C’est Les Soldes!

It’s Sale Time in Paris!

Yesterday, January 9th, marked the beginning of the semiannual Paris sales (“les soldes”).  The next six weeks (until February 12th) are the winter sales, and the second (and last) round of the year will take place during the summer season.

If you’re reading this in the States, you may be a little confused — I certainly was last week, when people started mentioning the upcoming “sales”.  Eventually, my friendly next-door neighbor in the dorm cleared things up.  As she explained, sales in France are nothing like sales in the U.S.  While stores in America run promotions year-round (constantly, it seems) and almost always have reduced-priced items in designated areas, this is not the case in Paris.  Here, sales are government-regulated, and thus they run at specific times of the year (usually winter and summer).  The sales in Paris last for about six weeks and are meant to clear out seasonal apparel and other items.  I somewhat luckily (somewhat because it’s certainly not lucky for my wallet) happen to be in town for one of them.

They (the internet) say the Paris sales can be pretty crazy…  And it’s no wonder, because items can be marked down by up to 80% by the end of the sale period.  This means you can’t get anywhere without seeing a “SOLDES” or “SOLDISSIMES” sign in a shop window or on a metro billboard.  After all, it’s not just clothing establishments that run promotions – electronics stores, Target-esque retailers, and jewelry shops partake as well.

Sign advertising the sales (from http://www.galerieslafayette.com/)

Sign advertising the sales (from http://www.galerieslafayette.com/)

As I now know, you really should develop some sort of shopping strategy before heading out into the frenzy…  At least make a list of what you are looking for to avoid being seduced by the 50% off tags and fashionable overcoats.  I avoided any impulsive buying yesterday by keeping my wallet shut and browsing the racks for some fashion inspiration amid the masses (of Parisians and tourists alike – and let me just say, the well-dressed Parisians provided just as much inspiration as the clothing on sale).  My visit to Galleries Lafayette, a huge French department store, ended up being quite the cultural experience — I’m sure I’ll head back in the near future for some real shopping!

The amazing color-changing ceiling of Galeries Lafayette

The amazing color-changing ceiling of Galeries Lafayette

Ground floor of Galeries Lafayette

Ground floor of Galeries Lafayette

Looking down from the second floor of Galeries Lafayette

Looking down from the second floor of Galeries Lafayette

On our way out of Galeries Lafayette, my friends and I stopped at a macaron display within the department store.  It happened to be Pierre Hermé, a well-known macaron store/brand.

Pierre Hermé macarons

Pierre Hermé macarons

Of course, I couldn’t resist, so I bought two – Truffe Blanche & Noisette (white truffle and hazelnut) and Noisette (plain hazelnut).

Truffe Blanche & Noisette (L) and Noisette

Truffe Blanche & Noisette (L) and Noisette

White truffle and hazelnut macaron (see the little hazelnut pieces inside?)

White truffle and hazelnut macaron (see the little hazelnut pieces inside?)

They were both incredibly good – nothing like macarons in the U.S. (and much better than even the fancy ones from ‘lette).  The white truffle and hazelnut one was particularly good because it had such an interesting flavor – earthy from the truffle and nutty and rich from the hazelnut.  There was a generous amount of light cream inside, and the cookie portions were melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Macarons from Ladurée are next on my list!

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Coex: A Shopper’s Haven on a Rainy Day

Ji Young and I spent this past rainy Sunday at Coex, “a business and cultural hub located in the heart of Gangnam, Seoul’s business district” (according to its website).  It’s home to Asia’s largest underground mall, Coex Mall, where we spent most of our time.  It’s huge and full of stores, restaurants, and people, of course.  I would’ve gotten lost if it weren’t for Ji Young, who knows her way around pretty well.  Thank goodness. Continue reading