Two little Boston Terrier girls bring their Momo & Mr.Momo to Paris for a long stay. These are the tales of their very fine adventures.


Guess What Kids? Soldes! Yay Soldes!

Soldes are state sponsored sales. We at home in the US called them names like Nordstrom's Half Yearly Sale. But here, they are a major event and everyone goes all out and it is a big big deal. It is intended to help the stores clear out year end merchandise and make way for new collections or that is the rhetoric at least. Did I mention it is state sponsored? Ah, a democratic country with a twist. At least people care enough to vote.

A few days prior to the soldes, giant yellow posters start adorning all the entrances of the department stores. New to me, it took a few tries before I translated the posters. Hum, sales. Ok. No big deal, a sale. Woohoo. Whoa. Not these state sponsored thingys! Before I knew it everything in sight that was a storefront was wrapped in signs, all kinds of signs screaming SOLDES! YAY SOLDES! The soldes are coming.

Still, I really didn't get it. I wandered around the day before the big soldes began because I was looking for something. Might as well have been more invisible than before and if I could find any merchandise, it was under heaps of plastic or other covers taped down securely as though it held state secrets - awaiting the soldes day. Apparently no one works past closing time because they had to prepare for the sale during business hours the day before the sale so if you were unlucky to have that day to shop in Paris, oh too bad for you. Mostly what you got were miles and miles of plastic garbage bags taped to tables with mystery stuff under it. And surprisingly, I thought it would just be crap they trucked in, like the junk stores we have at home - true leftovers from seasons long past - but when the stuff was unveiled, it was pretty much regular stock. Zowie. The good stuff. And if you took the soldes price it actually made up for the crappy exchange rate.

Soldes goes on from the end of June through the beginning of August and stores expand their hours by a whole half-hour each day. Even the Monoprix, which is a grocery/other discount (not really) type store, chimes in with expanded hours, oops, half-hour.

The sale is a good deal if you have patience. The first day has good pickings obviously, but here, they continue to march out merchandise so that on any day you might find good things. The store clerks though are bipolar as a collective. They will either be in very happy moods and look forward to seeing you and your purchases, or they will give you the "frown". The dour dour frown that makes you want to run back to your seat and sit with your hands folded so Sister Katrina doesn't knock your knuckles with a ruler. I know I have put merchandise down and walked away when that happens. It is honest to Pete scary.

I think tourists in Europe who are familiar with soldes days come from far and wide to participate. It is a virtual united nations in the stores these days. I guess buying clothes in Paris is a coveted thing. I stick to socks because that is what I can afford, and they take their socks very seriously here - socks are fashion items. So is men's underwear which is interesting because shoppers trip over one another to get to those undies. Undies are fashion statements in Paris even for men. The stores don't allow photographs to be taken in the buildings otherwise I would post some here - but just think of Picasso, a little Miro and a twist of Andy Warhol, and you have the idea. On undies. One cannot be in a bad mood perusing the men's socks and undies department. It is just too colorful.

Seriously, soldes is an interesting part of the culture here. If you want to make sure you are here when it happens plan your Paris vacation for the end of June. You and 3 million other tourists won't regret it.

L&P I am afraid care nothing for the soldes and they are too uninterested to participate in a rating. Momo too. She just enjoys knowing that the soldes prices are a level playing field to the almighty George-Bush-dollar-buys-not-much-compared-to-the-big-Euro. You can almost break even. Almost. But probably not when you spend a few hundred on socks. Yes, Virginia, I said socks. But just think of them as art for feet. And a piece of Paris culture.

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