Paris Style At a Discount

photo: bistro, rue st charles
A typical tiny bistro, in the Rue Saint-Charles.

More 'Cultural' Strikes

Paris:- Sunday, 3. January 1999:- Discount frenzy started in Paris yesterday and Parisians flocked downtown with or without New Year's hangovers to mob the shops; to search for that cute little skirt for 800 francs - knocked down from 1600.

These annual sales, which are officially regulated, will continue until 13. February. The main rule is, stores may only sell what they had in stock a month before the first day of the sales - they cannot re-stock or bring in special 'sale' stock.

This means that as the sales continue, pricesphoto: le parisien, 31.12.98 tend to drop even further. However, despite the crowds yesterday, some of the best stuff got snapped up. If you wait until Friday, 12. February, you may get an article for 90 percent off, but it might not be exactly what you had in mind.

I thought the 'last' New Year's Eve would be the next one; but maybe Le Parisien knows better.

Watch for the 'Soldes' signs which designate the official sales. All items 'on sale' must have their original price clearly marked, and signs saying 'no returns - no exchanges' do not exonerate merchants from their legal guarantees protecting buyers against defect goods.

For items not specifically marked with a 'sales' sticker, you can always haggle - even at times when the 'soldes' are not official. The rule in Paris is, an eyebrow raised at almost any price, should get 10 percent off.

The main items 'on sale' are clothing; and at this time of year this means winter garments. This means that this year's style is 'on sale.' If you don't care, or shop carefully, a year-old style can certainly be worth it at half price. Most discounts are in the 30 to 50 percent-off range.

Sales Alternative

If you can't find what you want on or by 13. February, why not pop over to the Théâtre de Paris and see Gerard Depardieu starring in 'Les Portes du Ciel,' an original piece by Jacques Attali, an ex-advisor to the late President Mitterrand. I think it's about Carlos Cinco, who was a very interesting man in very interesting times. The play is set for 90 performances. Info. Tel.: 01 48 74 25 37.

Background to the 'Cultural Strikes'

Last week it was the Arc de Triomphe's turn to turn away visitors wanting to examine the wonders to be seen from its summit. TV-news showed the Arc's staff holding big banners, saying 'On Strike.'

I examined the situation one day last week and found visitors muddling about its base, but the strikers were probably on their lunch break.

The reasons for this series of strikes at a variety of Paris monuments is emerging only by fits and starts. Le Parisienphoto: arc de triomphe, 30.12.98 has been saying that success has been the spoiler, with record crowds overwhelming museum and monument staffs.

Hapless visitors reading the Arc de Triomphe's insprictions last week, instead of taking in its magnificant view.

Apparently the Culture Ministry has not budgeted for any extra staff to handle the current extra traffic. In the case of the Arc de Triomphe, 50 of the 70 workers are not full-time employees. They are paid the minimum wage and by the day; and some have been in this situation for 15 years.

The time-bomb which has been ticking for years, went off when next year's budget was announced. It foresees the creation of n new permanent positions.

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