Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shopping in France

Monoprix.  Naf Naf. C&A. Printemps. Galeries Lafayette.

These names have a magic quality in my book.

If you live in France, maybe they sound as prosaic as Target and JC Penny.  But ever since I first encountered them in French textbooks in high school, they have sounded like travel and adventure and excitement to me!

You see, those words are the names of French department stores.  And today's Emma-in-Europe trip report post is going to be all about a wonderful shopping morning in Tours!

SO.  As you may recall, we had just arrived in the Loire Valley the previous morning and had spent the day visiting the amazing castle of Chenonceau.

I don't think I really mentioned our hotel in Tours yet.  It was called the Hotel Vendome.  In the months leading up to this trip, I had been on a mission, scouring TripAdvisor and the internet to find the most charming hotels/b&b's/hostels at the lowest rock-bottom, student-budget prices possible.  The Hotel Vendome was one of the most successful finds in terms of great atmosphere for a great price.  Our room felt like a castle:

Look at that candelabra!  Also, check out the staircase:


You know you're in France when you take a windy, rickety spiral staircase to get to your room!  And the other rooms in the hotel were just as charming.

SO.  We woke up in our castle-like room at the Hotel Vendome quite early.  When you go to Europe, it's just like when you go to Disney: there is no time to waste on sleeping.

It was too early for the shops to be open, so we went to explore a little park down the road that the hotel owners had told us about.  I can't hear about a charming town park without going to explore it!


Ahhhhhhhhh....look at how darling and French it all is.  Why can't American architecture have as much personality as these old balconies and houses and doors?

I was impressed with the flora as well.  I have no idea what those huge leafy things were, aren't they crazy?

Soon we branched out into the city streets.  They were much busier than they had been Sunday morning.  Now they were filled with people hurrying to work!  The shops weren't open quite yet, but at least the window browsing could begin!!


Check out the hat shop (complete with hat box hanging sign!).  And a store advertising "Livres Anciens" - Ancient Books - definitely sounds like my kind of place. :)

The specialty shops are the ones that capture my imagination the most.  Like this one where they make violins!  There was a craftsman inside, with a single lamp on, bent over their workbench!

There was an absolutely astonishing number of children's stores in Tours.  So if you're looking for a good spot to go baby shopping in Europe, this is your city!  I loved the door handle on one of the stores:

A litte snail!  So cute!

This tanning salon (or "centre de bronzage" lol) was called "Hello Sun."  Love it.

Can we appreciate the fact that first: there is a tiny door along that wall and second: someone bothered to paint it bright blue.

Another fun, colofrul detail I spotted was this bright purple chair (missing a leg) waiting out by the trash.  It made me realize: dumpster diving in Europe must be EPIC.  You have about five hundred years of junk to choose from! ;)

Now I realize we haven't gotten to the actual shopping part of the morning yet.  We discovered, after we'd walked past a bunch of the smaller stores, that they were all closed on Monday mornings.  URGH!  They were only open from about 2pm to 7pm.  And they weren't open at all on Sunday!  So different from here in the States where my bookstore's "reduced" hours on Sunday are 10am-9pm.

Luckily the major department store chains (like Monoprix and C&A!!) were open at 10 on Monday.  PHEW!

Let's do some SHOPPING!!  Galeries Lafayette had so many pretty things.  One weird thing though was that they were starting to put out stickers for a sale that wasn't starting for three more days.  There was a really cute pair of pajamas I spotted, but in three days it would be 40% off!  So I decided to wait and see if we could stop in another Galeries Lafayette later in the trip.

Every store we entered had SUCH tempting scarves!  I think it must be a Europe thing.  Before we went on this trip, I wasn't so much a scarf person.  Now, I'm a scarf person.  lol.  And since it was quite chilly for March (spoiler: there would be snow later in the trip), I had the perfect excuse to build a pretty (and warm!) collection!

This selection of scarves was in the menswear department!  Not something you'd see in the US!

The weather outside might have been nippy, but the spring pastels were out in full force on the shelves.  Every shop I entered, I wanted to buy just about everything in it...but sadly luggage and budget restrictions meant that I mostly was just browsing.

How cute are these elevators in C&A?  I had the best luck at C&A: I found a few shirts and my brother found a new coat.  The prices were more budget-friendly there too, which was nice!

I dragged my brother into one last store...MONOPRIX!

More bright and charming colors.  I found a rather chic striped shirt, and when I went to pay for it, the lady at the counter offered me a Monoprix card - a frequent shopper card.

It was free, but I wasn't sure if I could get one since I was visiting from outside the country, but she said it was fine.  So I went ahead and filled out the form!  It was all in French, but I did my best.  And our conversation was all in French too.  I was kinda impressed with myself. ;)

Me and my Monoprix card.  I'm pretty sure I'm an official European shopper now.  Definitely a successful morning!

1 comment:

  1. Your post is very informative. I look forward to returning to Tours and checking out your shopping recommendations. I had a similar experience recently in Provence (and Paris) and posted my shopping experiences at http://secondlivesclub.blogspot.com/2013/07/shopping-in-provence.html. Enjoy your purchases!