Au Bonheur des Dames or Ladies Love Shopping

I have been watching Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece via iTunes.  As the department stores seem to be going through hard times, it is interesting to think about their origins. Living in Paris' sixth arrondissement for four weeks will give me plenty of time to do research. Yesterday, I set off to explore my neighbourhood shops.

My neighbourhood department store is Le Bon Marché at Sèvres-Babylone. The Bon Marché is now owned by LVMH, a French conglomerate that basically controls all luxury goods sold in the world. The Bon Marché is having a special exposition featuring the goods and culture of Brazil right now.
Part of the rez-de-chaussée  is transformed into a trade show featuring luxury products of Brazil. Many people were obviously enjoying the "beachy" atmosphere on a grey Paris day. I love to look at the glamourous  accessories and beauty products on the ground floor. I am overwhelmed by so many choices. Since my retirement, I have been more selective in choosing skin care products and makeup. I don't want to buy products that I am not going to use regularly.  I have been faithful to Chanel because I have found that their products are richer and creamier than many other lines.

As I have wanted a Longchamps pliage bag for a while, I visit the Longchamps boutique where I can choose between an orange or a beige bag. Beige is probably the better choice but I know that I can buy the bag at home so I resist. I bought my first rain hat here about ten years ago and now carry one everywhere. La Tribu des Oiseaux is my favourite brand but I have bought 2 new rain hats already this trip so again I resist.

The first floor is devoted to "la mode" ladies' fashions and what fashions they are! Each section is displaying colourful spring clothing that right now nobody in Paris is wearing. Last year, I bought a blue and orange Kenzo dress for my graduation and a Gérard Darel sweater but this year I find nothing to tempt me. I know that the weight limit for my Easyjet flight to Prague is 20 kg so limiting my purchases is crucial.

The second floor is Maison and Papeterie. Before I retired, we renovated and I completely decorated our apartment. Now I switch ornaments and bedding but I have vowed to purchase nothing new unless it is a replacement. But I do love stationery! Since I am going to assume a more studious role for the next few weeks, I make my purchase: an orange notebook in a zippered plastic case for my handouts. Quelle extravagance!

I don't shop in department stores very much at home now. I prefer to buy from small shops staffed by "ladies of a certain age." I feel more comfortable with staff that I know and on whose taste I can rely. These smaller shops tend to carry lines of clothing that suit my 60 plus body. The only problem is that some of the proprietors of these shops are also retiring. I expect that, as we progress in retirement, we will make fewer purchases. I notice already that I do not make as many hasty purchases. But I do still  enjoy the beautiful displays and colourful windows which are part of the 6th.