Thursday, January 13, 2011

Les Soldes!

On the heels of Epiphany (note to self: run out and snag one of the last king cakes in the window of the nearest boulangerie before they disappear for another year...) the next religious holiday showed up in town yesterday in full splendor and, lucky for us, sun-drenched!

Yes, dear readers, I'm talking about Les Soldes

(Moment of silence, please.)

January 12th marked the first of a stretch of days dedicated to the winter sales. In France, before 2009, business owners were allowed (by law) two periods of six week stretches called The Sales of Winter and The Sales of Summer. The dates were established by official publication from Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes some French bureaucratic agency or other.

But in 2008, a law designed to modernize the economy amended the previous regulation to Les soldes fixes, d'hiver et d'été* (5 weeks each) and Les soldes libres** or flottants** (2 weeks). Outside of these two regulated periods for official soldes, merchants may also now do promotional sales and/or sales to liquidate stock.

In years past, I've seen slower easing into the seasonal sales with discounts in the 20% to 30% range as a start. Not this year! I'm here to tell you that the little financial crise*** being suffered in the Old World has led to knock-out bargains: 50% right out of the gate!


Perhaps they're hoping to strengthen the wobbly euro currency before it begins its predicted tumble. (I do not wish further financial crisis on my lovely European host country, but I do root for the dollar to make a storming come back screaming, "I am still relevant!")

Although I was only able to lacher les vitrines****, I joined my French friends on the first day of the seasonal ritual and raised my mistral-kissed face to the sunny skies in joy and gratitude for the possibility to stretch my dollar euro in a good old-fashioned American way: with a bargain!

Viva les soldes!


* fixed sales of winter and summer
** free or floating sales
*** crisis
**** licking the windows (window shopping)


donna said...

a sale ( in any country ) brings a : ) to my face!

la fourchette said...

donna, I don't see a lot of smiles on the savvy shoppers in the streets here in Aix - it's a cultural thing. I'm guessing they're smiling on the inside, though!

Je m'appelle Cynthia said...

I've read that January sales time is a great time to go to Paris - and your post really tells the story. I wouldn't mind shopping the sales in Paris - heck, I wouldn't mind shopping the regular prices too. I NEED to go to Paris just to shop. That's a trip in and of itself.

la fourchette said...

I think *any* time is a great time to go to Paris...but the sales bring it to a new level of great! I was in Paris during the summer sales a few years ago. It was worth braving the heat to wander in and out of stores for little Parisienne additions to my wardrobe.

I would have to agree: You need to get to Paris!


Betty C. said...

Interesting information. I have seen the strict "sales" periods be flaunted, but I guess it is legal now with the "2 special weeks" law.

BTW, it's "lècher les vitrines."

Aix in black and white almost looks like Rodez :)

la fourchette said...

Betty C., I've also seen them 'skirt' (yes, pun intended) the regulations with odd sales here and there (like "going out of business" sales...but not really.) This newish law relaxes things and landed just as the financial crisis was beginning to be felt here so I'm sure the merchants were relieved to be able to draw shoppers in more than just twice a year.

Right you are. Thanks for catching my spelling error (and I *know* this one - I wrote a little book with this title!) Correction made.

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