If you’re a shopping addict and your dream is to visit a city where every single thing you see is on sale, I’ve got the destination for you:
France. But only in January or July. When the entire country MUST GO!
In France, it is illegal for shopkeepers to just decide one day to have a sale. There is paperwork to be filled out, and stamps to be stamped, and approvals to be given, and then, just for fun, more paperwork. The only time when this is not really an issue is during state-approved times of year – about six weeks starting in early January, and again for six weeks starting in early July.
This is also when French shopkeepers decide to use some of their six allocated Sundays to stay open – usually twice in January, twice in July, and another two in December, depending on what day of the month Christmas falls.
In the week or so leading up to the sales, everyone goes to the stores and peruses. They make lists of the things they want. They hide pieces of clothing or a sets of knives or their favorite books in hard-to-find places in the stores for later retrieval. Every conversation you hear is about people’s grand plans of their wildest shopping dreams coming true. Will their item be included in the sale? How much will it be reduced? Will it be there by the time I make it to the store?
It’s a six-week-long Barney’s Warehouse hell, and every afternoon brings the battle-hardened victors into the cafes around town for a demi or fortifying espresso. It’s truly a time of national unity, and a normal conversation starter is, did you get anything good at the sales?
I must admit, I fell victim to the sales this year. I bought some L’Occitane lotion, a wall hanging for above the bed, some incense, a tealeaf filter thing, and new bedroom slippers. But I also took the time to clear out two trash bags of crap from the house, so I’d call it more than even.