After a long and pretty frustrating day at work, the plan for tonight was SHOPPING. It’s January, and in France that means les soldes (“sale season!”). According to French law, stores are only allowed to mark down items in their stores twice a years for about 5 weeks (plus, starting this year, one extra “surprise” week of the store’s choosing). These seasons are normally the month of January into early February, and the month of July (I might be wrong about the precise timing of the summer one).
Anyway, the mark-downs tend to be drastic, since the stores have a few weeks to clear their stores of all of the stock from the previous season. Once les soldes are over, leftover stock is liquidated.
So off I went with two other UofC grad students to the big famous department stores, including Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I scored really well in Printemps, picking up a pair of pink and olive Tiger Onitsuka runners for 40€ and a Mexx sweater for 41€. Lafayette was less exciting. While the boys in the group were waiting for the girls in the group to finish making purchases at Lafayette, we decided to head down the street to Zara to see what they had. The place was a war zone; there were piles of mismatched shoes and clothes on various tables, in complete disarray, and with half of the merchandise on the floor and currently being trampled. The cash registers looked like they were selling the last tickets off the island before a hurricane. We quickly found ourselves totally disinterested in shopping there, and so headed over to the Benetton store a couple of doors down. That was just boring and not very well priced, but thankfully by then the girls had finished in Lafayette and we were ready for some food and drinks.
We ended up going to a restaurant on rue Caumartin called “Le Clos Bourguignon.” On the way down, we noticed that a chunk of rue Caumartin had a bunch of Christmas lights strung across the street that involved red maple leaves. Upon closer inspection, one set of lights spelled out the phrase “A Canadian Christmas” in French. None of us had any earthly idea what that was about.
Anyway, we sat down to eat at about 19h00, so we were really early for the food service. Nonetheless, the waitress was rather displeased when only two of the four of us ordered food with the wine. There was practically nobody else in the dining room, but she nonetheless gave us a scornful look and then had her grandmotherly co-worker serve us for the rest of the meal.
From there, we headed over to the Marais for some drinks, although one of our party wussed out and headed home before we got there. One of our group was visiting from Montréal and really wanted to check out the lesbian scene here, but my knowledge of it was pretty spotty, seeing as most of my contact with lesbian gals in Paris is through the techno scene. I remembered that there was a bar called Nyx on the rue Roi de Sicile that opened a couple of years ago and was supposed to be a dyke bar, so we walked over there.
Not so in the bar, however. When we got in, there was a bartender, a hostess, an a few of her friends, all of whom nearly pounced on us when we stepped in. None of the small group looked at all connected to the dyke scene, so we quickly surmised that this was no longer a girlie bar. Nonetheless, a certain recent mother in our group needed a quiet place to pump out her breastmilk, so we grabbed drinks while she ran downstairs and took advantage of the very empty bathroom.
We were actually planning on hanging out for an hour or two until the place filled with people, but the heating was really insufficient in the building, and we found ourselves totally freezing. So we finished our drinks and headed over to a café on the corner of roi de Sicile and rue vieille du temple (I can’t remember the name) and settled in for a couple of bottles of wine. The café turned out to be dyke central, so we guzzled our wine happily while the lesbian member of our group ogled the girls. Good times.