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Tuesday, 18 May 2010


My favourite way of shopping has to be at a Paris market. We have a great “marché” near our apartment. It is a pleasant walk across the river Seine then down a small underpass which pops us onto the path leading us past the allotments outside the Palais de Tokyo. What I love about French vegetable gardens is that they also plant flowers, the favourite being dahlias. It is like all the delights and requirements of the table are there in one patch. Then there are also hollyhocks all standing to attention giving a colourful boundary between the plots. Passing these plots whets our appetite for the Saturday market with the colourful displays of vegetables, fruits and flowers which are at the top of the 100 steps leading up to it. So step aerobics is included in this exercise.

Another way of shopping is at stalls which are to be found in a lot of streets throughout Paris. There you can see very smartly dressed women buying foulards and scarves and even jewellery from unlikely displays. Copies of copies of copies of Dior, Chanel et al can be found in the most unexpected places. I happen to be one of these people who cannot go down a street without looking to right and left and staring into shop windows and their sometimes really wonderful displays of what lies within. I try to assure those who find my habit annoying that I do it all in the interests of research. I say that shops and their window displays are indicators of our civilization. They are our mood indicators of the moment, where things are developing and from where they have been developed. Surely that is worth an A+ in a “Social Science” university viva or what is called an anthropological study, or is now known as a degree in “Humanities” in American universities. Thus I argue my right to weave from side to side whilst making my way down a street and in Paris there is plenty of weaving to do.

Shopping with a friend, who is “très sympathique” – or “sympa”, which is the French abbreviation, is very enjoyable. There we are trying on everything in sight and twirling around asking “does my bum look big in this”; it has to be a great way to spend a day. I have just such a good friend and we can spend up to eight hours on our excursions. These excursions might not always take part in Paris but in the lovely country towns and cities of France where shopping is taken at a much more leisurely pace and with a tasty lunch included. Wine is not taken, for fear of overspending. As if !!??

There is a shopping “downside” though, as sometimes shopping, or even just looking around shops can bring on a sensation of indigestion. Christmas time is a prime time for this to happen, all that gold and food. So I take a break from the actual and turn to the armchair variety, looking on the internet at all the favourite designers and popular labels. If that still solicits too much energy and brings on nausea there is, of course, the world market of ebay. Said friend is amazingly successful with her purchases and seems to find truly wonderful things for herself and for her home. Unfortunately I do not have the same luck. Apart from a few items I am usually disappointed with my purchases, or they don’t arrive or worse of all disappear in the absence of the regular gardienne in our apartment building.

No wonder shopping has been called “retail therapy” and I have used it as such, denting the credit card, but then I am sure it is less expensive and certainly more enjoyable than attending a psychiatrist.

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