quinara: Anya drinking whiskey. (Anya whiskey)
[personal profile] quinara
Clermont won many points today (when did I start dealing with everything in life by a points system? I don't know), all for shopping, which went fairly well. Initially I had a few problems, because I went out towards the shopping centre thinking I'd find somewhere to eat along the way (seven-odd Euros for a posh salad, I was thinking; it's that sort of day - 27/8, apparently it's going to be 31 tomorrow; I might stay in), only to be faced with, well, cafes. Nice looking cafes, all with nice cafe price tags. I thought about eating in a dodgy cafe, but I tend to believe that with naff cafes you still end up paying 6E50 (why is there no Euro sign on my keyboard?) for a croque monsieur, while the ambience just makes you feel a bit like you're dying... So I went into the shopping centre, thinking there might be something interesting in there, but it turned out the only thing going was a PAUL, which I recognised from Marylebone station of all places, but that all looked a bit too much like having to make myself understood at a busy counter. On the first run through the shopping centre, I was also a bit put out by recognising most of the shops - although I'm not sure what I was expecting! Thankfully there wasn't an H&M or a United Colours of Benetton, which I tend to think of as the scourge of European shopping districts (I've never bought anything from UCoB, and usually find that H&M purchases have been a mistake), but there was Zara, naturally, and C&A, which just makes me think of the nineties, and a Habitat still going strong. And a LUSH, which will be handy if my Angels runs out while I'm here...

Anyway, I ended up basically back at the university, and the infamous Subway, though I went into the Mezzo di Pasta instead, where you basically get tubs of freshly cooked pasta with a choice of sauces. It was another place for micromanaging choices, with a kind of reductio ad absurdum down to the 'which of these two cheeses would you like sprinkled on the top?' question. Only because it was French, there was also the option of having some bread to go with it (???), and getting a ticket for coffee afterwards (???). And there was wine on the drinks menu. Needless to say, there was a large family group enjoying a proper repas complete with coffee tickets and puddings (possibly not the wine?), who looked like they'd properly settled in for lunchtime. I was there ten minutes at the most.

I then spent a couple of hours in the Jardin, doing some writing in the shade, a bit annoyed that I hadn't spotted anywhere to buy some water, but I have a feeling that this was a mois d'août thing rather than an actual lack. One of the Americans from the course (not my class) appeared and we had a nice chat as well, most interestingly about how she'd lived in Adelaide for nine years and thus (a) understands dry heat (b) understands the tastiness of beer in dry heat (more on this anon) and (c) has a healthy walkabout attitude to new places, which I hope to emulate, but fear I won't (I'm bad with directions even when I have a map!!).

In a slightly better frame of mind after this, I returned to the shops and actually had a great time, mainly because I found a lovelycardiganformeeeee... There have been these sort of neutralised baseball jacket jacket things in Topshop and elsewhere for a while now, but they're usually made out of sweatshirt material with poppers, feeling very jackety, and I have often thought that they would be nice if they were just actual cardigans. I have also been looking for another short high/round necked cardigan for a while, because I have practically worn through the seams of my mum's twenty-year-old blue M&S cardigan (which I borrowed five years ago and possibly never gave back and started wearing everywhere). This cardigan was exactly something I've been looking for, therefore, as a neutralised baseball jacket type thing that's actually a cardigan, and it's in red and grey (good colours), and it cost exactly what cash I had brought with me (leaving a couple of euros for water etc. on the way home), and it's like 95% lambswool, which is a bit scratchy at the moment, but will undoubtedly get proper comfy as life goes on (such has been my experience with the 100% wool woven-not-knitted scarf I have, anyway).

I have to say, though, that it was also sold to me by the rather lovely shop assistant and presentation of the shop, which I have to say is a speciality of Clermont, if not France as a whole. All the window displays (like where I first saw the cardigan) are beautifully put together. I tend not to think that French fashion, on average, is any more chic or whatever than anywhere else, but the mannequin dressing is impeccable all over town here - it even got me going into Zara, which I tend to avoid for random sizing, random pricing and random adoration of horrible cheap-feeling-even-on-expensive-clothes-materials (this dislike was borne out, but the mannequin point still stands). These shop assistants can definitely pick an outfit. Anyway - they can also be really friendly, and not in a stalkerish way, which gets on my wick. My shop assistant in Promod saw that I faffing around with the cardigans on the rail, and was patient enough to listen as I (now clearly Foreign) muddled through my explanation that I had tried the M and found it just a touch too small, so was looking for an L, and then when I had found an L she was willing to let me get on with trying it on over by the mirror - at which point she happened to be around (maybe she followed me, but it really felt like she happened to be there) to affirm my thoughts that this was a much better size and compliment the fit of the shoulders, which did actually fit on me quite well. And then she let me potter freely, during which time everyone else in the shop was helpful too, and I ended up a very happy customer by the time I went to the check out.

Maybe it's because I have LUSH training to my name, but I tend to be very picky about the style of shop assisting I get in shops, and this was perfect. But then it has been generally very good all over town - especially given that I currently look like a complete mess. I don't do heat very well, as I am pale-going-on-neon and tend to dress in lots of colours (this works when it's grey outside!), so have been walking around today with my scarecrow-bob of a hairdo, hyper-pale in bright sunshine (yay for sun cream) with a bright yellow t-shirt, a cream and sea-green stripey skirt (which goes below the knee and has actually been great for the weather) and bright red trainers - looking sweaty and horrible on top of this as I'm wandering among all these crisply-folded beige (cashmere) jumpers. I've been getting many amused looks - and yet the amused look has always been followed by a friendly 'bonjour', and perfect acceptance that I might be interested in a sludge-coloured cashmere jumper. (Which, actually, I would be. To be fair, I have a feeling these people probably recognise that I am anglaise and thus prone to looking a fright in high heat, but likely to buy cardigans.) I can't help but compare the Galeries Lafayette experience - such an amused look + bonjour from the main women's floor assitant - to the one me and Mum had in Saks when we went to New York a few years ago, just before we were going off to catch the plane. We happened to walk past a shop assistant, who did nothing but smile blankly and assess us, head down to toe, where she saw that we were wearing fairly ugly shoes (we were getting on a plane!), at which point her smile completely faded and she pointedly ignored us for the rest of the time we were on the floor. We had half a mind to put on proper posh accents and pretend we had horses, but mostly couldn't be bothered (it's possible I found Saks to be fairly dead and nothing on Selfridge's anyway...), and soon left. Who knows what might have happened if she'd been friendly? Friendly shop assistants get you everywhere!

Clermont/France seems to know this, especially, actually, at the supermarket at the end of my road, where I think I may have become a regular by going in every day for a week. There's one particular shop assistant who's really friendly and always tries to chat with me, bless her, though I'm always crap at replying. I did learn the verb 'boutiquer' today, though (when she asked if that's what I had been doing)! I also had the happy time of realising/remembering that you can buy a litre of Vittel in France for 55 cents (Vittel happens to be my favourite mineral water - I don't know why I have a favourite, but it managed to be the only thing to settle a particularly crap bout of carsickness on a holiday once, and I have been fond ever since). As well as a 33cl pseudo-bottle-can of Desperados for 1E50 (Desperados being the best French beer ever to fake being South American and include sugar and tequila flavouring in its make-up). No, drinking alone is not particularly sensible, but I was saying to American C in the Jardin that it was the perfect day for a cold beer. And it's my favourite. And I'm on holiday. And it's been accompanied by a litre of water quite nicely. And it has encouraged me to be very, very chatty in text form...

(no subject)

Date: 20/08/2011 22:40 (UTC)
evilawyer: young black-tailed prairie dog at SF Zoo (Default)
From: [personal profile] evilawyer
One of the reasons I hate to shop is that I detest is when store clerks make an assessment of whether to help me because of how I'm dressed. Who wants to go shopping uncomfortably dressed? There was one time, many, many years ago, where I was looking for some boots in Nordstroms (which was -- and still sort of is -- a toney department store) in Stanford Shopping Center (in Palo Alto, which is toney all by itself) and the main sales woman looked at me just like you got looked at in New York. When I found the boots I wanted, I had to traipse all around to find someone, who I think must have been very junior as he was the only one who was actually doing and picking up of shoes that had been tried on. He didn't give me any crap. It was such fun buying my $400 pair of boots from him with the main sales woman standing there trying to look like she wasn't fuming.

Drinking beer alone is just fine on a hot day. (well, any day as far as I'm concerned, but that's another story.)

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