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Thursday, January 13, 2005

doing the soldes

as most of you chic shoppers out there know, paris only has big sales twice a year-- once in january and once in june/july, for a period of 4 weeks each time. this is regulated by the french government, not sure why exactly, but something to do with giving everyone an equal chance in this socialist society. anyway, the sales are only announced a few days beforehand, although by living here for a few years, you get some idea of when they will start.

this year's january sales started wednesday, jan. 12. by this date, pros and shopaholics have attended the by-invite-only advance private sales and sensibly stay off the streets the first day of the sales as it is utter madness. the french save up vacation days to be able to hit the sales first day, and tourists flock to the city as well. although i had done some advance shopping, i still couldn't resist the leur and was out and about doing a bit of babyclothes shopping with a friend.

starting in st. germain, i arrived early to see lines outside of several shopping hotspots. these shops were not even yet open, but the queues were 10s of people deep, dying to get their grubby hands on whatever bargains they can find. armai, paule ka, tod's, and eric bompard all had loads of people outside. are there really big bargains, though, you ask? i think it all depends. if you are not at all finicky, then perhaps you'll find a bunch of stuff that you can't live without. i find that if you don't plan in advance and decide what exactly you are going after, you end up with a bunch of stuff that you don't need. [well, do we need any of it, really? that's a whole different discussion....]

the first days of the sales, the reductions are only 30-50%. they increase as the weeks go by, but then again, if you wait, the must-have item might have disappeared. my advice? go before the sales, try on what you want and make a plan. avoid the department stores on the first few days and seek out out-of-the-way branches of the shops you like, as they are likely to be less crowded. happy bargain hunting!

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