Paris has wonderful window shopping, and now that we’re in the home stretch before Christmas (plenty of time to do your Christmas shopping!), it’s especially festive. And the stores are very helpful as well, because in addition to putting up gorgeous displays of sweaters, jackets, dresses, scarves, and ohhhhh, the shoes, they also put up the prices of the aforementioned wares. Which means that you know in advance whether or not you can afford to go in. Somebody once told me that they do that so that if you know you’re not going to buy anything, you won’t go in and browse, and they won’t have to waste their (slightly begrudging) hospitality on you–and that makes me nervous about going into French stores in the first place.
But in the last couple of days, I’ve bought myself a couple of things. Very, very pretty things. Last week, I met up with Dad and Julie at BHV, an amazing department store on Rue de Rivoli, before we had dinner at Le Colimaçon in Le Marais (mmmm, foie gras…”No, get the hair!”). I was walking from Châtelet to the store when I happened to notice in the window of Minelli…duck boots. Not just any duck boots, but obscenely high-heeled duck boots.
Now, usually when I see something I like in a store window, I’m fine with standing and ogling it for a minute before going along my merry way. But I’ve been yearning for a pair of high-heeled duck boots since I saw somebody wearing them in an old entry at The Sartorialist, because apparently in 2010 Tommy Hilfiger made duck boots sexy. By the time I discovered that duck boots were sexy, the Hilfiger website had sold out of them (even the sale ones!). But I promised myself that if I ever saw them again, I would…at least think about buying them. And I thought. And then I thought some more. And I was still thinking as of yesterday morning.
My plan was to go to the Forum des Halles, which is a colossal underground mall, return some books to the music library, then go up to Rue de Rivoli and buy those boots. And you know what happened? There’s a Minelli right at the top of the escalator from the RER to the mall. It was a sign. So I had to go in and try them on. After two separate people mistook me for a Minelli employee, I decided it was fate and I had better take the plunge. So guess what’s in my closet now?
(And yes, my carpet is covered in rogue quinoa. I have in fact cleaned my room, but I have not gotten around to passer l’aspirateur.)
Hurrah! And then this afternoon, after I did laundry, cleaned my room and practiced in a very productive kind of way, I went to the glove store on Rue de Rennes. One thing that cracks me up about the French language (and there aren’t that many things, actually–I’m usually too nervous about using it to laugh about it) is that you can take just about any thing-noun and turn it into a store by adding “-erie.” So gloves are les gants, which means that a store that sells nothing but gloves is a ganterie. Of course there are exceptions, like boulangerie (though I guess some of them do sell boules, like Poîlane), and épicerie (where they do sell les épices–spices–but also other groceries). But it made me chuckle that I could go to Google.fr and type in “ganterie” and it gave me the glove store on Rue de Rennes. Anyway, I bought a gorgeous pair of leather gloves in a sort of burgundy color. I tried to take a picture but there’s something so awkward about taking a picture of one’s own hand, and nothing at all interesting about a picture of empty gloves. So it’ll have to wait.
After I bought the gloves, I had to go back to Forum des Halles (because the music library was closed yesterday…all that way for nothing! And duck boots!). Now that I’ve mastered the public transportation system and have unlimited access to it until next October, I’ve decided that it’s time to get to know this city on foot. So I walked from St. Sulpice to Les Halles, which is not nearly as far as it looks on a train map. It was a great walk, plenty of stores to peep into and Christmas decorations everywhere…and an outdoor candy stand. This was a particularly good one, actually–sometimes they only have Haribo stuff, which I don’t especially like (that white stuff kind of skeeves me out), but this one had chocolate covered things and caramels and gummi worms. What caught my eye in particular was the enormous gummi bears. I mean, really, colossal. Enorme! Formidable!.
I’m trying to detox after a week of glorious eating with Dad and Julie, but those gummi bears were just calling out to me. So I bought some, for almost four euro. Overpriced? Certainly. Worth it? Absolutely.
I think maybe it was just the familiarity of them that struck me. There are some candies on those stands that I can’t even identify (though they all look delicious), but I’m a gummi bear connoisseur from way back, when I had pneumonia and had to take truly vile medicine; after every dose, I got to have gummi bears. A spoonful of sugar, indeed! And besides, living in Paris is, if you hadn’t figured it out by now, quite stressful at times, and you have to do whatever you can to stay afloat. Hallie says that whenever she gets homesick, she goes to Starbucks; for my friend Jordan, who is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Guayaquil, Ecuador, it’s running, reading and writing. And for me, gummi bears. And the New York Times crossword puzzle.