Les Soldes Paris – The Diva’s Bargain Shopping Route

READER WARNING!

If you are not a serious bargain shopper, do not bother reading any further.

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I like Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Loubouton as much as the rest of you, but in fact, I hate to spend money on clothes. I’d rather spend my euro on antiques and on travel, thus, I shop only a few times a year and always buy bottom-dollar on sale. I save the Hermes, Chanel and Dior purchases as presents from my husband – putting in requests years in advance on “major wants” so that I have time to drop continual hints until he picks up on it and eventually returns home with little blue sacks and the like.

In today’s blog I’m going to take you on a tour of my favorite stores in Paris – in fact, I’m going to walk you through the very route I shop twice a year at the Paris sales. Not only that, but I’m also going to fess up, showing some of my most sensational buys. I might play the diva on the internet, but I was a “recessionista before the recession was cool”. You can blame it on my CFO-husband if you like – he’s all about the numbers, budgeting and the like – but truth be told, even without his ever-present spreadsheet, I love nothing more than a bargain! I have dozens of cocktails dresses, but would you believe I’ve purchased one of those dazzling dresses for as low as 15 Euro, marked down from 300 Euro, at the Paris sales?

And of course, while I’m out shopping for bargain fashion, I always tend to find myself stumbling into antique shops, decorating stores and specialty boutiques… They don’t call me The Antiques Diva™ for nothing, after all.

So set back, fasten your seat belt and get ready to

STOP

DROP

and

SHOP!

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The Antiques Diva Exclusive Bargain Shopping Paris’ Les Soldes

When: Day One – The Paris Sales
Repeat Route: Last Week Paris Sales

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sj5lmkXLE3I/AAAAAAAADKw/KRrxiY1SaYs/s320/paul.jpg” border=”0″ />8.30 am Chez Paul – Corner Rue de Buci and Rue de Seine. I take a seat and order a café crème and les escargot at Chez Paul. No, I didn’t order snails for breakfast; Paul merely affectionately calls their pain au raisin “snails”. Study Paris 6eme arrondisment map. Review shopping “needs and wants list”. Verify pin codes for all credit cards. Confirm appropriate attire in place for shopping day – today it’s leggings, a tank top and long cashmere wrap that pulls off in one motion allowing me to stand in the aforementioned, trying on clothes in the middle of the store when the lines for the dressing rooms are too long. I’m ready for action.

9.00 am – Get waitress’ attention, “l’addition, s’il vous plait”.

9.30 am – Attempt repeatedly to flag down waitress. Waitress expertly ignores my pleas. Eventually lets me pay my bill and I remind myself that I’ve made my first mistake of the day: bring correct change next time. I walk out the door and across street to O & Co at #28 Rue de Buci. They often don’t do “les soldes” but I pick up some Mandarin Orange Olive Oil and soap even though they are not on sale. Second mistake of the day: only shop for sales. Time is money. And using time to shop for non-sale items isn’t maximizing my day. I’d best get better.

to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sj5lrSzOUoI/AAAAAAAADK4/DtrJUKJYlW8/s320/flowers.jpg” border=”0″ />9.45 am – Meander back towards Paul, past the line out the front door, and past the flower market and café where my mom sat next to Karl Lagerfeld. I walk towards end of Rue de Buci to Allison at # 3.

9.55 am – I wait at the door for the store to unlock at 10am. Store clerk sees me and 4 other ladies lingering and she takes pity on us, opening the door early. My favorite brands are all on sale at Allison – Antiek Batik, Maje, See by Chloé and Paul & Joe. For the sales they mark clothes down with dots, everything with green dot 50E, blue dot 75E, red dot 100E, black dot 150E etc… I walk past all these dots at the front of the tiny store and work my way to the back of the store. Along the far wall they usually post their serious sales here.

Would you believe I bought this dress below for only 15E at Allison? Marked down from 300E – granted the price was majorly inflated to begin with, but at 15E I would have been stupid not to have bought it. In fact, my friend The Swiss Miss bought the same dress at the same time!

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And this one for only 30E? Marked down from 150E

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Both dresses were purchased at Allison several summers apart! Don’t I look young in this last picture? I was in my late 20’s! My how time flies!

10.30 am – Cross the street (Rue de Buci) to tores/73.store_paris.6.htm” target=”_blank”>Taschen Book Store and check out the sale table sitting outside for calendars as well as travel, decorating and art books. I stock up on hosting presents.

10.45 am – Turn right from Rue de Buci onto Rue de l’Ancienne Comedie (but before doing so, I jog back to the left on Rue Mazarine to peek into some art gallery windows). To relieve guilt of any further spending which is about to commence, I go to # 3 ton.html” target=”_blank”>Café Coton and pick up a f
ew French-cuff dress shirts for my husband. He looks dazzling in French blue.

11.05 am – Duty fulfilled, I walk down a few doors to # 7 and hit Rene Derhy for casual prêt a porter and brightly colored summer dresses. Another bargain scored! I picked this sweet casual summer sundress ½ price for 35E.

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sj5kuJCfM8I/AAAAAAAADJg/WJ3Lery_lUU/s320/011.JPG” border=”0″ />Of course, an even better Rene Derhy purchase was this cocktail dress down from 130E to 40E.

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11.20 am – From Rue de l’Ancienne Comedie, I cross Boulevard St. Germain to Rue de Conde and turn right onto Rue St. Sulpice. First stop, # 23 today.com/travel/destinations/cityguides/paris/wheretoshop.htm+Marie+Merci+23+Rue+St+Sulpice&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk” target=”_blank”>Marie Mercie, a husband and wife hat-making team that sells off-the-rack and haute couture hats that are simply to die for. Women’s hats (not on sale) will set you back a hefty 180E, while men’s hats run 100E. Even if I’m not in the market to buy a new hat, I go inside and dream, wishing I had more occasions when I could wear a hat.

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This hat I didn’t buy at Marie Mercie, but instead picked up almost 7 years ago in Provence. I paid 30E at the time and it’s served me well.

11.30 am – I drop by # 23 J.C. Martinez Gravure Anciennes to check out the antique prints, maps, etchings and lithographs. Next stop at # 29 – Maison de Famille.

Noon – “Les Soldes” are too serious and time is too precious to stop for lunch. The breakfast escargots have long since been burned up by the power shopping and now I’m looking for a vendor selling “hot dog on baguette with horseradish”. I chuckle to myself over how it sounds like I said “oat dog” instead of hot dog when I pronounce the word in French.

Rewind. Back-up.

Noon Version 2 – If I’m shopping with my husband, I return to 81, Rue de Seine for entrecote frites at Peres et Filles. Husband returns home/hotel to sleep off lunch.

I continue back to St Sulpice – Resume Tour.

Whilst eating my hot dog lunch, I pause in the square in front of Eglise Saint Sulpice to admire church now of DaVinci Code fame. I search the crowds for Catherine Deneuve exiting her apartment overlooking the square.

to 10px; WIDTH: 266px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sj5lZ6TfeII/AAAAAAAADKQ/r8OwI8Yf0bo/s320/catherine+deneuve.jpg” border=”0″ />She, like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, is one of my style icons. Sexy, glamorous, and classic!

From the Place St Sulpice I follow Vieux Colombier towards Rue de Sevres, turn left passing bizarre statue of man-horse at Carrefour de Croix Rouge. I’ve always meant to stop and read the plaque, but there is no time for that today.

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12.30 pm I window shop my way down Rue de Sevre towards Le Bon Marche, stopping at # 22, Furla offers excellent handbag sales.

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sj5lZcs4UBI/AAAAAAAADKI/YmlyzULAv98/s320/Bon+Marche.jpg” border=”0″ />13.00 hours – I hit Le Bon Marche. It’s my favorite Paris department store, this store built by Gustave Eiffel of Tower fame. While Galleries Lafayette and Printemps are larger, I’m a Left Bank Girl. Admittedly, the sales aren’t as good at Bon Marche as at the aforementioned, but over the years, I’ve scored some excellent purchases. Take, for example, this pink linen dress originally 180E bought for 75% off – a mere 45E. Another 20-something picture of me!

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14.00 hours – Exit Le Bon Marche onto the Rue de Bac, crossing the street to enter Le Grand Epicerie (Le Bon Marche’s grocery store) to pick up a few picnic essentials to eat under the trees in a small park overlooking the Eiffel Tower. WG and I love sneaking picnics of foie gras and chocolate, champagne and strawberries when we’re in Paris.

14.30 hours – I begin walking from Bon Marche down the Rue de Bac towards Boulevard St Germain, zigzagging across the street to hit # 101 Magna Carta and on corner of Rue de Varene an excellent linen store today.com/travel/extraday/paris/shop.htm” target=”_blank”>Diners en Ville. On the opposite side of road, I watch for # 122 Farman Aviation Antiques to seek out a present for my husband who is hobby pilot. Then off to #116 toir.com/adresses-magasins-vetements.html” target=”_blank”>Le Grand Comptoir, picking up cute accessories for my home at bargain-bin prices and to #108 A La Mine d’Argent for all my silver needs. Then it’s time for the gorgeous home decorating store at #104 Blanc d’Ivoire and at # 100 Du Bout du Monde with its eclectic finds.

One of my favorite Bout du Monde purchases was this star-shaped candle-holder on sale for 12E.

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Oh yes! This reminds me, see the iron garden bench in the background of this picture above? Here’s a better look below…

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sj5lZJvEqLI/AAAAAAAADKA/QqDgIgEhB-E/s320/apartment3.JPG” border=”0″ />That was a Le Cedre Rouge (#116 Rue de Bac) half price purchase for 120E– it barely fit in the backseat of our Volvo when we drove it home from Paris to Amsterdam! Remind me to tell you later about the evolution of this bench from a seat on my roof-top terrace to front center seating in my living room! In fact, if you look at the 4th picture down in this blog of me standing in the door way of my Holland home, over my left shoulder you’ll see this find in its “before” state!

16.00 hours – Turn right from Rue de Bac onto Boulevard St. Germain, shopping in the direction of Eglise St Germain. Hit Fragonard at #196 for perfume and travel accessories, wonderful hosting presents and birthday packages and then Gerard Darel at #174 – keeping my eyes peeled for the 75% off stickers! When shopping the sales one day with Lady Lotus, I found a black silk skirt with a 150E multi-colored butterfly print skirt on sale for 38E. Sadly, though I wear it often, I can’t find a photo of myself in it.

18.00 hours – Exhausted, I stop for a glass of rosé wine at Les Deux Magots. Text my husband from my mobile. “Missing u. Join me 4 drink?” which is code for “I have too many sacks to carry on my own.” I sit, people-watching, believing if I sit here long enough, I watch all the world walk by.

Bonne Shopping and Bonne Chance scoring “les bon marches”!

The Antiques Diva™
(seen right with Le Financier of today’s shopping expedition!)

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Guest Blog – Estate Sale How To’s & Etiquette

A Quick Note From The Diva:

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Today’s Guest Blog is written by my friend tomas-and-round-top-texas-antiques.html” target=”_blank”>(and Name Twin) Toma, author of the toriancobweb.blogspot.com/2008/11/out-about-in-antique-malls.html” target=”_blank”>Victorian Cobweb blog. I call her “The Estate Sale Diva” for her knowledge is so extensive and her list of local contacts so impressive that she earns the title of “Diva of the Month” or as we say here in Holland, “Diva van de Maanden”! She has only recently started her blog, but has already received rave reviews as she lists dates for fairs & sales in the Midwestern and Southwestern parts of the USA. I’m proud of you Name Twin Toma for what you’ve started – keep up the good work!

Ta Ta From The Antiques Diva and Hello From Victorian Cobweb!

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Victorian Cobweb writes:

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Of late I have had so many people ask me, “What is an estate sale?”, “How do you do estate sales?”, “Do you take a number every time you come?” and “How do they work?” For Antiques Diva Readers, I will try to dispel some of the mystery surrounding one of my favorite pastimes!

Usually in your local newspapers or county shoppers, estate sales will be listed in the classifieds under garage sales, for sale, announcements, estate sale, etc. The ads will usually list the company’s contact information, sometimes not. Sales will be hosted by family, friends or sometimes a church, but most will be hosted by an Estate Sale & Liquidation company that is made up of professionals with extensive backgrounds in antiques and appraisals, estates and liquidations. (Stay tuned for another blog on how these professionals get the estate ready for sale.) Some companies will do early sales prior to the actual published start of the sale. It all depends on the company and the contracts with their clients.

Typically, estate sale ads will read: “Numbers will be given at 8 and sale starts at 9″……this is when you will want to be there. If it say’s 8am arrive around 7:30 (or before) to be one of the first to get inside the house. Numbers are only given the first morning for the first couple of hours. This is to keep the influx of people at a minimum for safety and obviously theft. Your main goal is to see the contents of the house, so you have an idea as to what’s there. I hate to miss anything, so I go slowly through the rooms looking closely at everything. If it is a really full house I will go back several times over the course of the 2 or 3 days the sale is going on, as you invariably find more goodies. And as things are sold the company will rearrange and fill in – it’s all a part of the marketing and set up.

Some people like to come early – early bird gets the worm- some come late. I look for what I think is the best sale out of the listings for any given weekend and then make the others as I can. Also, look through the ads for garage/yard/tag sale for more treasure stops along the way. I prioritize the sales in order of importance, then distance from each other – the best first then distance. Get to know the people hosting the sales – get on their email or call lists – ask questions – don’t be afraid to see if you can come early (they might just let you – you never know). Let them know what you’re looking for. If they know that you are a serious buyer you’ll be one of the first they call when they run across something you’re interested in.

Usually, the first day is full price, afternoon of the second day is 25% off, and the last day is 50% off. Most sales will also take offers on items. Don’t forget your manners – drive safely, be courteous of the neighbors lawns, etc., don’t park in others drives or block them. Always remember this I supposed to be fun, take a buddy and make a day of it.

I once went to a sale that was hosted by the church of one of their dearly departed. The lady that had passed had willed the entire house and contents to the church. Let me tell you that was a rather different Sale! I had heard a rumor that the first day was only for the members of the church (the ad in the newspaper had not mentioned this – but being nosey and curious I went anyway) I walked in and was doing my usual perusing of the goodies when someone asked me if I was a member of their church! The thought crossed my mind to lie as I had seen a number of treasures that I coveted, but I didn’t really relish the thought of being damned to hell over a trinket, so I meekly tucked my tail, said “No” and walked out lest lightning strike! I came back the following day when the “public” were allowed only to find my treasures gone!

Another pretty strange sale was when I was in line waiting for the doors to open and a lady came out with a large bowl and asked us to draw a piece of paper out – each piece had a number on it – the number you drew was when you got to come in the house! So if you got there first and you picked #37 – 36 people went before you! Argh! One guy took a peak as he drew his slip of paper and the lady banned him from the sale! Boooo! Needless to say he was rather furious at the whole mess as were most of us. Several left and some of us stayed. Heck, we were already there and had waited that long so why not stay for the whole show!

I hope this has helped in some small way to dispel some of the mysteries of going to Estate Sales!
Thanks Antiques Diva for letting me write to your readers!

Happy Treasuring,

Victorian Cobweb

Guest Blog: Never, Ever Underestimate a Good Rummage Sale

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 214px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/SQyfNWxPHLI/AAAAAAAACHA/Ep3rxPp4y0g/s320/never+underestimate+a+good+rummage+sale.jpg” border=”0″ />The Contessa is back… writing another exciting guest blog for The Antiques Diva™! Join her as she tells what Limoges, Gucci, Carpodiamonte, Lenox and Wedgewood all have in common…

THE CONTESSA WRITES:

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Pop Quiz……What do Limoges, Gucci, Carpodiamonte, Lenox and Wedgewood all have in common? The answer is twofold….1) They are top notch brands of luxury items and 2) They are all items that I have bought at rummage sales!

Rummage sales as they are known in the USA (jumble sales in the UK) are usually held by churches or civic organizations to raise money for a particular project. The members of the group donate all sorts of items that are then laid out for sale, usually in a church hall. Now, here’s the ticket….a lot of people who do not know the value of things or who are elderly and wanting to downsize donate marvelous goods. You can find incredible items for a song! Most of the time the sale is just a one day affair and at the end of the day, the people running the sale just want the stuff gone. This is a great time to make trip number 2 of the day to the sale.

Let me explain. Always, always go to a rummage sale when they first open and scope out the entire sale (I usually skip clothing but you can pick up some designer duds if you are a popular size). If you find something that catches your eye, pick it up and carry it around with you. There is nothing worse than coming back for an item you were considering only to find it gone. If you change your mind you can always put it back. I always first head for the jewelry. A few years ago, I got a beautiful sterling silver brooch with semi-precious stones handmade in Israel for $2. I still to this day have it and I love to tell the tale of where I got it. I then check out all the house wares and miscellaneous goods. That is where I have found the most treasures. Recently I picked up a Limoges tea pot for $3, a sterling silver candy dish for ten cents and a Gucci tote bag for $2. I finish up with purses and books. I rarely come out empty handed and on more occasions than not, have found something really special.

Now about the second return to the sale – a lot of times they will have a bag sale. That’s where you buy a bag for a dollar and everything you can stuff in that bag is yours. One church recently had a sale where if you bought two bags, they gave you a third. Luckily, I was the first one there that morning and completely wiped out the jewelry section in one bag. I love taking it all home and then going through it piece by piece to determine which goes in my jewelry box, which goes in the trash and which can be re-sold at one of my sales. Another bag held about 6 pieces of luster ware, not something to my taste but very collectible none-the-less and there is
a market for it. Bag sales rock!

And while we’re on the subject of rummage sales, don’t over look thrift stores either! Here in upstate New York where I’m from, we have several really good ones. One of my favorites has a half price sale every Wednesday. Everything in the store is half of what it’s marked. Yes, there are days that turn up nothing but it’s fun to look none-the-less. The Goodwill stores here in upstate NY have a dollar sale every Sunday. Clothing that has been there more than a week is tagged with a special tag and it’s only $1. I’m an odd size so I don’t make out good on this one but I know one man who walked out with a Giorgio Armani suit for $1. Bargains like that cannot and should not be passed up! I find the fun is in the searching and then discovering a treasure.

But enough of that for now….. I have to go and clean the Wedgewood I just brought home that I paid a dollar for!

Happy Hunting!

The Contessa

A Couple of The Contessa’s Favorite Sources Around the USA:

– In Salt Lake City…..Deseret Industries
– In Lancaster Co, PA. …..Jubilee (run by the Mennonites)
– In Troy, NY……The Salvation Army
– In Bennington, VT…..The Goodwill Center
– In Cape Cod….during the tourist season, you are likely to find a yard sale on every street!

* Many of the photos in today’s blog come from Bowling Trophy – a blog devoted to answering the question “Trash or Treasure?” Check out: bowlingtrophy.wordpress.com.