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My new favourite words ~ degriffee and de-stockage

Never one to give up on a challenge, I am determined that I will find something to buy in Paris. I've read about rue Alesia, in the 14th arrondissement, a street full of stock shops, outlets and degriffages (which literally means that the labels have been ripped out so that you don't know which designer piece you bought at a discount). After a breakfast of fresh croissant and pain au chocolat in the apartment, we take the metro line number 4 to the Alesia stop and start walking. The first store we come to is a Sonia Rykiel outlet where the cute purses are 174 euros ~ still about $270 but much more affordable than the 550 euro bags from Burberry! I think about buying one for Danielle, but I'm not sure if she knows who Sonia Rykel is and if she will appreciate the purse. I will think about it as we continue our walk down the street. We do a few more shops and come to a tiny store crammed with designer pieces from previous years. I find a beautiful white jacket with black embroidery on the back for 69 euros ~ alas, they only have 1 and it is not in my size. Well, at least I've found something I actually like and would have spent money on. Encouraged, we carry on. We pop into the Cacharel outlet and I try to talk myself into buying a pair of shoes, a steal at 130 euros ~ half price of the outlet price, I so can't resist these types of bargains, but none of the shoes scream out "buy me" so I resist the lure of the designer steal and we keep going. We both realize we are hungry when we come to a side street that has all kinds of cafes and bistros. We settle on a tiny Asian takeout place, which also has a few tables to eat in. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and we choose about 7 different dishes, including steamed dumplings, stuffed crab, caramel pork (!), lemon chicken skewers and duck along with vermicelli noodles and steamed broccoli and mushrooms. We gobble it all down, enjoying the different flavours and textures (I really loved the mushrooms, they were very different than the ones we are used to, they were very "meaty" if that makes any sense.) The line up at the counter never slows down as locals continually give their take out orders and scurry back to the office or store with their lunch treasures. We have seen many of these "traiteurs asiastiques" on almost every street and are happy we got to try a meal. Lunch was 23 euros with Den's iced tea and my water, but we could have spent much less if we hadn't been so entranced by the many different choices. There were lunch specials ranging from 5 to 7 euros each but we weren't sure what choices we would get, so decided to go a la carte. Yum, Yum...............

Fortified by our huge lunch, we start back up Alesia on the other side of the street. Den almost buys a couple of Marlboro Classic shirts at another store crammed with stock but they don't fit well. Again, these are tiny places with no real dressing rooms, so you either try stuff on over your clothing or if you're not too modest, stuff yourself in a corner and undress and try the clothes on really quickly! We are having a blast finding all kinds of deals, even if we're not buying. We see the jeans that have been in all the fashion magazines selling at 69 - 120 euros (Diesel, Miss Sixty, True Religion, etc). I still won't pay that kind of money for jeans, but they must be good prices because people are buying.

We pass by a true little dive of a store and I don't want to go in, but Den makes me. I'm almost ready to leave as soon as we go in, stuff is crammed in every nook and cranny, but people are buying frantically so we look around. I find a beautiful grey blazer hanging on a shelf in the back of the room and try it on ~ it fits like a glove!! I can't find pants or a skirt to go with it and ask the gruff owner, who tells me that there was a skirt but he doesn't think it's still here. He looks around a bit for me but shrugs and says, "sorry" in that way which means, "really, I don't care, take it or leave it". I ask how much for the jacket and he shrugs again, thinks and mumbles.....25 euros!! A beautifully cut blazer for about $40! I can't get my money out fast enough and we giddily leave the store with my find. I finally bought something in Paris!! Well, I guess the blazer broke the spell because I buy 2 beautiful purses from a Mac Douglas outlet for 50 euros each (one for me and one for Danielle) and a pretty red blouse from another little store further down the street. The floodgates have opened and I have learned to spend again (actually, anyone who knows me knows I can spend, I just have to find: a) bargains and b) stuff I like). We are back where we started and decide to take the metro back home and get rid of our bags. We get off the metro at Les Halles and 10 minutes in the underground mall is enough for both of us, we hurry outside and start walking home. I find another destockage shop on a little side street, with Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Hello Kitty, etc. I browse for about 10 minutes, but Den is tired and wants to get back to the apartment. I spot 2 more outlets on the way home advertising Versace, D&G, Armani and I have become a crazed bargain shopper, my antenna up and out, looking for deals. Den won't let me stop in any of the stores and promises we can come back tomorrow.

We finally make it back to the apartment, where I put my finds away. I notice the tag has been cut out of my blazer, but that it still has a tiny tag saying made in Italy, so now I can pretend it is a Versace or Armani blazer..............in my mind it is, so there!

We rest a bit in the apartment and I made dinner reservations for 8pm at Le Fous de L'Ile, a tiny place we found last year on Ile St Louis (33 rue des Deux Ponts). Den wants to hit Happy Hour again, so we freshen up and are back out of the apartment a little after 5pm. We walk down to rue de Vielle Temple as there are many bars on the little street. We find a little hole in the wall, completely empty but there is a sign outside advertising margueritas at 4.5 euros so we sit down in the open doorway and order 2 drinks. I think the bartender is a little offput at these tourists disturbing him and he is kind of curt, but makes us 2 great margueritas anyways. I try to charm him with my 48 year old French Canadian witty banter, but he is having none of it, so we leave after our drink. We walk another 2-3 blocks on a street chock full of bars and people drinking and enjoying themselves and come to a street where there is literally a bar/cafe on each corner. We score a little table all by ourselves where we can watch all the action and order 2 more margueritas and a plate of guacamole and chips. We settle in and just enjoy watching Paris on the move at 6pm. Mothers are going home after having picked up their kids at daycare, business men buy their baguettes for dinner tonight at the bakery across the street,
lovers meet and kiss before sitting down for a drink, and many tourists stop and look at their maps, trying to figure out where they are. We see a few strange characters walking about, there is one guy who walks by several times, and he has a piece of paper stuck on the back of his coat which reads "boite a caca" (which means, believe or not.......box or hole of sh*t!!!) We didn't want to think about that one too much. The bar directly across from us is obviously a gay hangout and we watch as a group of lesbian girlfriends sit and chat, all dressed very fashionably in a uniquely Parisian way. One has her little dog on a leash and he sits very nicely on her lap as she feeds him some bread from her baguette. Now, this is Paris!

We each have 2 drinks and it is now past 7:30, so we drag ourselves from this little corner of the world and make our way to the restaurant. I am not a big drinker besides wine with dinner so 3 marguritas has made me very happy! The restaurant is as we remember it, very cozy with magazines and plastic toys strewn all over every nook and cranny (I know it sounds strange, but it works, in a silly sort of way). This was Den's favourite restaurant last May, and he has wanted to come back and enjoy the Marquis de Chocolat dessert since then.

There is a very reasonable menu at 25 euros for 3 courses. We both order the escargots bourgogne to start and they are as wonderfully plump and chewy as Den remembers them from last time. I have the St Jacques, which are scallops grilled very simply and served with a baked potatoe, couscous (!) and veggies (sorry, I can't remember which veggies from my alchohol induced haze!) and Den has cassalet, a mixture of duck magret and beatifully rare beef tournedoes with potatoes and onions served in a cast iron pot. Everything is delicous and goes very well with the wine which we asked our waiter to recommend. It is a rose (that's all I remember and all that's on the bill!) and is served nicely chilled in a cute wine bucket. We chat with the waitress about Paris, Canada, the cost of living, winter, kids, grandkids and lots of other stuff. Since we are dining early by Parisian standards, the restaurant is still fairly empty and she has time to spend with us. We remember her from last year, as well as the cook and the young guy who showed us to our table. We have a great meal and finish off with Den's decadent Marquis de chocolat, a slice of chocolate ganache covered with chocolate sauce and whipped cream on the side. I have a sugar crepe which is lovely and a little lighter than Den's chocolate fantasy! Dinner is 71 euros, a great deal for such homey, honest food. We see that there is live jazz tomorrow night, so we may be back if we don't get lured by another great restaurant ~ there's just too many of them in Paris! We walk back to our place, a little drunk and very happy to be in the City of Lights. We know how lucky we are to be able to enjoy such a wonderful vacation and we realize that we are in love with Paris. There was talk of Italy next year, but we both think we will be back in this city that has bewitched us. We just need to persuade the brokers I work with to buy an apartment in Paris as an investment!!!

We are back in the apartment a little after 11pm and call it a night. Tomorrow, we plan to stay close to the Marais and explore our neighborhood. There is a general strike planned for May 22, so it will probably be a good time to stay out of the public transportation and museums and just stay close to home.

Good night Paris............we love you.

Jo

Comments (1)

Brenda:

Jo and Den,
Gotta tell ya, I'm loving reading your blog! I'm bringing my 18 year old granddaughter to London and Paris in July, and I can hardly wait to find your great shopping places!
You shop just like me...so when you've time, after you have settled in back at home, I'd so appreciate some directions to the areas you are discovering. If you don't mind sharing, that is.
A wonderful read for me, every single day!

Thanks for taking the time to post your days on this lovely blog!
Au voir, mes amis...
Brenda

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