Ladies, start your engines. Today marks the beginning of shopping madness in France, otherwise known as "Les Soldes," or in English, The Sales. For a couple of weeks, stores in France put large portions of their merchandise on sale. We're talking 40, 50, even 60 percent off the original price. Towards the end of les soldes, prices can get marked down as much as 80 percent or more. Because sales are regulated by the government, merchants are only allowed to offer them twice a year. Needless to say, les soldes are a national event; every store is offering deals and everyone hits the stores. With this information in mind, I went to the enormous shopping mall at La Défense...for journalistic purposes only, of course.
The place was a zoo. The escalators were jammed, lines for dressing rooms and cash registers were endless, you could barely move within the stores without banging into someone. And it was only 10:30 am...on a Wednesday. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that there were so many people there early in the morning on a weekday. On the news they said that some Frenchwomen (and some men too!) take a vacation day so they can shop early when there is still a lot of merchandise available. I've even heard through the grapevine that if you go to one of the big downtown department stores like Galeries Lafayette or Printemps you can see women fighting over sale-priced designer shoes. I can't decide if that would be fun or scary.
In any case, I'm happy to report that the deals were indeed good. I saw 6o euro shirts marked down to 24, 80 euro shoes marked down to 45, and lots of beauty products for 5 euros or less. I'm going to try braving the stores this Saturday morning to see what other kinds of deals I can find. Wish me luck.