Paris: Inseine

After a few days in Angers last week, my friend Natalie jetted off to Spain to visit another friend. I was supposed to join her in Barcelona, but the rent reimbursement check that had been posted three weeks prior didn’t reach me in time to book a flight. Mystery solved: it got mixed in a stack of mail my landlady hadn’t looked at since Christmas. Gee thanks yet again for nothing, la femme aux grands yeux. (My roommate and I call her The Woman With Big Eyes. It’s pretty self-explanatory.)

Natalie had to fly out of Paris Wednesday morning, though, so I joined her there Tuesday night. After crêpes for dinner and dessert, we headed to the Champs-Elysées,

where we took this classic tourist picture.

I was, to put it nicely, freakin’ pissed that my check had been sitting in a pile of junk mail on my landlady’s kitchen counter rather than buying me a ticket to Barcelona, but as Elizabeth Gilbert says, God doesn’t shut a door without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies. Since I didn’t drop a ton of money on a weekend in Spain, I decided that it would be okay to do a bit of shopping during France’s weird government-regulated January sales period. I could do that in Angers, of course, but it’s way more exciting in Paris.

So, after seeing Natalie off, I took myself out for a day of shopping in Gay Paree. Trouble is, months of painstaking frugality made shopping surprisingly difficult. I was terrified of suffering buyer’s remorse later. I had made a list of (mostly boring) things I’d had my eye on for several weeks, but I didn’t even buy everything on the list because I couldn’t stand parting with money like that.

Consequently, I made an interesting cultural observation. I have a theory as to the real reason that French women are thin: in a land known for lingerie, if you wear over B-cup bra, you will be punished with crippling prices on a limited selection of ugly bras that are inadequate for real boobage.

I did have a nice, if exhausting, day walking miles and miles around a few parts of Paris I had never explored, though. All day, only one person Englished me (that is, responded in English when I asked a question in French). Another great thing was that the theme of the day was Things That Are Accidentally Funny.

I often suspect that clothing manufacturers ask interns who don't actually speak English to write copy for t-shirts. I mean, why Charlotte, N.C.? It's a nice town and all, but it's fairly unremarkable.

Someone corrected the grammar on this sign asking customers to leave the bathroom clean. I would also have crossed out the hyphen between please and leave, but considering I'm not a native speaker, I didn't intervene.

This street is called Bad Guys' Street!

Another example of an American place chosen at random. I like Wichita, too, but if you're going for glamor, shop owner, you've missed the mark.

I despised Avatar with a fury that will not fit into this caption. I also hate E.T. Nonetheless, I found this ad adorable. It says, "This time, we're the extra-terrestrials."

As I wore out my feet, legs, and patience looking at a ka-jillion shops, I kept thinking of a dress I’d seen in a little boutique in the 11th arrondissement that I had decided against on the principle that I don’t need it. It was stuck in my head as badly as that Shakira & Dizzee Rascal song that was playing all over Paris. After several hours of thinking about that dress—and feeling disappointed that the only things I had chosen (khakis, a black cardigan, and a white shirt) were things I could have gotten anywhere—enough was enough. If I didn’t buy it, it was going to haunt me forever. With just over an hour ’til my train, I ran through the Metro and the Paris streets back to the little boutique and tried on the dress, which of course fit perfectly. It was a big splurge, even at 50% off, but je l’adore and it will be my Special Paris Dress until I’m old enough to be ashamed of my legs, at which point it will either be my daughter’s Mom’s Special Dress from Paris, or, if I’m famous, auctioned for charity. I’m not going to post a picture of it yet because I’m saving it for my anniversary dinner with Jef, so until then, just imagine this: Mad Men meets mermaid.

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4 responses to “Paris: Inseine

  1. dress sounds awesome!! next time you are back in paris, there is a store that i found in the marais that i really loved. they have lots of bags and clothes and little paper things in quirky prints. it’s called Les Touristes.
    17 Rue Blancs Manteaux
    75004 Paris
    there is also an INCREDIBLE falafel place in the jewish quarter, nearby… if you ask pretty much anyone in that neighborhood about it, they will know! it is so so good.

  2. I have to say, that Avatar ad is about ten billion times better than the US ad campaign.

  3. I’m glad you bought it! And I can’t wait to see pictures! How long until Jef comes to visit? Also, it’s okay you didn’t get to go to Barcelona because you’re going to go with ME in June! I am SOOO pumped! I’ve been looking up little day trips for us and pretty soon I will have all my dates pinned down so I can even buy my plane tickets :)

  4. Oooooh, 1960s mermaid? I want to see it!

    Shopping alone is a very good thing to do in Europe, I think. You get to walk around wherever you want, look at things, do whatever. I like it.

    Also, there’s a Ben and Jerry’s in that photo of Bad Guys Street. There was one in Stockholm, and I waited in a huge line for ice cream, and it was fantastic.

    Miss you!

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