who evolved into the modern police officer) broke their legs. Now, merchants just receive huge fines.

I’ve often overheard tourists wondering out-loud how so many small shops can exist in Paris. “Les soldes” are part of the governmental protection of the retailer that makes it possible for so many mom-and-pop stores to stay open. The rules are put into place so that one store cannot try to steal another’s customers by lowering their prices drastically.

So, put on some comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to battle some crowds for up to 70% off!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SlideLuck Potshow Paris -A unique photo experience in Paris - June 23 2010

If you are looking for something to do this evening in Paris and are a fan of photography why not join us tonight June 23rd at the first Paris edition of the Potluck Slideshow.

Started in New York 10 years ago, this is an evening of photo projections that brings together the works of professional and amateur photographers around a potluck (everyone brings a dish), buffet. The general public provides the food and in return gets to participate in a unique experience.

Access is free to those who bring a dish (anything you like really), if possible home-made. For anyone coming empty handed it is 5 euros - but it's more interesting and fun to bring something.

What: Potluck Slideshow
where: Le Comptoir General - 80 Quai Jemmapes Paris 75010, metro Republique
When: June 23rd starting at 7 PM

We hear that another such event is being dreamed up as we speak for November and we at Feels Like Home in Paris have even been asked to perhaps submit something given that both Stacey and I are great photo enthusiasts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

La vie en musique

June 21 is the official start of summer and is the longest day of the year. To celebrate this, Paris breaks out into song! If you are lucky enough to be in Paris on this day, you will see hundreds of musicians performing everything from jazz to electronic music for free on the street, or in a café or bar. Wandering the streets during one of the most popular events in the city of lights is a great way to get to know whatever neighborhood you are staying in. Summertime always puts Parisians in a good mood, and La Fête de la Musique really exemplifies this convivial mood.

The event first took place in 1982 when France’s then Director of Music and Dance, Maurice Fleuret, ran a study that found that five million French people - including one child in two - played a musical instrument. He wanted to get everyone out into the streets playing their instruments together and proposed an all-night music celebration on the longest day of the year. Thus La Fête de la Musique was born, not just in Paris but also all over France.

The city of Paris sponsors big-name musicians at the main venues (Place de la Bastille, the Champ de Mars, and La Défense). But if you just wanted to wander around to see what you can find, head to the Place de la Republique if you want to see Rock, while classical orchestras can be heard in the courtyard of the Palais Royal, indie bands at place Denfert-Rocherau.

As you can imagine, it will be pretty difficult to get around the city with so many musicians squatting the streets, so steer clear of taking the bus or a taxi. I usually make sure I am wearing comfortable shoes and walk everywhere. But the metro is also kept open all night long, so don’t worry if you wander off and are too tired to walk all the way back to wherever you are staying!

You can visit the official page here to plan your itinerary: Most of the music starts mid-afternoon and lasts ‘till the wee hours of the morning so make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before!

photo credits: Stacey Pedersen Photography

A copper pot for you, a rolling pin for me

Every time my mother comes to visit me, she comes prepared with a list of shops she wants to visit, usually grouped by theme. The last time she was here, the theme was “kitchen supplies”. The first store we stopped at is by far the oldest, and most famous one on the list. It’s called “E Dehillerin”.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Charitable gesture and a Great meal! Chefs united in the fight against AIDS

This coming Thursday June 10th in Paris, Chefs of 170 restaurants across France have united in support of SIDaction, an organization that was created in 1994 in order to inform the general public about and raise funds for AIDS research, in a day of solidarity.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Its Roland Garros time!

For the last couple weeks, most conversations have revolved around Roland Garros (or the French Open). With the finals being this weekend, I thought now would be a good time to write up a little history on the subject.

When it began in 1891, the competition was only open to tennis players who were members of French clubs and was known as the Championnat de France International de Tennis. The first women’s tournament was held in 1897. The tournament was opened to international competitors in 1925 and was held on a grass court between Racing Club de France and the Stade Français. Then, in 1965 the championship became the first grand slam tournament to go “open”, meaning that both amateurs and professionals can compete. The competition was held on the grass courts until the Stade de France offered the tennis authorities three hectares of land with the condition that the new stadium must be named after the World War I pilot, Roland Garros.

Being such a popular competition, tickets sell out quickly. So, if you are in Paris and would like to watch the match but haven’t been able to get tickets you can head over to the Hotel de Ville where the city of Paris has set up huge screens for the public to watch the matches on (more info here: ). Bring a picnic, enjoy the ambiance and root for your favorite player!
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