Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adventures in shopping (Paris Sales) with Claire

Navigating Les Soldes (The French sales), can require the force of a titan. Claire takes us along for her adventures in shopping in the Marais. Not everyone gets what they want out of the sales but you can still have a lovely stroll through and dream for the next time.

Adventures in shopping - by Claire Thomas

She sells more than seashells at the Paris Sales. She sells more than seashells at the Paris Sales. She sells more than sea… all right, so it’s not as tongue-twisting as the original. But when the bi-annual sales come to Paris, you better make sure that tongue is up to the task… first-come, first-served, so speak up!

I went shopping with a friend this past Sunday – the first Sunday of the Sales. It would be an understatement to say that I was worried. Physically I was in a bad place. I had just had a very rough week at the gym (thanks, holiday cheesecake and cookies), was a bit stomach sick, and just generally exhausted thanks to the remnants of an awful bout of jetlag. I was not really looking forward to spending a day shopping, even in the calmest of Parisian months.

But this, this was the Sales. Capital S. This happens twice a year and is a huge deal in Paris. If you’re like me and purchase most of your clothing from H&M, the Sales are not really going to rock your world too much in terms of savings. But boy, if you love higher-end fashion, this is a little piece of half-off heaven. And I am trying, oh Paris I am really trying, to be fashionable! I have heels, which I wear quite often! They are really comfortable! (…All you fashionistas are shaking your head at this point, knowing full well that it is either beauty or comfort, never both.)

We headed into the Marais to see what the boutiquey boutiques could offer us. Everywhere bright signs, exclamation marks, -30%, -50%, -70%! The window display of Le Temps Des Cerises uncensored-ly exclaimed: “F***ING SOLDES” (I’m dead serious). It was overwhelming. We stopped for falafel.

Everything looked brighter through the haze of chickpeas. The line at l’As du Falafel, Lenny Kravitz’ go-to spot, is totally worth it. The Kooples, Maje, Bimba&Lola, Ugg (don’t ask), Minelli, L’Eclaireur… It seemed that each store had the size above and the size below, but rarely what we needed. That’s A for effort, but there’s a point when you have to admit that size 41 shoes just don’t fit. Sometimes during the Sales there is only one of each size remaining… there was a tense moment when my friend was trying on a pair of sneakers at Bimba&Lola which were also another shopper’s size and the last remaining 38. I have a conspiracy theory that secretly the stores have full stocks, but just like to see a little drama during their day.

It wasn’t long before I fell in love with a beautiful, long, impossibly soft, caramel-colored wool jacket at Devernois. I looked at the price – 50% off, great! – and nearly passed out. I asked if maybe there had been a mistake, maybe this ‘reduced price’ was mismarked, maybe it hadn’t been halved yet? I considered discreetly ripping off a button in an attempt to get, oh I don’t know, three or four hundred knocked off. But the lady was on us like a hawk, gushing compliments – all lies, because I know for a fact that I hadn’t washed my hair in 2 days so there’s no way it could look “magnifique” – so instead we just left, our heads hung.

I guess I still have a couple years before I can truly fashion myself up, even during the Sales. At that point, I’ll be sure to head back to the Marais and take a stroll down rue des Francs Bourgeois, rue des Rosiers, and rue Turenne. For now I’ll stick to good old H&M. There’s no easier way to make 8 friends a night than with that trusty H&M shopper standard, “Ohmigosh we are wearing the same shirt, that is just CRAZY!”

A Chicago native, Claire moved to Paris in 2009 to finish her university studies. When the semester had finished, she decided to make the city her new home. She now happily works for .Sight Seeker's Delight and beyond overseeing the company's operations, she also helps build new tours, research general Paris happenings, and aid in the administrative labyrinth.


  1. Witty girl this Claire Thomas !

  2. Thanks for sharing Claire's post. She is a kindred spirit--I laughed out loud! I too am a bargain/thrifty shopper, but would love to be more fashionable. I have heard about the annual soldes but didn't know they were strictly high-fashion. Oh well...perhaps when my "ship" comes in! I've recently found her (and you) on facebook and have received so much helpful info for when I finally make it to Paris. Thanks again!

    1. Glad you liked the post Karene and happy to provide you with a book full of helpful hints. : ) I'll have my take on the sales up soon - before they end so stay tuned.


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