Several weeks ago I was wandering around central Paris, probably between students, when I noticed that I started to see the word "soldes" in various windows about town. Because I frequently make thoughts far more complicated than need be, my brain totally glossed over what the word soldes meant and therefore what was happening in Paris. It was actually my Japanese student who, when I asked what her plans were for the weekend, mentioned that she was going to hit the sales. Oooooh right... the Sales.
As far as I know, in the U.S. stores can choose whenever they'd like to have a sale based on their own needs and desires. In France, on the other hand, sales are government regulated. Two times a year, once in January and once in July, there are epic sales that traverse the streets of Paris. It's apparently a red-taped hassle to have a sale outside of these time periods, so all the shops hop on board and the prices are progressively slashed lower and lower as the weeks go by. Not only that, but we're talking about regular merchandise here. It's not just the end of season leftovers that hang in a little corner for overworked and underpaid derelicts to pilfer through. From couture down to cheap chains, the discounts abound and everyone takes advantage.
In true Parisian fashion, stores glimmer with beautiful signs heralding their bargain buys. Parisians don't care for ugly and they certainly won't have some grotty sales sign destroying their regal facade. Some of the less unique establishments roll out their stock signs, but most of the smaller boutiques take the time to create displays that beckon all the passersby to enter. Like a siren call from a seductive mermaid, I don't think anyone can remain immune to the sound of the sales throughout its impressive run. I myself bought a bag, a flowery romper, and a white eyelet dress. None of them cost more than €20 and all were stunning and essential... says the bargain-intoxicated fashion zombie blinded by the radiance of the soldes...
Happily, the sales are just about at an end until the new year dawns and they shine their great beacon down on Paris once again. In the meantime, we have the memory of their glow in the pictures and products we cherish.