While Papa Noël, Father Christmas and Santa Claus enjoy a well-needed rest after quite a busy holiday season, an even livelier season is taking hold throughout France: the winter sales! Shop and boutique windows everywhere are displaying the word SOLDES! These spectacular sales run for a month, starting on the 7 January and running until the 10 February.

Due to the fortunate timing of my trips to France, I’ve participated in over a dozen sales seasons. As such, I offer some friendly tips!

1. Wear comfortable shoes.

Unless you are a native Parisian woman who has mastered the art of living in heels, stilettos are not needed. Please, no sneakers or puffy boots either. A nice ballet flat will suffice – you still want to look chic enough for an après-shopping stop at a café for a citron pressé or a glass of wine!

2. Stand your ground.

Seriously. Don’t let anyone push you around. If someone tries to inch in on your territory, give them a good elbow to the side of the torso, or better yet, squint your eyes and growl in your deepest and most vicious voice: “dégage“.

3. Know what you want.

Decide what you really need and want. I’m a bit wide in the rear, and fully accept that the cut of pants designed for European women are not for me. Depending on the cut of a frock, I’m fine. Pants? No. My hips don’t lie! I take this opportunity to make my annual Repetto purchase and to pick up a bag or two, maybe a pullover or dress, and some beauty products… but never pants!

4. Wear great undergarments.

If you plan on shopping for clothing, the proper underwear helps. Additionally, many French dressing rooms are placed in the middle of the floor with flimsy curtains. If you’re going to be on display due to a flimsy curtain, remember what your mother told you about nice, clean underwear!

5. Arrive early.

A few years back I promised my daughter, Oona, that I would pick up a Longchamp weekender for her. We arrived at Galeries Lafayette in the afternoon to a seemingly mile-long line.  Although we were extremely organised, the amount of time spent to purchase that bag was ridiculous. Had we gone earlier, we could have been in and out in minutes!

6. Explore and compare.

Rue Bonaparte houses so many great boutiques and the sales assistants are extremely helpful and patient – a true treasure of pleasure and more intimate than a visit to a larger department store. Recently, Monoprix has become pricier for beauty products. I shop at City Pharma on Rue du Four instead. This is the mecca of discounted beauty products and every day is a sale day! I’ve also discovered Nat & Nin, a leather goods company run by two sisters. Their leather bags (see picture) are buttery-soft and the available colours are so beautiful. Nat & Nin sells throughout Paris, but the best discounts can be found at Sophie Sacs, 149 Rue de Rennes!

So if you are in Paris during the sales, set aside a day of fun and excitement and enjoy the Soldes!

©2015 Catherine Urbanski

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