Paris is a city that people live IN, they wear it like a glove, millions of them. It seems that none of them live in the suburbs … they live in the city centre where they work, where they go to school, where they shop, where they socialise and protest (they love to protest).
Aside from the stores that tourists frequent, the streets are filled with a mix of small stores that cater for Parisians daily needs and their WANTS. They have many wants …. wants that are far from basic needs.
They do ‘WANT’ with style. And of course, they indulge themselves.
Fine food, fine coffee, fine clothes, fine chocolate, fine paper, fine ……. their preference for very, very stylish – EVERYTHING – means that you find an eclectic collection of stores in every street, and no two streets alike.
The big multi-national shopping centres that have destroyed small businesses in other cities around the world, don’t appear to have damaged the traditional Parisian infrastructure. The big stores thrive but so do the ‘corner’ stores – and every store between corners. Parisians simply won’t accept things being forced on them. An Italian publisher ( unknown to me) is quoted as saying: “the first word of French that a baby learns is `Non’ and the first complete sentence is ` It is not possible’. Unless of course the French want it – in which case it’s no problem at all.
I spent Christmas / New Year in an apartment in a small street located in the St Germaine district of Paris – a five-minute walk from the Louvre. Only three blocks long and not part of the tourist hub, it is typical of many of the streets Margot and I walked during our stay.
We visited few museums …. not just because of the long, long queues, cold and drizzle, but because we enjoyed walking the streets, meeting the locals and attempting to understand what makes Paris tick. There is no greater joy than wandering into a cafe ( or any place – park, store or public transport) full of locals and striking up conversation. It was easy … that is once they realised we were Australian. Their pretense of not understanding a word of English simply faded into perfect English. It seems the same rules don’t apply for the English and they pick and choose which Americans they can understand.
Let me share with you a sample of our experience ….. a brief depiction of the stores in our street?
Follow the photo captions ….. and no …. this isn’t a special street. There were no stores that only sold vacuum cleaners or toothbrushes for left-handed people ( they exist … I’m sure) but none the less it was amazing. The street was only 3 blocks long and this election is from just our block.
I haven’t included any of the one-off cloths stores, I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.
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