Put on your slip on shoes and sweat pants because the annual summer sales are here! Oh wait, French women wouldn't be caught dead in such practical clothing.
As a New Jersyite - home of endless highways, famous New Jersey blueberries (and toxic waste) and tax free shopping! - sales are a normal, every day thing for me. But in France (and much of Europe as I've learned over the years), sales are a seasonal marker, a cause for celebration, a day off! The government even publishes the calendar and regulates the length.
My first sale experience in France was nothing. Really, it was nothing. I didn't even know it was sale time. But as the years go on, and I go back to the US less and less (read do more and more shopping in france), it's become relatively important.
The first time I realized that the sales really were that big a deal was when I saw a line outside the Gap one morning at 8:15 whilst on my way to work. I just couldn’t figure it out…until the following year. Stores open early (8.30) and close late (10 pm) which is practically unheard of in provincial cities like Lille (I can hear it already, “Lille is not small. It’s the 4th largest city in France.” But, come on,
I'm not one of those crazy shoppers who goes to stake out clothes weeks before and stands at the store doors before they open. I usually stick with the dregs of the last days of sales when things are -70%. But having a child - and having recently paid an exorbitant amount for cute but tiny shoes - has changed all that.
So on Wednesday, my very pregnant friend M and I will hit the cobble stones of the rue de Paris and the rue de Bethune to find reduced children’s shoes, toddler clothes and maybe something for myself. And hopefully the stress and excitement of the soldes will make that baby come out!