26 December 2009

Nice Day, Shame about the Shopping

Cabin fever begins to set in, it seems, even when one is ensconced in a pleasant flat just across the Croisette from the beach. The plan this morning was to go running and then catch the train to Nice. Unfortunately, I synced my iPhone with my computer last night and had forgotten that this causes the time zone to change back to the time zone of the laptop and thus I woke up an hour later than planned (when Papa accused me of having a "royal lie-in" I assumed he was just being rude). I had to forego the run but we made it to Nice without too much trouble (usually, I will look up the train times online and when we get to the station, the departure times don't seem to correspond in the slightest).

Boxing Day is almost as big a shopping day in France as it is in England and the streets of Nice were filled with shoppers, sight-seers and (belated) carol singers. The centre of Nice is divided into the New Town and the Old Town, the former containing all the big department stores and other large chain shops, while the latter has the winding, souq-like maze of historic streets, market stalls and tiny shops. For the past five or six years I have failed repeatedly to shop in France and today was no exception. This is more true in the provinces than in Paris, even in Nice, which is France's fifth biggest city--even when they stock brands I like, the clothes just feel out of date and not in my style. There are a handful of shops I do like--Comptoir des Cotonniers, Petit Bateau and Princesse Tam-Tam, for example--but with the pound being worth about the same as the euro at the moment, even French brands don't work out any cheaper than in England, as English prices have at least been adjusted slightly to address the dire exchange rate.

I did, however, buy the French edition of Suite Française, which is pretty difficult to obtain from my library, and a bunch of pinky-red tulips for Maman from the marché aux fleurs. Other than that, I couldn't even find any open patisseries from which to buy a macaroon or an éclair. I shouldn't complain that my holidays in France tend to end up saving me money but as it's Christmas, I had hoped to treat myself to a little something... Of course, there is always the Longchamp shop in Cannes, but that offers a whole other breed of spending opportunity--a bank-balance-busting one--and I'm supposed to have turned over a new leaf...

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