Tag Archives: Shopping in Paris

Marchés de Noël

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. As you may have noticed, I took a break from blogging and went back to the US to be with friends and family for the holidays. It was a wonderful trip, although it was strange to be speaking so much English at first! I came back to Paris just in time for New Year’s and celebrated at the Eiffel Tower with friends (it was a bit chaotic and very anticlimactic).

This week I moved into a new apartment. I crossed the Seine into the right bank. I will miss my old neighborhood in the 6th arrondissement, but it’s just a short walk from my new apartment. Besides, I’m looking forward to exploring a new neighborhood here for a while.

Being in Paris in December was fun. All of the bars, cafés, restaurants, and shops put up garland and ornaments and lights. Many streets had lights strung up over the street between the buildings. It was pretty and festive.

One of the many things they do in Paris at Christmas is the Marchés de Noël (Christmas markets). There are many in the Paris area, but the biggest and most

Lots and lots of chocolate

famous one is on the Champs-Élysées. White wooden stalls line the streets selling gifts and treats. They have roasted chestnuts, mulled wine,  and candied nuts to snack on while you look at the chocolate, cheese, meats, toys, and scarves in other stalls. It’s fun to walk and look at all the stalls and lights while snacking.  The Champs-Élysées is chaos, but it’s worth seeing. I prefer the smaller markets though. They’re not so packed and you can easily walk through them.


What a crazy week!!! I found an apartment (hooray!), moved into said apartment, and started classes. Whew!

So far, classes in France are a lot like my undergraduate classes were. This is because, for them, law school is an undergraduate major. So it’s a huge lecture hall where the professors talk at the students for an hour and half and the students transcribe every word the professors say in paragraph form. Needless to say, I am getting notes from my new-found French friends. Their notes are flawless transcriptions of the class! It’s amazing! My notes are sparse. Just listening, I can understand 50-80% of what the professors are saying (except for one professor, who speaks very quickly and has a naturally soft voice). But when I try to take notes and I start writing, things go south quickly. My French is not good enough to listen and write at the same time. I write, then I start to listen again, and I’m completely lost for a minute because I’ve missed some critical piece of information while I was writing. So I try to take some notes, but mostly I try to listen and rely on my extremely kind French classmates for notes.

Overall, the week was spent organizing the apartment (have I mentioned that I have the greatest apartment in all of Paris? it’s perfect.), going to classes, and fighting with the administration to get properly registered. But on Wednesday, I had some retail fun.

Paris is the fashion capital of the world. However, for most of us mere earthlings (especially those of us on student-sized budgets), the clothes are EXPENSIVE!!!!! The whole city is one big shopping-tease. You look into window after window of the most gorgeous, unique, outrageous, elegant, stylish clothes, and then you look at the little price marker next to them and your heart misses a beat. You don’t even bother converting the euros into dollars, because that would just make it worse.

Other than H&M and Zara, my only Paris fashion experiences had been the sort of lèche-vitrine (“window-licking,” or what we refer to as window-shopping) I’ve just described. But this week I discovered Paris’s dépôt-ventes. They are second-hand luxury fashion stores where you can buy the most exclusive brands at a fraction of the price! Now, sometimes a fraction of the price is still a high number, but in general you can find affordable couture. I was thrilled to find Chercheminippes in the 6th arrondissement. I bought some fantastic new (to me) designer clothes and I didn’t break the bank. It was great.

I promised to increase the multimedia-to-text ration on the blog, so I will take my camera for some outings this weekend. I haven’t forgotten. I’ve just been at home or school most of the week. Neither occasion merited camera-use.

Happy Friday everyone! Bon week-end!

Shakespeare & Company Bookstore

I just went to the most wonderful place. I have a few posts I need to catch up on, but this place was so incredible that I need to write about it right now, before I forget anything! Photos were forbidden, so you will just have to come and see it for yourself.

Today I am free as a bird, with no classes and no immediately pressing business to take care of. (This is my first such day in Paris.) I am getting over a cold, so I had a very lazy morning sleeping in, reading a book, and catching up on NPR podcasts. It’s a beautiful day, so I eventually decided to venture out. I went to a park across the street to read a book for a while in the shade from Notre Dame, but then it got a little too warm and I wanted to go inside. I decided to go to Shakespeare & Company, which is just around the corner from my apartment.

I had originally heard of Shakespeare & Company years ago, when I was studying abroad in Italy. We were nearing the end of our program, and my friend was planning to travel to Paris afterward. I asked where she would stay, since we were all out of money at that point. She told me she had heard that artists can stay at a famous bookstore there in exchange for helping out in the bookstore. She told me all about the bookstore and the bohemian artists there. I always remembered the name of the bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, and today I finally visited it.

When I first walked in, I was immediately struck by the endless amount of books covering every imaginable surface. Wooden bookshelves cover every wall, above every doorway, and underneath and along the staircase. Even the walkways between rooms are narrow because one side is covered in bookshelves. The books are lined up on the shelves, and if there is room left at the top they are stacked horizontally on top of the books. Oh, and they are in English, which is wonderful for a bibliophile ex-pat like me.

There are nooks and crannies everywhere, and the little kid in me immediately wanted to explore. The store is somewhat of a small labyrinth; the floorplan is haphazard, leaving you to discover the poetry, fiction, mysteries, art, etc. as you wind through the store. The random layout of the store is probably due to the fact that the owner kept extending the store by purchasing apartments and stores next to and above his original small shop. The walls are stone (although you can’t see much of them behind all the books), and the ceilings have exposed beams, as many places in Paris do. The floors are stone with tiles laid in them in a kind of random mosaic. The rooms have cool names like “The Blue Oyster Tearoom” and “The Old Smokey Reading Room.” There is a covered hole in the ground where you can throw coins for the starving artists at Shakespeare & Company.

The downstairs is where all of the new books for sale are kept. When you climb the stairs, you reach the library. None of the books in the library are for sale; they are there for anyone to sit and read. There are many couches and chairs and books. The windows in the front room open out onto a view of the Notre Dame. There are beds up there where artist/guests stay, a chess set, and even a piano. The owner’s motto is painted onto a wall: “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.” There is also a kind of “writer’s hut,” which is like a child’s fort. There are walls built around it maybe four feet high with an opening. There are small colorful lights on the outside, and inside is a chair and a desk with a typewriter on it. There is also another typewriter in a room with couches. Anyone is allowed to use the typewriters in the library.

The upstairs rooms encircle a courtyard that begins on the second floor and uses the roof of the first floor as the ground. Today there was an artist who had climbed out into the courtyard and was gluing model airplanes suspended from fishing wire in the courtyard. She was chatting up to another artist who was staying in another room on the other side of the building.

The entire shop was quite an experience. I will definitely be back, probably frequently. I highly suggest coming here to look around, read a book, buy a book, and maybe even write a book. This place is so unique. Visitors to Paris should definitely experience it.