France is firmly in Euroland, the new currency accepted right across Europe (except for the UK and Switzerland).
Some French however hanker back for the days when the French Franc was the only currency in town. Hence a few relics remain, as in the picture. It will however only accept the new-fangled Euro's in it's tills.
This shop (if you really want to buy some cheaply produced tat) is just north of the Gare St Lazare on Rue Amsterdam
UPDATE 2014 : it must have gone by now, but it would be wonderful if someone could confirm...no trace on the internet
My husband got a little French lesson from a local police officer one afternoon when he enquired "Ou est le metro?" The policeman looked at him and said very slowly "Bon jour". My husband, thinking he didn't understand his French, tried again "Ou est le metro?" Once again he responded very slowly "Bon jour". By now my husband understood and said "Bon jour, ou est le metro?" to which he replied in very clear English with very specific instructions.
So don't forget the formalities, whether it be upon entering or leaving a hotel, restaurant or shop or whether asking directions on the street, a cheery bon jour (good day) or bon soir (good evening) will go a long way to helping you get the right answer or good service.
For all the dates and times of the government sponsored sales.
When I meet visitors to Paris, they are often searching the city looking for a bargain, disappointed to not see any sale signs in their favorite boutiques. Let me tell you why--in France, by law, sales (“soldes”) are held only twice a year, with one sale period starting in January and the other in July. The government decides when the sales will be held and announces the official dates just days before the sales start. The stores then flutter around getting ready and shopaholics (myself included!) wait with bated breath for the opening day of the sales. Sale prices start at about 25-30% off for the first few days, and grow bigger as the sales go on. By the end of the sales [6 weeks maximum], the reductions can be up to 75% off.
I couldn't resist the old-fashioned sign in the pharmacy window :))))
According to the website: "Utilisé pour soulager les irritations de la gorge. " that is, use to soothe a sore throat :) Try the French website for more information;)
When visiting Paris for a shopping Weekend be warned... a great deal of the shops close on Sundays. I dragged my wife around The Louvre all day Saturday saying that she can have a whole day shopping up and down the Champs-Elysee on the Sunday... All we could find open were a few coffee shops and a street market and the Paris branch of Marks & Spencers (similar to one 3 miles away from us in England) - I did treat her to Champagne up the Eiffel Tower.
- Travel while you're young! In most museums and attractions, people under the age of 25 get a really good discount :o)
- Most museums close at 6:00 pm, if not earlier, so make sure to plan your day accordingly.
- It is quite possible to travel to Paris on a budget: walking around is free, so is visiting all the beautiful churches, and there are no entrance fees for cemeteries and some of the smaller museums (Victor Hugo's and Balzac's houses for instance). To visit the other museums and monuments, the best thing to do is to condense your museum days in 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days and buy a museum pass (30, 45 and 60 Euros, respectively) - you'll save a lot!
- Speaking English only shouldn't be too much of a problem - almost every time I spoke in French, people replied in English!?!?! (I really can't believe my Quebecois accent is THAT bad!)
- Most restaurants' kitchens are closed in the afternoon and will only serve sandwiches so if you really want to eat lunch, make sure you do so at noon.
- Service is included everywhere you go, but if the waiter was nice, you can leave an extra 5-10% tip.
- Again, if you're traveling on a budget, you can save a lot by eating a baguette for lunch - actually, that's what most Parisians do! There are plenty of bakeries around the city and most restaurants also have a little take-out counter where you can get a delicious sandwich (curry chicken, dry sausage, goat cheese, country ham... the list is endless!) for about 3-5 Euros.
- There are many young women panhandling in all the touristic sites. Most will come up to you and ask if you speak English, then show you a piece of paper with a story about a sick younger brother on it. They're not really pushy, so you can just walk away.
- In case you're wondering, the free public restrooms aren't that bad (and chances are you're gonna need to use them at some point as there are no convenient store/doughnut shop-type of places where you can stop to use the restrooms).
1.Don't buy too much at anyone place.
Often they forget to give you one of the packages and you only realize it when you unpack everything at home.
2. Everyone must queue up in line and wait to be served.
It is terribly inefficient so go early when there are not too many people around, or be prepared to wait in long lines
during the most popular hours.
Mostly, you must ask for the foods and they will be selected for you. Rarely can you select them yourself.
3. Samples are given out at many of the booths at the market.
It is best to taste what is offered before you buy so you know for sure this is what you want.
Returns of any kind are not done in France-or rarely done.
4. Going to the market is a fascinating experience.
Go in comfortable clothing with comfortable shoes.
Take your own shopping bags and maybe your own cart on wheels.
If you do not bring a cart and end up needing one, most likely you can buy one at the market.
Outdoor or covered markets are where you observe the people of France.
This market, run by Arab stallholders, is held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings only.
Watch out here. Taste the food first. The quality is often very low.
Above it runs the metro line No. 2 (the market is between the Barbès Rochechouart and La Chapelle stations).
When it rains the little stores and bookstalls in the tourist areas put up their plastic "walls" and put out the "parapluie" sign. An umbrella for 4,50 euro isn't too bad! As you can see this is a typical small shop in the Latin Quarter selling post cards and scarves!
The Paris kiosque ranges from a simple advertising spot to those that unfold into newstands. The design is historic, but not without its limitations. [Read the article cited on the website mentioned below]. This kiosque is one of the smaller ones, on ave. Bousquet, I think. It caught my eye as the historic design with the green trim was a stark contrast with the modern posters. They are a good source of foreign newspapers as well as the ever-helpful "Pariscope".
The second picture is of the one referred to in the Welty-Rochefort article cited below. It is at Place Gambetta and was taken from Bar Metro, where we had the pleasure of meeting the author! [More in a later tip.]
The shop signs in Paris are often interesting. A good place to find them is in the passages on the right bank.
This one is for a bookstore that both buys and sells caught my eye inside Galerie Vivienne.
Paris is a fantastic city to indulge in window shopping or in French, leche vitrine. Leche vitrine means licking the window. Of course, you are not to take that term literally. But with all the absolutely nice items that are displayed in the windows you may feel like licking the windows as the everything looks so delicious.
One nice window shopping street is along the rue St. Honore in the 8th district. There are many designer stores along this street. Other haute couture shopping streets are on the Ave. Montaigne and the Place Vendome.
For nice winow displays of antiques head to the St. Germain district. Any of the small streets contain many nice displays. One pretty street to explore is the rue Jacob.
Everyday you will notice that the Parisians go shopping for food at the neighborhood shops and/or street markets. For example, at the rue Mouffetard and rue Buci street markets, they are busy from morning until closing time. Locals hurriedly check out each produce stall and shop in the hopes of buying some fresh food to take home for dinner and/or supper.
If the Parisians don't have the time (due to working in offices) to drop by the markets then they make do with the shops that open later than the street markets. Around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, quite a few people leave work and head to the shops to buy the night's meal: boulangerie, fromagerie, bucherie, and of course the best shop of all, the patisserie. When you pass these shops you will notice huge lines. It seems to me that the patisseries garner the most lines. ;)
And there are times when the supermarkets are overflowing as well. It could be that on a given Monday night around 7 p.m. you will find huge lines at the neighborhood Monoprix! The Lafayette Gourmet is busy from the afternoons! Everyone waiting in line looks so tired (well, of course, they've just come from the office) and disgusted as they've got their shopping carts filled and they just want to check out and leave! But the cashiers, who sit down on the jobs, take it nice and slow no matter how long the lines get!
This is one slice of Parisian life that is so different than what we Americans know, and if you decide to do some food shopping as well, go earlier in the day to save time.
Each year, from the last week of november on , Paris begin to wear her Christmas clothes.
Streets are alight and decorated.
One of the most impressive displays can be found Boulevard Haussmann, with the 'contest' between the 'senior citizen' among parisian department stores.
While Printemps focuses more on fashion designers (in 2004 the lights and window decos were signed Christian Lacroix), Galeries Lafayettes rely on a more traditional style (lights mimicking stain glasses and automatons in the windows).
After sunset, the street becomes overcrowded by people coming as much to have a look at those ornaments as to do their Xmas shopping (even so crowded that platforms, delimited by banisters, are erected in front of the windows in order to allow the smaller children to see the automatons and toys without beeing bumped or squashed).
more photos here
One of the pure joys of shopping for anything-except for baguettes-in Paris is the art of how your purchases are presented to you.
When you go to the patisserie or to the chocolatier, your purchases are presented in a nicely wrapped bag or box. At Laduree, for example, when you purchase pastries en masse, the clerks place them neatly in their signature celadon-colored box and place them in their signature celadon-colored shopping bag. Macarons are boxed in tiny celadon-colored boxes.
If you go to a chocolatier, no matter if you buy a few pieces of chocolates, your purchases will be placed in a signature bag and may be even tied up wih ribbon.
This is so unlike the US where your purchases are just thrown into a bag and given to you. Shopping is fun in Paris!