Paris:- Wednesday, 15. May 1996:- I hope you have
had a good rest and a pleasant breakfast. While you finish
off the café, have some fun discussing as what you
are going to do today, going to try and see, where you are
going to go.
When you get outside you will notice that it is a bit chilly with this wind, the sky is pretty grey all over and the air is damp. After a couple of minutes you will be cold and if you think a bit of brisk walking - Paris is made for walking isn't it? - is going to warm you up... forget it. In your nice new spring clothes, you will be freezing and miserable inside of a half-hour.
This has happened to me several times and it is always the same. You try to imagine that it is not so bad, but by the time you decide it is, then it is worse than ever - because you have put off a disagreeable little chore you should have done immediately after taking two steps out the door.
You need a sweater, raincoat and an umbrella. You could have brought all this stuff with you - but - Paris! In the spring! So you didn't.
You want any old thing; something cheap, because it is not in the budget - stuff to be left behind - because you've got your good stuff at home. And you want this new stuff fast, so as little time as possible gets wasted.
As a public service, I went shopping for you - for a sweater, raincoat and an umbrella - at Tati, on the rue de Rennes, in Montparnasse. This branch of Tati is in the old Felix Potin building, just next to the big fnac store.
I see the front of Tati has had some ironwork awning added;
but there are no stalls out on the sidewalk today as I
expected. Inside, it is the usual visual confusion; but
ladies stuff is on the ground floor and men's, upstairs.
Here is what I found: Lady's raincoat, dark blue or beige, short length - 299 francs, a bit pricey. Umbrella with wooden shaft and handle, very 'poppy' colors for 49.90, and a thin summer-weight sweater for 39.90 to 89.90. There are kid-sized umbrellas for kids for 12.90, but I forgot about coats and sweaters for them.
Men can get off cheaper, with a serviceable trench-type
raincoat for 99.90 in the same colors as women's. A foldup
umbrella is only 29.90 and I found a fairly thick
brand-name sweat-shirt for 49.90, in the usual 65 percent
polyester and 35 percent cotton mix. Although this is off
the subject a bit, I also saw a selection of light-weight,
but fully-lined, summer sports coats for 69.90. Sporty-type
jackets cost more, but there were some really stout jeans
for 69.90 too. You could conceivably put together a summer
jacket and slacks for 110 francs.
One of Tati's helpful salesladies helped me look for sweaters when I told her why I wanted to see them. She said all the winter ones had been boxed up and shipped back to the warehouse until fall - so we had a good look around for substitutes.
T-shirts cost as much as the sweats so it makes no sense to
buy two t-shirts when one sweat-shirt will do the job. I
think if you really felt you had to have a real sweater
you'd have to go down to around the Opéra and search
there. There used to be cashmere ones for 1500 francs and
up, about ten years ago.
Besides there being other Tati locations around Paris (there is one near Montmartre), there are also discount shops that sell out-of season clothes, de-labeled. Not far from the Tati, there is a place on the boulevard Raspail that has super winter jackets; those ones that make you look like the balloon man and they are about 50 percent off their winter price of 800 francs and up.
If you are not in Montparnasse, all of the big department
stores have outside stalls on the sidewalks, and it seems
to me that I have seen them selling things according to
what the weather is doing - like umbrellas. These stalls
are in operation all year round and can also be a form of
street amusement as they always have somebody demonstrating
the latest kitchen gizmo - and - you never know; these
might make inexpensive oddball souvenirs to take home.
And Damart? This is the French company that usually advertises in winter, for their thermal undergarments, 'Moi froid? Jamais!'
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