It's been quite a week. We were on holiday from Thursday to Tuesday and I'm just catching up.
Thursday and Friday nights, we spent at a friend's house in Kent. The three of us went to France on Friday for a shopping trip. (Doesn't that sound posey? "Oh, I'm just going to France to do my shopping!" But remember how small distances are in Europe. France is only 100 miles from our house.) Our main targets: wine, food and some clothes for me.
Friday, we took Le Shuttle through the Channel Tunnel: quick, cost-effective and efficient, and to my mind a damn sight better than taking the ferry. (No seasickness!) You drive into the train, park up, switch off, put your feet up and less than half an hour later, you're driving out of the train on the other side of the Channel. Our destination, the big shopping mall called Cite Europe, is a 5 minute drive from the Tunnel exit - you can see it as you drive out. Before we went there, though, we drove down the coast to Le Touquet for lunch.
Le Touquet is also known as Paris Plage, "Paris by the sea". It is an Edwardian resort town, which I think I first read about in an Agatha Christie novel. A very wealthy resort town with posh shops (I saw a Max Mara boutique and a Sonia Rykiel one) and probably the most stylish school uniforms I have ever seen. I seriously thought a group of school children were employees of one of the posh hotels until we got close to them. Their uniforms are gorgeous!
Anyway, after lunch we went back to Cite Europe and some serious shopping. Our local supermarket, Tesco, has a shop there that only sells wine, beers and spirits. You get the ease of shopping in English coupled with French prices (lets just say that most of the wine is 1/3 of the price it is in England). Plus they give you points, just as they do in the UK. So we stocked up. Rather a lot. 48 bottles of wine. Including 6 bottles of sparkling red. Plus 2 bottles of Rose Cordial (smells like roses tastes like roses, pretty pink, too). That'll keep us going for a long while.
A quick whiz through the bag shops - the French do handbags/purses that convert to back-packs but I couldn't find one this time - and on to one of my favourite boutiques, Un Jour Ailleurs. Maybe it's the clothes (very elegant, very French), maybe it's the customer service (they style you and accessorise your outfits), but I love shopping there. In four visits, I've purchased three outfits: two suits for me and the clothes my sister wore to give me away at my wedding. The link is to their latest catalogue.
This time, I purchased a suit (jacket, two pairs of trousers), a contrasting sweater (that picks out the colour from the stripe in the suit) and a silk scarf that ties it all together. It's this one, from pages 36/37 of their catalogue.
The sweater I purchased is the one the blond is wearing: cotton, fitted with the emphasis on the shoulders. It's the same pink as the sweater that was on the Summer 2007 cover of Interweave Knits.
Our final stop was Carrefour, the French supermarket chain which forms the second largest retailer in the world. Targets: olive oil, rapeseed oil (Canola), coffee, coffee filters, chestnut puree, cheese and charcouterie. Without considering the exchange rates, all of those things cost less than half the price in Euros than they do in GBP. Some day, in the depth of winter, I'm going to load up the car with cool bags, drive over and do an entire month's shop there just to compare. (OK, it'll only be worth it if I can get a cheap crossing on Le Shuttle.)
If you ever live in Europe, go to Carrefour to buy your cookware. You know the cast iron dutch oven that you've been eyeing up in Williams Sonoma? Current price $200. Well, I purchased an almost identical one, Carrefour own-brand for €35.
- Pam (If I don't post this now, it'll never get up on the web)