For anyone who thinks shopping is frivolous and gratuitous, I urge you to reconsider. You obviously have never shopped in France.
Today, I went on an adventure to find the stairs of Montmartre. I’ll admit, Rufus Wainwright had me convinced to go when I was 12, but today was the day. One of my friends told me there was an elevator to the top (le funiculaire), but I thought of that as blasphemy and went out looking to walk up some stairs.
You can learn more about what happened at the top of the stairs on Thursday when my column comes out. But the most significant part of my day, for me, was what happened after.
I walked down the side streets of Montmartre, looking in windows and awing at all the items. Automatically everything became so much more interesting to me because they were French.
For a little background to this story, I have been looking for a ring for myself for a while. Instead of a class ring I wanted to buy myself something with more significance, as a reward from myself. I don’t really care if it sounds cliche…I just knew that finding that one, perfect ring would cement my accomplishments for me, and no one else.
Then, about a week ago, I realized I was in the perfect place to buy it. I’ve been in love with Paris since elementary school, it’s not a just a four-month fling for me. I googled jewelry shops in Paris, but I didn’t want something out of a case at a department store. I wanted the meaning to surpass the cost–as with all things, that makes it more valuable in the long run.
I passed one store in Montmartre that had interesting rings, but a lot of them were a little too interesting and I wouldn’t have been able to wear one everyday without getting stared at. So I remembered where I was in case I wanted to go back, and kept walking down the Rue des Trois Frères.
That’s when I saw it, a cute little shop with a big display case of jewelry and other little trinkets. By the looks of the shop I thought everything was going to be very expensive, but they turned out to be so much cheaper than I could have imagined.
When I walked inside, the saleswoman asked if she could help me in English. I replied to her in French, so she continued to speak to me in French. I was so grateful for this, usually people like to practice English with us or try to avoid any language barriers, but this woman was patient with me. When I asked her to see the ring I had been looking at, I accidentally messed up the gender (I always do that! ) but she very subtley corrected me (I said celui-ci instead of celle-ci…whoops forgot a ring, une bague, is feminine). If everyone in Paris spoke with me the way she did, I would have been fluent a week ago.
She helped me try on a bunch of rings and helped gauge my size. It was the first time I actually felt comfortable speaking French with an actual French person (that is, without any wine), which was a huge blessing.
I left the store with my most memorable and in my opinion, valuable, purchase I have made so far. I’ve been so trapped on Passy, passing H&M and the Gap on a daily basis. But this feels so much more authentic, and so much more worth it.